Ah, parenting preteens, finally our kids are ready to stand on their own two feet. Our job is nearly done. Our children, as they grow into pre-teens, don’t need us so much. Right? Wrong! They need our love and warm attention, just as much now as when they clung to us sobbing on their first day at school. They need our confidence in them. They need our faith in their intrinsic goodness. They need our conviction that they can figure out this perplexing, sometimes hostile world and find their place.
Of course we parents worry that if we show warmth and even humour when a child is acting aggressively, he won’t learn to govern his behaviour. This concern is rooted in the idea that the child who lashes out is choosing to do so. In fact, the child who hits out feels trapped an emotional corner, and is in what Patty Wipfler calls an “emotional emergency.”