Whether you are a parent, grandparent, relative, friend, etc., as that special tween girl in your life grows, you'll have to pivot your approach a bit to maintain your connection with her. As your sweet girl morphs overnight into a surly, self-centered, crazy being, keeping the connection can seem like a challenge. She may seem like she doesn't need you, but in reality, she needs you more than ever.
Here is a list of ways to maintain the connection with her:
1. Continue to have family dinners.
2. Have conversations in the car. Parents in this season of life are constantly driving places with their tweens, so take advantage of the car time and talk to them.
3. Leave (or send) her encouraging notes, letters, emails or texts.
4. Give her 3 compliments per day. Point out her positive character traits and kind things that she does.
5. Be available to listen when she wants to talk. Put your phone down! Try not to say "in a minute."
6. Read a book together and discuss it. Like your own version of a book club. (This can also work for long distance grandparents or other relatives).
7. Tell her your stories. Tell her your stories of failure, shame and your accomplishments. Tell her about when you were her age.
8. Listen more. Use the 80-20 rule. 80% listening and 20% talking.
9. Schedule one-on-one quality time once a week with her. An ice cream date. A Starbucks date. Walk the dog together.
10. Get to know her friends. Invite them over. Make your home a place where they can hang out.
11. Nurture her passions.
12. Don't take what she says or does personally. This one is key!!
13. Don't minimize her problems. To her, they seem HUGE.
14. Give her little surprises just because.
15. Respond don't react to her.
16. Take a family trip.
17. Take an interest in what she loves. Ask her questions about it. Learn more about it.
18. Show her empathy. It's hard to grow up! It's hard to have your brain under construction and hormones ravaging inside you! And then be around their friends who all have the same issues.
19. Plan an activity together. Take a class. Plan special outings. Try something new together. Serve together.
20. Warm greetings & farewells. Hug her and show her affection often especially when she leaves for school and comes home.