How Moms Can Build Connection with Their Pre-Teen Daughters

As a mom, you’ve seen it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. And when your daughter enters her pre-teen years, your relationship will likely transition again. She’ll rely on you heavily for certain things coming up in her life, and for others, she’ll want to practice her independence. Finding the balance is hard work for any parent, especially if you want to maintain an open, honest relationship.

While finding ways to connect with pre-teens is different for every relationship and family dynamic, the following tips may help as you learn to approach this new chapter together:

Lend a listening ear

Understanding is the key to getting through the pre-teen years. Before you do anything, you have to learn who your daughter is becoming – her likes and dislikes, her friends, the music, books and movies she’s interested in, what her favorite subjects are in school, etc. Over the years, her interests have probably changed a bit, so getting to know her each and every day can help you stay connected.

It’s also important to listen first and impart wisdom second. Her adolescent brain is going through a lot of development and she’ll need to know she’s heard and understood as she grows, rather than being treated as she always has as a child. Do some research on active listening and your daughter will be more likely to receive your input.

Share your experience

These can be some of the most vulnerable years in a young woman’s life, as you know from your own pre-teen years! Being the first to prompt conversation and offering to share your experience when you were her age may help her feel less isolated and more comfortable opening up. Just be sure not to force your experience on her, which could backfire...

Whether you share advice on dressing for her changing body, working through friendships, how to tackle her first big paper at school or the best teen tampons, it can help knowing someone else has gone through similar things in their life.

Talk openly

Pre-teens value openness and honesty from their parents and leaders as they deal with transitions like puberty and high school. It shows that you acknowledge their maturity and ability to handle more grown-up conversations. Fostering openness in your conversation can really build trust between you and your daughter, and oftentimes, that starts with you.

Of course, there are certain things you’ll have to be careful about disclosing to your kids, but take some time to determine which conversations they actually can handle. Chances are, it’s probably more than you think. As she gets older and you find your new rhythm together, you can grow in your openness over the years, reinforcing connection, trust and love in your relationship.

Be present and involved

In between the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be hard to make time to be present. Prioritizing your time and staying involved in your daughter’s activities is crucial to staying connected. As much as possible, attend every game, recital, birthday party and parent-teacher conference without distractions or excuses. Actively involving yourself in her world will help her know that you care about the person she’s becoming.

This can also help keep you informed of her personal choices, interests, beliefs, influences and friend groups. Instead of hovering too close or creating overly strict rules, choose to be involved and you’ll be able to connect on a deeper level without unnecessary tension.

Lead by example

The best way to connect and raise a healthy child is to lead by example. When you speak positively about yourself and others, she will, too. If all your daughter sees is her parents pointing out flaws in others, trying to lose weight and self-criticizing, she will start looking for ways to fix her own body and mind.

One of the best gifts you can give your pre-teen daughter is confidence, and confidence is learned from observation. When you live a vibrant, self-loving life, your daughter will follow your example as she enters her teenage years. That kind of strength and self-worth can’t be bought and can’t be undone.

Being a mom to a pre-teen daughter can be one of the biggest challenges and greatest blessings in your life. If you keep these tips in mind over the years, you’ll cultivate a connection and bond that is unlike any other.

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