Encouraging Fairness in Tweens
Living with a tween sometimes feels like you’re an innkeeper on Planet Selfish. They tend to be short-sighted and self-absorbed, focusing solely on their own needs and forgetting those of others. They’re now at a point where they know what they want and like and are able to stand up for it to get their way. They can become careless with friends’ possessions; be blind to damage as they rush about the house; disregard how their words may hurt other people; and show little value for nature and the natural environment.
Disregard for others may work in the short-term, but it won’t get your tween very far for very long. Friends don’t stick around if their needs are constantly ignored or their things are trashed, and lack of respect toward adults gets tweens into big trouble at school.
Tweens aren’t all bad, of course, and you can admire their budding independence. That makes it a good time to fortify a sense of regard and respect for others. Whatever the cause of their brusque manner or self-indulgent actions, you can encourage a more respectful outlook across different sections of life by treating your tween as a maturing person and as you would like him to treat others. Listen to his views, values, and feelings, and take these seriously; acknowledge his interests and ask questions about them. You can also try talking about the following simple house rules as a way to remind him that others have feelings, views, and values. Everyone should follow them, even you.
- Possessions: Never take without asking. Return it as you found it to where you found it. Always say thanks after.
- Home: Don’t walk indoors with muddy shoes. Keep rough games away from breakables. Watch where grubby fingers touch.
- Outdoors: Treasure growing plants. Don’t kill or maim insects for fun. Dispose of trash appropriately. Don’t deface property.
Expect respect, but play fair so you earn it, as well. You have the authority and should be respected as the responsible decision-maker. Know that tweens are acutely sensitive to fairness. If they feel you’re unjust, or have one rule for them and another for you, they may resent and disrespect you. Apologize when you go too far. Most of all, rest assured and keep in mind that this stage of self-centeredness, like others, will pass.
- Make possessions more precious. To give material things greater value and meaning, replace "Easy come, easy go" with "Wait, save, and contribute."
- Nurture self-respect. Show her how to care for her health and welfare. If your tween can respect herself, she'll find it easier to respect others.
- Encourage respect for friends. Encourage kindness, caring, sharing, and turn-taking by playing family games and sharing food fairly.