Trusting your tween to make the right decisions

Pediatrician & Author,Cara Natterson, MD, shares advice for parents on whether or not your tween is ready to be trusted to make the right decsisions
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Trusting your tween to make the right decisions

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There are two issues with trust. Trust, as in, did my child lie to me? Then there is that, do I trust my child to do the right thing. They lying kind of trust is tested when they are younger. By five or six, most kids are trying to figure out how to tell a lie, and they are trying to be caught in that lie. Catching your kid in their lie. That's very important. They need to know that you can see it and you are going to call them on it. But the kind of trust issues that come up when kids are tweens, are really questions of; can I believe that when my child is in an awkward position or a scary position, they are going to do the right thing. The issue here is that you are asking them to make an adult decision, making an immature brain. That's a problem. As an adult, I have a frontal lobe that's really mature. That's the part right under my forehead. That part of the brain weighs all of the pros and cons, and comes up with a really good decision. Well, a tween -- even a teen -- does not have a mature frontal lobe. They can't weigh pros and cons like I can. They are making their decision with the limbic system. That's the emotional center of their brain, which is deep in their brain. So I can sit with my child and run scenarios and teach them how to respond in the right way in a given situation; but when they are in that situation, I can't necessarily trust that their brain is going to make the right choice. As a parent and as a pediatrician, my advice to you is don't test your child to make an adult decision when they are young. Their brain is not ready for it. Constantly role play scenarios. Teach your child the right answer, but don't put your child in a situation where they are not going to be able to make the right choice; and then get upset with them because their brain couldn't do it.

Pediatrician & Author,Cara Natterson, MD, shares advice for parents on whether or not your tween is ready to be trusted to make the right decsisions

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Cara Natterson, MD

Pediatrician & Author

Cara Natterson, MD has treated thousands of children and guided their parents as well. She was a partner at Tenth Street Pediatrics in Santa Monica, California, a large group practice serving infants, children and teenagers. She now runs Worry Proof Consulting, the first of its kind pediatric practice that offers parents open-ended time to review everything from medical questions and biology basics to child development and parenting issues. Cara is also the author of several books on parenting and child health. She has a unique ability to translate cutting edge research into understandable terms for parents and their kids. More recently, Cara’s consulting has extended beyond individual families to include fortune 500 companies seeking expert advice on safety issues, child health, and crisis management.

Cara has appeared on television, in print, and on the web. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and she trained in pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Cara is a Board certified pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. And anyone who knows her knows that Cara is, by nature, one of the most risk-averse people on earth. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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