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Preventing tween behavior problems: The key [to preventing tween behavior problems]: building a close relationship. “That way, you’ll have more resources to draw upon later, especially during conflicts,” says Christy M. Buchanan, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Wake Forest University and the mom of teens. A study by Buchanan published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence surveyed 250 sixth- and seventh-graders and their moms and found that the moms who expected their kids to take risks and test limits later on tended to get what they bargained for.

And while parental expectations are just one of many influences on a teenager’s behavior, Buchanan says raising yours can make a difference. Why? Buchanan has several theories. First, our assumptions may tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies because of the way we interact with our kids, she says. So if you think it’s inevitable that your child will get into trouble, then you’re probably less likely to believe that what you do matters — and you may not try as hard to monitor or discipline him.

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