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Parents ‘tween a rock and a hard place

Not quite a teenager but still a child, the unpredictable “tween” often baffles parents.To uncover the mysteries of interacting with 10- to 12-year-olds, the nonprofit YouthZone held a “Tween Years” class on Thursday night for about 20 parents at its Glenwood office.”What we try to do in all our parenting classes is have parents leave with a toolbox of tools that they can pull out and use when they need to,” said Deb VanHoorelbeke, parent program coordinator for Youth Zone for 10 years.To start the session, VanHoorelbeke had parents introduce themselves by naming a specific challenge they face with their tweens. Problems ranged from sibling rivalry to throwing tantrums to expressing downright hatred for their parents.”Does anybody have control over your kid?” VanHoorelbeke asked, eliciting a chuckle from the group. “We won’t have all the answers, but you can experiment with what you learn,” she said.To help participants nail down their parenting style, VanHoorelbeke listed the five types of parents – armchair, helicopter, limo, drill sergeant and consultant. Helicopter parents, for example, rescue their children instead of allowing them to experience life’s difficulties without assistance. The ideal parent acts as a consultant – giving children advice but enough free rein to make mistakes and learn from them.As a consultant “I want my child to go out and make good decisions on their own – when the voice is no longer mine,” VanHoorelbeke said. As specific parenting tools, VanHoorelbeke outlined techniques such as one-liners to avoid being taken advantage of by the child and offering rewards and consequences for negative behavior.The class provided reinforcement in raising “capable young people” for Glenwood resident Lyndie Pearson, who has three girls: a 12-year-old and 10-year-old twins.Corinne Diemoz-DeRaddo, who has two girls, age 8 and 11, came to the program to listen to ideas from other parents.”I want to find better ways of parenting and supporting (my kids) in a positive manner,” she said.Youth Zone offers a variety of programs to improve parent-child relations, such as its newest addition, the Parent Phone Card. Parents can use the prepaid card to receive phone consultation from YouthZone counselors when a conflict arises. “Our bottom-line philosophy is when you fill the cup of the parent to filling over, it spills over positively to the child,” VanHoorelbeke said.Contact Christine Dell’Amore, 945-8515 ext. 535cdellamore@postindependent.com


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