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It’s one of the most common issues I hear from parents of tween girls. If you’re used to your daughter sharing all the details of her day – friends, interests, questions – you can feel sad when things change.
You can also feel afraid she’s hiding something or worried she won’t come to you when she needs help.
It’s a healthy part of your tween girl’s development to want more privacy to explore her inner world and to be more invested in spending time with friends.
Yet, it’s also natural for you to want to keep the lines of communication open with her and not lose your connection with her.
It’s tough to listen when you’re busy and distracted – tending to one of your other kids, thinking about your to-do list, or maybe even enjoying a rare moment on your own.
It can be easy to kind of listen with one ear…especially when your daughter is talking about something that doesn’t interest you.
But, this is the time when you need to try and really listen.
These moments are a valuable opportunity to hear what’s important to your daughter.
She’s sharing what she cares about, where her insecurities are, and her thoughts.
** When you don’t listen with presence she receives the message that she isn’t being heard. **
Practice listening without judgment, without trying to change anything and with your mind and heart open to hear your daughter’s true voice.
If you give your attention to this practice, you will be planting the seeds to create a safe, grounded space for your daughter to share her deeper and more complex emotions.
If your daughter won’t share with you, it doesn’t mean you can’t share with her and start to show her through example that it’s safe to share all kinds of emotions.
One of the best ways I’ve found to build rapport with tween girls is to share my own vulnerabilities and inner conflicts as well as ways I overcome them.
I include the girls in the conversation, asking for their opinions and their experiences.
Sometimes – when a girl is resistant to sharing her difficult feelings, I just share my own without asking for a response. Then I move on to lighter and more playful conversation topics. This strategy can work well for you too.
For example, If you’re feeling nervous about giving a presentation at work or telling someone how you feel, try sharing that with your daughter. Talk to her about what is making you feel nervous.
Share with her the strategies you’ll use to get over your fears.
If you’re stressed, instead of trying to cover it up, share with your daughter how you’re feeling. Let her know some of the challenges you have with overcoming your stress.
Share the tools you use to get back into balance.
Beginning these practices doesn’t automatically open the gates to conversation with your daughter.
It’s actually more likely that your tween girl won’t immediately start coming to you to freely express her deepest emotions.
You’ll need to be patient. (This is personally one of the most difficult virtues for me to practice- I get that it’s hard!)
It’s part of her developmental job right now to explore on her own and look to her friends for answers.
She’s feeling strong emotions without having developed abstract thought. She might not have words for her complex feelings.
So give her time.
Your goal here is to build a foundation.
Show her it’s safe to share with you – and it’s safe to talk about difficult emotions.
It’s ok to make mistakes and ask for help.
You’re building the foundation now so that when things get really tough for her she will feel comfortable sharing and being heard.
Not sure how to start? I’ve created a resource to help spark playful, interactive conversation with your daughter.
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