By the time a young person starts middle school, they feel a deep and pressing need to begin separating from you. It’s a normal and natural part of becoming independent. But still, it can feel messy and painful.
When this happens, your child will look for ways to establish their autonomy. Cutting off communication starts early. Think of it anthropologically. It’s the job of language to tie people together, but it’s the job of tweens and teens to begin breaking ties apart. This is simply part of the necessary, but sometimes painful, process of growing up and becoming independent.
This frustrates parents immensely because just at the age that the world opens up, and exactly when kids need the most guidance, they pull back. And though conversations about even the most innocuous topics jump the tracks unexpectedly at this age, nothing seems to derail you both faster than talking about technology. It’s the new playground or mall, where tweens and teens do most of their socializing. Their fear of being embarrassed, along with their desire for privacy, is so strong, they’ll do a lot to keep you from interfering or worse, cutting them off.
There’s only one thing to do. At around age 11, or when your child starts middle school, it’s time to learn a new language so that you can have better conversations about the things that matter most.
In my newest book, Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen, I teach parents how to do this. Like a Rosetta Stone for talking to your child, the book will show you which approaches and phrases encourage communication, and which shut it down.
When it comes to talking tech, let’s take a look at a few things that might help:
Having a more formal conversation about technology (family meeting-style) is a great way to get things rolling, because you can present it as a way of exploring how tech influences the entire family, and your tween or teen won’t feel targeted. Whether your family is a party of two or twelve, be sure to note that the meeting is meant to be a give and take that should benefit all participants. Below are some ways to begin.
Tech Family Meeting Starter Questions:
For more on how to have this, and other important conversations with your child, check out my latest book Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School, find me at MichelleIcard.com, or follow me on these platforms: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.