Recommended Reading for Parents
HOW TO HUG A PORCUPINE
Author: Julie A. Ross M.A.
The perfect title for a book on how to cope with a prickly tween! It is written in a very clear style, with no jargon or psychobabble and lots of illustrative anecdotes which ring frighteningly true. Without rewriting the entire book, I will synopsise a few of her points:
The period of pre and early adolescence is a time when a child is going through a phase of metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood. We should view it similarly to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. “Similar to the caterpillar who spins a chrysalis to protect itself while it changes into a butterfly, our children “protect” themselves with anger, sensitivity, tears, defiance and disorganisation. These behaviours are the human chrysalis, the outer shell that protects the delicate, unformed butterfly while it’s at its most vulnerable”. Moving a chrysalis around too much, shaking it or exposing it to extremes in temperature can damage the delicate process that the future butterfly is undergoing. So we must treat our chrysalis carefully while they develop their new identity. During this time we must change too, from a controlling and protective mindset to a preparatory one where we are asking “how can I prepare my child to protect himself and make independent and appropriate choices?” We must use this time to build our relationship with them because when they hit adolescence we will no longer have any control over them and will have to rely entirely on whether our relationship with them is strong enough so they are influenced by our needs, desires and values.
Self worth is based on 4 levels, with unconditional positive regard being the foundation. It’s during this tumultuous time when, because of their developing sense of self, they need more than ever to feel that they have stable and unconditional love from us. This is also, unfortunately, the most common time for us to slip into disrespectful communication or behaviour.
The next level up is real accomplishments. These may be big or small, but are things they couldn’t do before. In order to work towards the development of self esteem, they must involve a degree of struggle. Children for whom certain things come easily may not have high self esteem. It is our role to make sure they get the right amount…not too much or too little.
The books gives many suggestions as to how we can guide our tweens through this phase without damage to either them our ourselves and have them develop into respectful, independent butterflies with whom we have a strong relationship. A tall order, I know, but I have found some very useful ideas in this book and would heartily recommend it to anyone with kids from around 10 upwards. I’m not sure of the upper age limit, but I would guess maybe 14 or so, depending on the child. I know they aren’t tweenies after 13, but I think most of the strategies would still apply.
A preview of this book can viewed on Google Book Search.
Reviewed by "Peps"
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