Imagine that where your inner thoughts reside, you have a mirror that is permanently attached to you. It goes with you wherever you go and so when your tween looks at you she sees a reflection of herself filtered through your thoughts. Would you be pleased with what she sees? Does your attitude help to create an atmosphere that is positive and welcoming? Or does it reek of criticism and cynicism?

Just as we tell our tweens to create quiet spaces to focus on their homework, parents also need to carve out moments to pause and reflect on their parenting. To examine how your thoughts may be affecting your parenting, we suggest the following exercise:

1) Take a moment to get still and quiet.

2) Focus your thoughts on your tween.

3) Notice and listen to your thoughts. What is the conversation in your head?

4) Write down your internal dialogue to make it more concrete for you.

5) Now take a step back. Maybe even put the list away and come back to the exercise the next day.

6) Review what you have written and ask yourself the following questions:

What is the tone?

Do your thoughts focus only on problematic behavior?

Are your thoughts reflective of who your tween is today or are they focused on predictions of who your tween will be as an adult?

What assumptions are being made?

If someone were thinking these things about you, how would you feel?

How might these thoughts be contributing to the way you parent?

How might these thoughts be contributing to the environment in your home?

7) Use your new awareness to consider how you parent your tween. What changes would you like to make?