At this point in your match your Little may be a tween or young teen, and this comes with some changes and may be an appropriate time to re-set match expectations. Littles may have different interests or just prefer to engage with you a little differently now that they are older. This can be very different than what it was like when you were first matched but that can also provide space for new opportunities with your Little.
PYD – This can be a more difficult time in a match when it comes to PYD because of where Little is developmentally. Little may have changes in mood or interests at this time and that does not necessarily mean it is a PYD goal to be addressed. Your connection can feel different, Little might be trying to figure out what their relationship looks like with you now that they are not a “little kid” anymore. They may seem less talkative or interested on outings, or spend a lot of time on their phone. Connecting with Guardian about how Little is doing outside of the context of your match is important at this stage. Conversations with Match Support about child development will also help if there are any shifts in dynamic.
Safety / Setting Limits – It might be a good idea to talk about safety very directly with Little at this age, especially around setting limits, as they are most likely very comfortable with you at this point but may see themselves as old enough to not need you to keep them safe, or forget that you are the one to set boundaries on their behavior when you are out. This is also an age where social media can come into play and Littles might want to friend you on Snapchat.
Communication / Rapport – Little may have their own phone now and this can create challenges and shifts in rapport. Little or Guardian might want you to communicate primarily with them through Little’s phone, but this comes with challenges including Little being responsible with their phone and looping in Guardian. A group text chat for planning can be beneficial to keeping Guardian in the loop and allows for transparency in regards to safety. Rapport may also feel different with Little, the dynamic may change now that they are getting older, but that does not mean they are not still interested in your match!
Building trust is an important part of any relationship, for more guidance around this please check out of Bigs Guide to Building Trust.
Establishing Routines – After a couple of years you may feel like you have a few go-to outings that you both enjoy and want to keep those in regular rotation. There should be less pressure to feel like you have to come up with a new outing idea every time. Shifts may come in communication routines with Little having a phone and maybe having more afterschool activities if you have weekday outings. It is a good time to check-in with Guardian about such possible shifts in routine and to reevaluate what will work for all of you.
Common Match Challenges – Communication with Little having their own phone, Little seeming disinterested in match, maintaining communication with Guardian, feeling like you have to entertain Little with new outings every time.
As you and your Little are building trust and rapport it can be helpful to know what your Little needs to best express themselves and feel safe to practice Positive Youth Development (PYD) skills in your match. Click here for more information.