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The 5-Minute-A-Day Fix For My Moody Tween

It was the five minutes I didn’t realize I needed to spend.

I don’t know about you, but my 5th grade daughter can be a roller coaster. We range between a set of emotions that feels something like “pretty please I’ll do my chores let’s go to Target” to “you’re ruining my life!”, “you’re so embarrassing!”, “don’t make that face!”.

The 5-Minute a Day Fix for my Moody Tween

Image: Getty Images

I thought I’d be able to skip this. Like really I did. I thought I’d have a handle on these angsty little girl emotions. I was a little girl once.  I’ve got this thing.

However, to my dismay, I found the two of us falling into patterns of mutual irritation. And in my mind, I could play it out over the next 5-8 years like a John Hughes movie.

And then it changed – unexpectedly. But I think I’ve made sense of it.

The answer was found in head gear. Just go ahead and raise your hand if you’ve had head gear. I don’t care if you are alone. Own it. It’s an elite sisterhood that brings ones self image to ones knees. But I’m convinced you’re all stronger, better people for it.

My daughter got head gear a couple of weeks ago. We’ve laughed at the lisp and spit sloshing, we’ve cried when she couldn’t figure out how to eat, I’ve installed it upside down, I’ve popped off the safety clip, I’ve screamed in panic because I thought I broke the key off in her mouth. We’ve spent some time dealing with the logistics of head gear.

We usually spend about 5 minutes each night handling head gear. Sometimes pinned on the couch with a flashlight in her mouth. But it’s just the two of us. And in a house of 3 kids all running different ways to different lessons, doing different homework assignments, church activities, and social gatherings, I haven’t stopped to consider that spending 5 minutes alone is a rare occasion with the kids. Don’t get me wrong – we eat dinner together, we run errands together, we spend time together all of the time. But this was a little different. It’s just us. Every night.

This was just enough different that I started to notice that she was happier. She was communicating with me better. She was stopping herself before she went over the “sassy cliff of no return”. The eye rolling got less and less. The tension seemed to disappear. And it was all about time. She was finally getting enough of what she needed from me.

I’m not saying the 5-minute fix is forever. But it’s certainly proof that every minute we spend counts. It doesn’t have to be shopping at Target or going on an outing, it can be the extra 5 minutes you spend putting on head gear.  It was the 5 minutes that neither of us knew we needed.


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Comments (18)

  1. Roxie 02/26/2016 at 10:46 am

    This is another step in the growing up process. I still do not have a warm,fuzzy, touchy feely relationship with my daughter. I envy those who do. I would give anything for a I love you,or a sit next to me on the couch time with her. There is so much animosity and distance.I gave her the floor time when she was younger,in middle school and once she had a boyfriend I didn’t matter. Senior in college and I still feel absolutely disconnected.

    • Jennifer 02/26/2016 at 9:35 pm

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I have a 13 year old daughter and I’m terrified that the same will happen with me. Just keep trying and hopefully things will change for the better. Hugs. ❤

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  3. Tonya 08/02/2015 at 1:51 pm

    This reminds me of an article I read: “When possible, have casual chats. Take advantage of informal moments. For example, some parents have found that teenagers are more apt to open up while doing chores or while riding in the car, when they are side-by-side with a parent rather than face-to-face.” g 1/13

  4. Mary Ethridge 07/16/2015 at 11:44 am

    Made me laugh! While we never had headgear this falls under spending “quality” time with kids. My daughter had her first son at a fairly youngish age. She was a great mom (still is) but she was puzzled by how he would sometimes get so stubborn with her about seemingly minor things. I told her that she needed 10 minutes of “floor play” a couple of times per day. Floor play is what it sounds like. You sit down and let the child entirely direct your activities for 10 minutes. You can even set the timer. Worked amazingly well and 21 years later she is doing it with her current 4 year old. And she did it with the two in between. I have to admit I learned this because I worked in a speech pathologists office who had a clientele of children. Speech Pathologists are taught this in school as a way to settle a child down and get them to become willing to follow directions. I never saw it fail even with the most recalcitrant children.

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  6. Heather Barnes 12/29/2014 at 2:05 pm

    The headgear that my 9 year old daughter had was a major pain in the booty. We had to use needle nosed pliers to get the rubber bands around the hooks in the back of her mouth. I wish I could say it was always a nice bonding time but usually she was crying and I felt terrible about putting this torture device on her. She didn’t have the traditional head gear, it had a pad that rested on her forehead and a pad that rested on her chin. Crazy! I do think the time alone is totally necessary and I need to do something just with her that she will love. Thanks for the reminder

    • Kristia 01/14/2015 at 4:51 am

      I was excited about reading this article because my 9 year gets her headgear in February. Only to read your reply and realize that my daughter will have the same type of headgear–lol.

  7. Mj Ferrier 12/24/2014 at 4:18 am

    I love ‘Sassy Cliff of No Return’

  8. Debbie Menconi 12/23/2014 at 9:57 pm

    Yes, it needs to be time connecting. Chauffeuring and the like does not count. Time when you are not distracted by the other children, tv,electronics-I could go on-you get it. They feel tthe disconnect when you really are not dialed in to them. It is iis hurtful to feeel you do not deserve someone’s attention, so when you thnk of it that way, it is easier to understand the attitude that shows up!

  9. Trish 12/21/2014 at 7:30 pm

    I completely agree with this! I have twin 9 year old girls and a 3 yr old daughter as well. Especially with them being twins I never thought about the importance of alone time for each of them. I always brought them both to do things to be “fair”. Well in the last couple years I have noticed more and more a need for alone time with them. Even if it is a short 5 minutes like you said.

  10. Ivania 12/21/2014 at 3:16 pm

    My 10 year old loves it when I lay her down and clean her ears. It’s our alone time together and we both enjoy it.

  11. Rene 12/20/2014 at 11:04 pm

    What is head gear?

    • Lory 12/21/2014 at 9:30 am

      Headgear is sometimes required when children wear braces on their teeth during orthodontic correction. Headgear is not fun, unsightly,and usually awkward to wear.

    • Justjenny 12/21/2014 at 9:31 am

      I think it is for braces, but the bar that comes out of the mouth and is around the neck. Kids wear them at night.

  12. Rhonda 12/20/2014 at 6:45 pm

    Love this. I have four little ones and when I can spend some one on one time with them I rediscover their little individual personalities. I homeschool, so I am with my kids a lot, but it truly is the one on one time that tends to be “the best part of the day.” Thanks for sharing this idea. Rhonda

  13. Tash 12/20/2014 at 3:32 pm

    What is headgear ?

    • Justjenny 12/21/2014 at 9:31 am

      I think it is for braces, but the bar that comes out of the mouth and is around the neck. Kids wear them at night.