THE TEEN ACHE YEARS

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Parenting a teenager is a skill that needs to be learnt

TEENAGE is a period when young people identify their place in the family, peer groups, and the community. Most parents confront real challenges in handling their teens. The transition of an affectionate and obedient child into a rebellious and arguing youth creates an extra sense of concern and worry for parents.

Memories of their past experiences, present environmental influences and constant preoccupation with the future of their child induce extreme anxiety and tension. The teens on the other hand must contend with physical and psychological changes, pressures from parents, peers and the society and increased expectation from everyone. They are under greater pressures, than in their younger years, needing their parental support more than ever. Hence parenting teens need extra understanding and skill.

“Have parents not been through teen years? Then why are they less tolerant of their child’s behavior during this period?”

Parents are usually in their fourth and fifth decade at the time and may be going through midlife crisis. At this stage of life, they are often wondering about the direction of their own lives and careers. Having teenagers who seem to have endless opportunities who appear ungrateful can stir a lot of emotion in parents. Alternatively, parents may be yearning for a calmer period in their life, which may be disturbed by the dynamic, and demanding teenager. In this context it is quite likely for parents to react negatively forgetting the joy in parenting a teenager.

What about parents need to understand about teenage?

Changes occur in physical, mental and psychosocial facets of the teens often making them fel confused, frightened and lacking confidence. Physically, their bodily changes might make them feel awkward and self-conscious. They can experience intense sexual feelings that can be alarming to them, especially if they have no one to confide in. Emotionally, they experience great mood swings as they discover the range of human emotions. Intellectually, they learn to analyse things and develop their own opinions and views. They begin to perceive the inadequacies in the parental world and have constant introspection about their role and meaning in life.

Are parents not needed by them anymore?

It is very normal for this age group to spend more time with their friends and interests distancing themselves from their parents. Yet, they need their parents. Though they are growing up and feel separated from the family, they seek support, guidance and encouragement. They need parents who remain involved and interested in their lives and act as an indivisible steering force.

How to remain connected with your teens?

Building a connection is not something that can be rushed or fitted into a busy schedule. The most important decision you can make is to allocate time for them. Teens are often insecure and are battling pressures around them. The argumentative or sulky moods are only a front and they need more than ever the support and encouragement of their parents. Often a genuine compliment or a pat on their back makes a difference.

Teen’s expectation:

They want their parents to trust and have faith in them but they want privacy as well. They expect independence but also look forward to parental support.

Which parenting styles fail?

There are three styles of disempowering parenting that one can rend towards despite the best of intentions. These styles impart irresponsibility in teenagers and do not prepare them for the task of being an adult.

Over-protective parent:-

Doing everything for your teenagers, for example, waking them up in the morning, washing their clothes, covering for them when they miss homework.

Critical parent:-

Nagging, correcting and policing the teenagers over every task without giving them adequate space and responsibility — for example nagging them is do their homework and criticising their attempts.

Permissive parent:-

Giving your teenagers all the liberty without being involved in them and having little in their lives.

Support the teenager:-

Educate yourself about adolescent development. Remember your own adolescence.

Parenting is a learned skill:-

  1. Listen more than talk less.
  2. Teach your teens about the joys and troubles of life.
  3. Use positive reinforcement for positive behavior
  4. Teach teens that rights and responsibilities go together.
  5. Help them to move towards independence.
  6. Spend quality and quantity time with them.
  7. Seek support and guidance for yourself in dealing with the changes in a child moving through adolescence.
  8. Continue to provide your children with positive feedback and opportunities to grow.

Warning signs:-

  1. Teens in trouble spend most time alone, and isolate themselves from family and friends.
  2. Sudden deterioration in school performance.
  3. Drastic mood swings or changes in behavior.
  4. Changes in your child’s peer group or separation from long time friends or developing strange friendships.
  5. Lack of interest in hobbies or social and recreational activities.

 

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