The tween and teen years can feel like a perpetual game of ping pong. Sometimes you may be the observer watching your child alternate daily between euphoria and anxiety. Sometimes you may feel like the ball, being hit by unforeseen situations and feeling unsure of how to exert your influence.
When we are in the hustle and bustle of daily life, the energies of both parent and tween/teen are pulled in countless directions. We suggest using the Zoom Approach to help balance the pressing every day matters with important long-term goals.
The Zoom Approach begins with zooming out and, just like the zoom lens on a camera, broadening your perspective on your life. This usually requires being relaxed and stepping away from the emotional whirlwinds for a moment. For a parent, zooming out involves considering what you want for your tween’s life and if your current parenting approaches are helping her move in that direction. Nudge yourself to think outside of the box and consider possibilities rather than problems and obstacles. When you zoom out you are in touch with your purpose as a parent and your intentions become clear. It may involve allowing yourself to think out loud with an objective and non-judgmental person.
Once the big picture has come into focus, you can zoom in to look at specific and practical ways to move help your tween move toward that concept. This often entails setting achievable parenting goals and breaking those down into even smaller action steps. It means identifying what you can and can’t control and focusing your energy on changing negative behaviors and belief systems that block your effectiveness as a parent. During the preadolescent years, your ability to solve all of your tween’s problems begins to diminish. As you zoom in, you’ll need to determine if you are the right person to help your tween through the current issue or does he need to figure it out for himself and experience the results of her decisions? It may also be that you need to enlist the support of someone else who can help your tween.
When your internal zoom lens is permanently fixed on the wide view, you may easily envision your dreams, but have difficulty developing plans for completion. When you are stuck and only see things close up, you become more vulnerable to anxiety as the small details increase in importance at the expense of the overall vision. Not only can you apply the Zoom Approach to your role as a parent, but you can encourage your tween to use it also. We encourage you to carve out time to continually rotate your internal zoom lens. It’s a solid investment in your day and in your tomorrow!
Situations that require an adjustment in perspective will vary widely, but the following questions may be useful when practicing this technique.
Zooming Out Questions:
What are my hopes for my tween? Would my tween share these hopes?
How does my tween’s environment support these hopes?
What is my tween learning about life right now?
What values, belief, or perspectives is my tween developing from her experiences?
Does the situation I am concerned about fit into an ongoing pattern?
Zooming In Questions:
Have I considered all the possibilities in this situation?
What can be controlled in this situation?
What cannot be controlled in this situation?
What resources are available to manage this situation?
What is my role as a parent in this situation?
What is my tween’s role in this situation?
What can I say or do to help my tween learn from his or her current experiences?
What can be done today that would represent movement toward the long-term goal?