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A Note from PBIS: Communicating with your pre-teen

When they were younger you could ask direct questions. How was school? How did you do on the test? Now, the direct approach — asking specific questions about their day — doesn’t always work. Suddenly that feels overwhelming and intrusive. And it may backfire. If anything, says Dr. Kirmayer, you have to take the opposite approach and position yourself as a listener: “If you actually just sit down, without questions, and just listen, you’re more likely to get the information about your child’s life that you’re wanting.” Dr. Kirmayer says this approach gives kids the message that “this is a place where they can come and talk, and they have permission to say anything that they’re thinking or feeling.” Sometimes you’ll be able to help and give advice—but don’t try to step in and solve all their problems. Other times you’ll just be there to empathize with how hard it is to deal with whatever they’re going through.