I'd been outside, happily gardening, for the last few hours. Getting lost in my garden is one of my favorite past times and one of the few ways I can decompress. I'm not so much a yoga person -- I'm much more a "break stuff and haul it around" kinda girl. It works well.

When I went inside I saw my eldest standing there watching television while the smaller kids both snuggled up in their beds.

"Okay Ben," I said nicely. "Time to brush your teeth and get ready for bed." Not an unreasonable request, considering it was half an hour past his bed time.

"FINE," he nearly screamed, stomping off to the bathroom to brush his teeth, rolling his eyes along the way. Why the attitude?

What just HAPPENED?

The Tween Years. That's what happened. Here's how I am coping with the preteen attitude.

I stay calm ... Even when the kid is so far under my skin, I can practically see him there, I count to ten, breathe, and then continue with my conversation with him. I try not to lash back at him because I don't want a power struggle, instead, I remain calm. Someone has to.

I praise the good things ... Sure, my kid has as much attitude as I did at that age (read: a lot), but he's also a really good kid. Sometimes he does make me want to pull my hair out, but even when he's doing that, I remind him that he is, in fact, a really good kid. Because he is.

I follow through with any consequences ... If I've threatened to take away his sleepovers or his time on the Game Cube, I do so. One of the best ways to reinforce bad behavior is to be consistent part of the time. So I'm not. I'm all in ... or all out.

I work with him on one thing at a time ... Sure, he's rolling his eyes, stomping around, and talking to me as though I'm a small child. But rather than critiquing his entire attitude, I focus on one thing (generally, talking down to me) at a time.

I've developed a thicker skin ... Between a vicious older brother and being a blogger, my skin is pretty think, or I thought it was until I had a preteen. I try to remember that I was once just like him and recall that this phase, too, passed. Everyone was happier when it did. Including me.

So that's how I cope with the preteen attitude. How do YOU cope with it? Any suggestions?


Image via chefranden/Flickr