If your 10-year-old daughter is a sweet little girl who loves to talk about her favorite American Girl doll one minute and a snappy tween biting your head off the next, you're not alone. Those tween years can sometimes give you a snap shot of what your daughter could be like in just a few years. If what you are seeing concerns you or if you want to prevent what other parents dread -- the teenage years -- then learn how to talk to your daughter now. Good communication can help you both get through those years and safeguard your precious child from some of the needless follies.
Set aside time to talk with your 10-year-old daughter. You can do this at home, or you can make a special trip out of it. Go to the mall to walk, shop and get a bite to eat. Visit a coffee house or tea room where you can talk over cookies and hot chocolate. Drive to the airport to watch planes take off or take a hike in a park. You don't have to tell her the purpose of the trip is to talk, but you can certainly tell her you want to spend some special time with her.
Listen to your daughter when she talks and show her the same respect you want her to show you. Stop cleaning and cooking, ignore your phone and look at her when she talks. Don't cut her off, but let her finish her thoughts, even if she seems to be babbling on and on about nothing. Ask her a question and give a response that is directly related to what she said so she knows that you were listening and that you care about her and what she has to say.
Remain calm when talking to your daughter and don't overreact to the things she is telling you. Yelling and getting overly angry will likely close the lines of communication between you and your daughter when it comes to difficult subjects. Rather, ask her what she thinks about what she just said. Then, tell her your thoughts and have a discussion back and forth. Be sure to praise your daughter for talking to you and letting you help her through the situation, even if you have to give her a consequence for something she fesses. If either one of you gets too emotional, take a break from the conversation and come back to it when both of you are calm and can think clearly. Always apologize if you overreact so she is more likely to trust you the next time she's thinking about opening up to you.
Take notice of your daughter's hobbies and interests, and use them to help you find something to talk about. If she likes a certain band, talk to her about what she likes about it, what songs are her favorites and whether she would want to be a super rock star. You could then tell her about your favorite band when you were her age. During the conversation, opportunities will likely arise that you can naturally guide your way into different topics as desired.
Share with your daughter your own experiences when you talk with her. Tell her about the struggles you went through when you were her age, what your teacher was like, how you felt about your looks, and who your friends were, and why you are or are not friends with them now. If you decide to talk to your daughter about menstruation at this age, be open and tell her how you found out about it and what your first menstruation was like. When it comes to talking about sex, you might want to break that topic into smaller conversations and feed her with little bits of information over time. This way, when she asks a question that you think she's too young for, she will respect you when you say you'll tell her about that later when she's older.
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