Winning the War against the Pre-Teen Years

Posted on September 3, 2010


My son is now 11 years old and somewhere along the years the apple of my eye just suddenly grew up.  Yes, I know he’s only 11 but his thoughts and actions are way beyond anything I ever imagined they would be at this stage in his life.

From the moment I knew he was coming I had his whole life planned out, I knew exactly what I was getting into and how I was going to handle it (or at least I thought I did).   I knew that I didn’t want to be a replica of my mum (I do love my mum but I wanted to do things differently) I always saw my mum and dad’s lifestyle as ‘old’, and not a great deal of fun or adventure and I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to be one of those types of parents.  Maybe I never really grew up but I’m happy to be out there messing with paints, making models, roller blading, climbing trees, kickboxing, doing all the things that my son does.

Having these things in our lives means that I have had a different kind of relationship with my son, its not that I don’t do responsibility or I’ve tried too much to just be my son’s best friend what I have tried to do over the years is position myself as his mother but also as his friend.   The things that have made me sit up and think the most are that:

 a) he’s now 11 – it feels like last week I was at school, did I fall into some twilight zone and drop out the other side 20 years later
b) as much as I thought I was going to be the one to teach him everything he needs to know about life, the world and everything, he teaches me daily.
c) as many plans as I had and have, he is his own independent person with his own ideas and my plans although I can help to direct him cannot be his.
d) its very difficult to be a mother and a friend 100% of the time especially where rules are concerned.

I have a very close relationship with my son and having always treated him with respect as an individual I also managed to create a few complications along the way 🙂 this now means that he has his say and opinion on everything and boy! do I mean everything.  Being his mother means that when I need to draw the line I generally can but I also respect he has an opinion and that works both ways, although there are times when he comes across that only his opinion counts and the world evolves around him – this is something I’m learning is a ‘teenager trait’.

These ‘teenager trait’s’ or PTS (Pre-Teen Symptoms) as I like to call them are gradually appearing more and more frequently and just when I think we’ve lost the plot completely, he does something so mature for his age that he leaves me standing there mouth agape wondering if aliens just teleported a new child into my living room.

Anyway back to the PTS, I have decided that PTS has two strains the Fred and the Freida, Fred obviously being the boy PTS although separate, the Fred and the Freida do have cross links too, the INF (Its Not Fair) symptoms seem to be appearing every time something doesn’t go the way it should – meaning their way! and IHML (I Hate My Life) appears directly after.  I’ve found that with my son both of these emotions can be easily cajoled with TMAI (Tell Me About It) and TAB (Tea And Biscuits) although I’m told that for Freida TMAI is generally received with LMA (Leave Me Alone) and a swift slam of the door.  Their main issues seem to be connected to the MOD species (Mum or Dad) and the TAT (Trials and Tribulations) of LIG (Life In General)

What I’ve discovered is that the Fred PTS even though there are the cross links with Freida mostly takes a completely opposite turn from the behavioural patterns of the Freida.  The Fred develops temporary paralysis of bodily functions relating to showering, flushing the toilet and putting things in the bin, loss of eyesight when needing to get something like a coat or shoes and a fluctuation of hearing; ranging from complete hearing loss when asked to do something to hyper-sensitivity when MOD are in deep depths of discussion, combined with ICSY (I Can’t Sleep Yet), Fred and Frieda appear to have to be connected to all the other Children suffering with PTS because they all have to do what each other are doing and also have to have what each child has.

Whilst it would be ideal if MOD could create a cure for PTS there are some steps that can be taken to ease the pain, it’s easy to forget the TAT of LIG when you are suffering from PTS but remember MOD’s have been there, so all MODS can sympathise with the INF and IHML symptoms.

1. Routine – believe it or not, routine even in the early stages of PTS is still as important as ever, I find that if my son falls out of his routine things to him just spiral out of control.  As much as PTS will install ICSY the amount of sleep required is still exactly the same and as the PTS progresses the amount of sleep required grows.

2. Persuaded Assistance – now this is a difficult one for MOD’s because PTS will convince your child that they know everything and do not need any help, especially from a MOD who knows nothing.  The art of persuaded assistance is for the MOD to imply it is too much bother or that PTS is only annoying the MOD.  This way PTS triggers a positive IGOO (I Got One Over) vibe and the PTS will be soothed.  The other way this works is for MOD to develop their own symptom of ICDT (I Can’t Do This) and again the IGOO vibe takes over and triggers the brain of the child to do it for the MOD.

3. Merit – merit is a fairly quick win, a way of temporarily getting past the PTS symptoms but also getting the most basic of things done without your child thinking you are nagging them (another symptom of PTS is the fact that every time a MOD opens their mouth they are nagging).  To make merit work what you need is a pen and a pack of post it’s – write the things you want done onto a post-it and give it an amount of money, say 25p, this will demotivate the PTS in your child and focus on the most basic of tasks such as flushing the toilet, making the bed, going to sleep when told, etc.. but and this is a big but! as it will trigger a flare in the PTS, you will also need to have a selection of minus merits but take my word for it, it is easy to place in what MOD’s know are difficult to achieve tasks but your child will see as a doddle; such as answering back inappropriately -25p.  Your child will accept the Merit prescription with relative ease as they will focus on the amount of Merits they can score each week, especially if you only add up the positive Merits and place it in large bold print on a much larger post-it.

4. Family Time – as PTS grows your child will also develop an age phobia meaning less time around any MOD’s becomes a necessity, the need for solitude in this environment can become overwhelming but when PTS is high I have found that there are a few ways of alleviating this symptom, a) let the LMA symptom run its course, I would suggest putting music on or a really good film b) do something fun, now fun doesn’t have to cost money I find that with my son although he has acute PTS he still wants to do stuff, so riding the bikes, playing games, kickboxing practice etc will always overrule PTS.

I am only just finding these things out for myself and as much as they may not work for everyone because PTS can be erratic and the depths of it can run from minor to major, I find that they are working for me and I am winning the war against the pre-teen years.

With a little persistence, love and understanding I am learning that PTS comes with some big rewards too, my relationship with my son is growing stronger and although I doubt my personality will change now, I can see his is evolving and I’m cherishing every moment of it – good or bad!

As we prepare for the next stages of PTS e.g. the Time Bomb Years (TBY) I guess I will learn a whole lot more 🙂