How to help our Post PSLE Tween Son transit to Teenage Hood?

Those pair of tiny feet has grown to fill up his papa’s shoes (slippers in this case). He has now officially grown taller than me by a few inches more just in a month or so!

“If your son is 12 yo again, how would you have spent time differently with him after PSLE to prepare him for teenage hood? Are there any good experiences you can share?”

This was the question my husband posed to his friends and he got me to ask my friends too. For those reading with daughters, the big ideas are the same. The details I will evaluate when my girl’s time comes.

We believe that the post PSLE period is a significant opportunity to be treasured and protected as a key transition period for teenage hood. Three months of ‘freedom’ as we perceived having escaped from the clutches of PriSonLeavingExaminations. It is a time of all hell breaks loose celebrations.

For our family, it marks the end of one milestone and a celebration to the next milestone.

My husband had everything planned. He would whisk my boy off to their Father and Son 3 days staycation hotel. The highlight would be a 12km hike where they can chat and trail through nature. He also invited a few significant adults and youths to share about God and their growing up experience with our boy. I really thank God for my husband’s proactive and intentional parenting approach for our kids.

Instead of waiting for the trip to be over, I wish to share what I have gained so that you might have time to plan likewise for your child. I have compiled all the insightful reflections gathered from parents who have grown up sons as well as a few youths who felt time could be spent differently post PSLE period.

“If your son is 12 yo again, how would you have spent time differently with him after PSLE to prepare him for teenage hood? Are there any good experiences you can share?”

We can provide

  1. Spiritual Support

On our part, other than the three-day retreat with dad, we plan to go through the Purpose Driven Life book with our son and also discover together with him what his talents and dreams are.

Another recommendation and reflection were from my friend D and MH. They are parents of 3 growing teenage sons.

“We learnt to focus on 4 key areas throughout the years of parenting: character, relationships, identity and mission.

So there are ongoing conversations and engagement to nurture them in these.
We totally recommend this Passport2Purity Getaway resource for parents to walk through with their preteens! We saw first-hand how the intentional getaway helped to bond parent-child and the deliberate efforts to initiate conversations on peer pressure, friendship, courtship, puberty issues built a strong bridge between the boys and us. The two older boys continue to approach us on friendship , ‘crush’ and other issues that are addressed in the getaway resource. Our youngest will be going for his 3-day getaway with Dad two weeks after psle. This is THE growing up milestone that they have each looked forward to. (Parents D and MH)

https://www.cru.org/sg/en/train-and-grow/familylife/passport2purity.html

It is interesting that my hubby had already all these planned out before we knew about these materials. I ordered this set of DVDs more for myself as a mum to learn about my growing up son. This resource also caters to girls growing up. I thought it was a good investment to make for my 3 kids! However, you would need to go through everything carefully and leave out those areas which may have overt discussions on sex. Consider your level of comfort and context of our Asian and family dynamics and adapt accordingly.

2. Tradition

One of our established family ritual is to spend One to One time with each individual child. They are the deeper connecting moments where we can pay full attention on this one child. We also plan to make this Post PSLE celebration and retreat thing a ritual for all our kids who comes of age to experience.

“Reflect and say bye bye to Primary school assessments, papers and textbooks” (Mum YQ)

Spend EXTRA TIME with him talking, doing things that he likes, listening to him. Because when they hit their teens, it is hard to get even a few words out of them in a day! Thankfully, I have no regrets being a stay home mum and work from home mum when he was younger. The bond was formed and I’m glad that as a result, even until today (he’s 15), he will still come to me and share with me his problems and worries, or asks me to pray for him. If there’s really a prep for teenage years, I think it is done during their formative years. Bond with them when they still need you to be there.” (Mum HI)

3. Out of the norm Celebration

Almost all the feedback had a unanimous vote for ‘Out of the norm’ celebration! A time to experience something new, big, adventurous, fun, meaningful, enriching and even wacky?! It can range from an extended family trip (okay, now maybe a trip to nowhere or staycation?) / One to One trip / time out with friends by himself for a day / camps / new courses

“It is a time of recognising his growing up. I asked H, what he wanted then? He said definitely not going out for a meal only. Rather doing something a teenager loves to do. So, it has to be something that he wants to do but did not get to do when he was in primary school. So, it has to be something out of the routine when you are out one-to-one with him.” (Dad SR)

“He likes nature, I would spend more time with him trekking in the nature park, go kayaking with him, take ferry to St John island with him. My son is a more cautious person, I think this would help him be more risk taking. He would then probably be more ready for the new set of friends.” (Parent H)

“Thinking back I felt I would have definitely wanted to spend more time reading more and playing the guitar more. But with this context, I think it’s good to just enjoy the time also to visit interesting places and just to do fun different activities which there might not be enough time to do in the future, basically use the time to experience more things and not just do the same things everyday. I would wish for someone to have taught me not to be so fearful of things I’ve never tried and to just have tried it” (Youth A)

“Doing more things that i wanted, and dared to try out new things. Experience as much as possible so i had a better idea of what the world is like, instead of just spending the time after PSLE staying at home. I would have wanted someone to advise me to just go ahead and try new things since being 12years old, there’s not as many consequences as being older and time is a lot less tight than later on in life.” (Youth B)

“For myself, after my PSLE I spent almost all of my time training for badminton. Looking back, perhaps I may have done differently. I could have spend half of my time playing sports and the other half developing my creativity and in any area of arts. I am fortunate to pick up graphic design after O level which have helped me to become a more creative person. Nevertheless, if I had the chance I would have started even earlier.” (Youth C)

“12km hike (because 12yo ) For bonding and providing an opportunity for shared sense of achievement” ( Parent D and MH)

4. Communicate and Affirm him

If we can’t afford to have a long trip with the child, the most basic thing to do is to carve out time and prioritise communication with him/her. Observe all the positive growth he or she has shown in the recent years and affirm them with sincerity and examples of what you have seen in their character and life-skills progress. Then walk and talk through what kind of physical, emotional and mental changes that will take place during puberty and the secondary school life. Grow and do life together with them.

“Telling him how proud I am of him, no matter the result. Just reaffirm his identity with confidence through words, xoxo and mini celebrations. (Mum JP)

Expect to experience changes ahead. Physically as well as mentally. Physically as he may grow at a faster rate, voice change, maybe some tiny moustache. Also he will find holding hands with me weird. He may be very self conscious, how he looks and feels. It is also a time of self discovery. His strength and weaknesses. He may also find that being with girls are not that ‘disgusting’ as before.” (Parent BR)

Choices and More are the 2 things I prep them for.

Choices:

  1. Choose wisely (CCA that will not clash with Sat church services)
  2. Honour God in whatever choices we make
  3. Honour school rules, teachers, parents and friends

More

  1. More subjects to handle = less time to play and sleep
  2. More responsibility – Start assign them with household chores
  3. More love – among sibling, parents, friends and teachers” (parent QL)

I would also take this opportunity to do research and discuss on the usage of phone device and the internet.

Positive influencers

Another important aspect to consider working on is to help your child build connections with youths who have a heart for God. Interestingly, the youths who gave feedback had surfaced a great need for a positive youth model whom they could look up to at that point of time.

“I definitely feel that it’s important to have someone from a slightly older age group to become role model and inspire the younger kids. To me personally, rather than the words of advice, at that age I was more attracted and inspired by the positive image of my seniors (including those older batches we see during reunion). When I was younger, it’s hard to imagine what kind of person I would be in the future. But through interaction with people from slightly older age group, they ended up becoming standards that I hope to achieve or maybe even surpass in the future. After PSLE I was prepping in advance for Sec sch and just having a lot of fun w computer games?” (Youth C)

It would be nice having someone who are slightly senior to give me some advice on what to expect in secondary school and how to choose the one that suits me. I also feel that one of my biggest transformation came in lower secondary, as my teachers had trusted me and gave me a chance to lead as a class representative and eventually school counsellor. I think that trust to lead a small group of people and also to know that your work matters and are appreciated. Those things encouraged me to do more I would say. If we can help young students to “see” that earlier or give them a safe space to experiment on things like that, they can also feel that empowerment that they can do much more.” (Youth D)

Finally, our main role is to grow together with them, love and do life together with them in the Lord. As we have benefitted from the above reflections, I hope this sharing can give you better clarity and motivation to spur your child on to the next stage in confidence. We are looking forward to that precious time and praying for the Holy Spirit to work in all of us as we spend time together.

Thank you all for those who have taken time to share your precious reflections that we may learn from you!

For more posts on learning and growing:

  1. Counting Up Blessings to PSLE
  2. Process of education starts from the heart of our home
  3. For what is worth in our academic pursuits?
  4. New Routine: Interest based 1 to 1 and chinese reading habits
  5. Teach the art of learning to learn?
  6. How do I maintain creativity in kids?
  7. Moving Minds, Heartening Hearts
  8. A loss nothing compared to gains in Sept Hols
  9. The heArt of growth mindset
  10. The heArt of growth mindset: I can learn anything!
  11. Smile it’s Exams! Great time to grow and glow!
  12. Raising motivated kids
  13. Small spaces for 3 growing hearts
  14. Younger Peek-a-day! Routine

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