Aside from all of the physiological changes and psychological changes, preteens are also focused on one major aspect of their lives: their dreams. Every kid wants to be the star athlete or performer. And many parents want the same thing for their kids.
Soon the thing they like doing becomes the idea that the dream becomes their future. Parents tend to be caught in between helping preteens follow their dreams for them and helping their preteens discover their dreams for themselves.
Dan Scott thinks there is a better way to relate and connect to your preteen. Trained in elementary and middle school education and author of a preteen-focused parenting book Caught in Between, Scott understands the minds of tweens and shares the six ways parents can help preteens discover their dreams:
- Start with what you know but don’t stay with what you know.
- Give them lots of experiences.
- Take extra-curricular activities a season at a time.
- Keep the conversation going.
- Surround your kids with leaders.
- Say OUT LOUD what your kids are good at.
What inspired you to write Caught in Between?
I had been working with preteens for about 20 years at the time, and throughout the years I’d noticed a shift that happened somewhere between 4th and 5th grade. Kids that were once engaged suddenly became disengaged. I mainly saw this trend with the churches I’d been working with. They all saw a major drop off in attendance once kids came back from Christmas break. At the same time, I also saw this in my own home as I talked with my kids about their experience in the church. I decided to research this and discover why this was the case and create strategies for how we might help kids reengage in the life of the church.
Tell us about your work with preteens
Besides having raised four of my own, my background is in middle school education and directing a Sunday morning elementary program at our church. At the church, we made a focused effort to connect with preteens and their parents to give them a unique environment they looked forward to attending. We saw increased retention in this age group along with kids inviting their friends because of the great time they were having. Now that I’m not on staff at a church, I continue to speak to preteens in camp, retreat, and Sunday morning church settings throughout the year. I want to keep a pulse of how these kids are thinking about life.
Any new books in the making?
I always have ideas. The tricky part is deciding which ideas are books, which are talks, or which should be blog posts or articles. I’ve recently been researching a lot on mental illness in the preteen years and how the church might be able to address that. I’m looking forward to seeing what could come of that. This generation is the most stressed-out generation to date. How we help them navigate that will be a mark of the church in the next several years.
Challenges of a writer in today’s times
With the advent of social media, it seems like everyone needs a platform to get a book deal. While this is somewhat true, don’t let the lack of a platform keep you from writing what you feel you should. We have this ideal of what it looks like to be a writer, but the truth is that very few people make their full living from writing. Writing books is an aspect of what they do. Diversify your options with speaking, consulting, and a full-time job until the writing takes off. Very few writers will be super successful after their first book; it takes time and consistency to build an audience.
What advice would you give an inspiring writer?
Your take on a topic is unique because it comes for your unique experience in the world, so start writing. Make a habit of it. Then have other people read it. Start a blog or use a platform like Medium or use your Instagram feed, not just for short captions, but also for longer, thoughtful ideas – use the 2200 characters to your advantage. However, you decide, it’s important to float your ideas into the world and see what sort of feedback you receive. This will help you hone your voice and figure out what it is you really want to say.