My daughter turned 9 last month. Since the past few months, I have been observing a lot of changes in her. Along with the changes in her body which are signs of entering the primary stages of puberty, I have also observed emotional changes in her. The manner in which she converses with me, the questions she asks, her mood swings suggests she is growing up and needs me the most now.
Just a couple of days back she showed me a few strands of her underarm hair that she observed and asked me the reason for the change in her. She even asked me if one can have a baby without getting married as well.
That was a cue to me to talk about few things with her. Though I have already spoken about menstruation with her and has complete information on it (read here : “Mom Why Do You Wear A Diaper?” “You Are Not A Baby! how I introduced her to mensuration and answered her queries on the same), now because she is growing questions on babies were bound to arise as well.
Another recent incident which suggests that she is going through many emotional changes was when her swimming coach observed that she was not the usual cheerful girl during practice. He asked me to speak with her if she is uncomfortable about something. He observed that she is lacking interest in training and her performance is also being affected.
Though she has always shared every small detail with me and that was a relief but I must admit that I wasn’t expecting that she will experience these changes at the age of nine.
Thankfully, she shared her doubts with me and I am grateful to her coach as well to let me know immediately about his observation. I spoke with her and got to know that she was not comfortable because of the change in her group. There are new children with whom she trains which makes her miss her friends. But she also expressed her wish to quit swimming due to this reason. She has always been a very carefree and accommodating girl, so this came as a surprise to me.
All these incidents in the past few weeks made me share few things with her which I think will help her deal with the changes.
Life is not always a bed of roses:
When she mentioned her reason to quit swimming, as parents we felt that it is not the right reason for her to quit something she is so passionate about. While I certainly would not want to pressurize her but I do not want her to quit just because the environment is not conducive for her. The primary reason we have enrolled her in a sport is to explain to her that life will throw many challenges but she being a sports person will teach her to rise above such challenges. A sport teaches to cope with difficult situations. She needs to develop the essential skill of perseverance. It is important for her to know that life has its ups and down and she has to learn to deal with it. Life is certainly not a bed of roses and roses also have thorns.
Changes in mind and body:
Since my daughter has already started to pose questions to me regarding puberty, she has come to understand that her body is changing. But I also I need to make her aware that she is going to experience emotional changes as well. She will sometimes feel very happy and sometimes she may feel that she doesn’t like those things that she loved to do earlier. Since she already faced it with her swimming experience, she now understands about mood swings a little better. However, as a parent, I need to be more understanding about her emotional changes now.
The significance of the judicious use of money:
With so much of exposure to technology and marketing tactics used by companies for kids’ products, children have become demanding.
During my childhood, I would think thousand times before demanding anything from my parents. I distinctly remember I was given my first Barbie doll by my dad after he was satisfied that I worked hard in my class 5 examination. Similarly, when I wanted a two-wheeler after my class 10, I was asked to secure good marks in my boards. I didn’t secure the desired marks and I travelled to school by public transport bus for a period of 3 months but didn’t ask for the two-wheeler. After my dad was satisfied that I valued the two-wheeler, he surprised me by buying it. And I am, grateful to him for the same as that made me feel that I deserved it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have valued it enough.
I must have been 21 years old when most of my friends had mobile phones. Naturally, I wanted one too. Even at that age, my dad told me, buy one from your salary and do not expect me to pay your bills. Nowadays we are worried about our children’s safety and give them a phone as early as 12 years of age.
Parenting has certainly changed now but I believe that kids need to be taught the importance of money and I do so by sharing my childhood experiences with my daughter. I am not sure if that comparison is the right way but at least she knows the values with which I was raised.
Everyone will not be nice:
As a young girl, I was constantly under pressure to be amongst that group of popular kids in school. The ones who were teachers favourites or the ones who were peers favourites. And I am sure my daughter is now going to face this as well since she is 9 years now. Some kids will be rude, and some may try to demean too. While I never tried to disclose my true feelings to my friends I always faced issues of lack of self- esteem due to such pressure. Hence, I keep sharing my experiences and speak with her to be more confident and choose friends wisely. There will be incidents of bullying and though the school will hold workshops for the same, as a parent I will also have to communicate more with her so that she shares her daily school experiences with me.
I hope that as my daughter grows our bond becomes stronger and that she considers me her strongest support. I will keep my communication with her open and continuous. As a mother, I will always listen to her unspoken words as well.
How do you communicate with your children during the pre-teen age? Do share your experiences with me.