Encouraging the Sulky Pre-teen

To be fair, he will only be a pre-teen for another month. In a few short weeks he will officially be a full on, smelly, sullen, aggravating real live teenager.

But I’ve developed a habit (no, it didn’t take 21 days. Why do people think that shit? Link to some actual science here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/habit-formation ).over the past few months and today I realized that desire to infuse a positive, habit by using mentally easy, casual words had become someone else’s morning necessity.

Seventh grade in New York City is really important because it is the academic year that high schools use to determine if you are good enough for their various programs. And if you are a black child trying to be part of the 4.6% of attendees in a Specialized High School here, the pressure is ratcheted up quite a bit more. Luckily for me, the Khevster has been highly self motivated to attend Brooklyn Technical School since he was in the second grade. But  knowing that he still needs a great deal of support, I have been attempting to institute a more positivity based parenting style with him, encouraging in a way that I think I lacked with my oldest two, or at least needed some improvement. So at the beginning of the school year when he would leave the house in the morning, I always say, “Have a good day!”

Confession: I haven’t been getting up as early as I used to. There’s really no need for me to. I call the Khevster on the phone to make sure he’s gotten up and is getting ready for school and then I either doze off again until my second alarm rings or groggily watch the news. This morning I just wasn’t ready to wake up and fell back all the way into a deep sleep. So when the morning knock at my bedroom door came, I didn’t respond right away. The door popped open anyway and I heard the boy say something but I wasn’t fully awake.

“Mom. I’m leaving.”

“Huh? Uh-huh”

“Mom! I said: I’m leaving.”

“Oh. Have a good day!”

“Ok, bye.”

The door shut and he was gone and I was sitting up in bed now wide awake and feeling those weird, mom-moment tears forming briefly as I realized he was not only waiting for me to tell him to have a good day, he needed to hear that from me every morning. Even when he doesn’t want to go and he says, “I won’t!”. He still needs to hear it and I am so glad I was able to create that habit. It doesn’t seem like a big thing but any time I am able to give one of my children something they need, it’s very satisfying and inspires me to push on with things I might otherwise forget or let fall to the wayside because they don’t seem all that important in a given moment. Keep encouraging your sulky, sullen teens. Even when they don’t act like they need it or care, they do.


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