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Handle your teenager with care

They say being a parent is the toughest job in the world. It can certainly feel that way during the teenage years of their children. For many parents, their teenager’s behaviour can be baffling, stressful, hurtful and often worrying. However, it doesn’t mean that there is anything serious going on than the natural process of becoming an adult.


No matter how grumpy your child gets, he still values your communication.

Children show the onset of adolescence with a dramatic change in behaviour towards their parents. They start to distance themselves from parents and become more independent. At the same time, they begin to get increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and try to fit in to that particular “clique.” Their peers often become much more important, as compared with their parents, in terms of making decisions.

As teenagers mature, they begin to think more abstractly. They form their own moral codes. Parents may find that their children who previously had been willing to conform to their rules and regulations will suddenly begin asserting themselves - and their own opinions - strongly and rebelling against parental control.

Let us take a typical conversation:
You - ‘How’s your revision going, son?’
Your child - ‘Why are you checking up on me? Don’t you trust me? I always get good marks, so why ask me about it?’

You - ‘I was only asking. I just wanted to know if you’re going OK with it ...’
Your child - ‘Sure you were ...you always try to pry on me…Leave me alone, please’

As a parent, you will feel hurt, worried and maybe, angry about what’s happened when you have a conversation like this. Your child used to value your interest or input, but now it seems that even the simplest conversations can turn into arguments.

What would you do? React viciously? Start a confrontation ending up with you physically hurting the child. Such action would not solve the issue. It might even worsen it.

First of all, try to understand that there are reasons for your child’s behaviour. (And there’s also good news: this phase will last only a few years.) Remind yourself that they are in an essential part of puberty and growing up. Surges of hormones, combined with body changes are struggling to find an identity and a developing sense of independence. This means the teenage years are a confusing time for your child, also.

Not that your child was rude or disrespectful, but acting like this is a normal part of teenage growth and development.Your child is learning to express and test out his own independent ideas, so there will be times when you disagree.

You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teenager to be an independent individual and ask yourself questions such as: “Am I a controlling parent?,” “Do I listen to my child?,” and “Do I allow my child’s opinions and tastes to differ from my own?” You’re the adult, and it is your responsibility to guide them through difficult times.

Don’t expect to enjoy your time with them all of the time, and remember to look after yourself.

Behaviour patterns


A punished child becomes preoccupied with feelings of anger and fantasies of revenge.

Modern child behaviour scientists also say that teenagers can be quite moody because of how their brains develop and change. The changes going on, especially those affecting the emotional centre of the brain, can sometimes lead to over-sensitivity, as well as changeable moods or attitudes.

Teenagers are starting to think in a deeper way than they did a few years earlier, and they can have thoughts and feelings they have never had before.

They seem to burst into the world with a contrary and radical view on everything. This shift to deeper thinking is also a normal part of development.

Pressure

The happy part of the story is that no matter how grumpy or cross your child gets, he still values your communication. It’s important to keep talking to him - you just might need to be a little more patient and understanding if he is short-tempered or moody.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to get your child to “want” to have good grades, or “want” to get a good job.That’s not likely to happen, either. You are not going to transform your child’s attitude about the world, or their place in it. Rather, it’s your responsibility as a parent to help your child learn the skills he needs to make his way in the world.

You never know, maybe he will get a job as a certified ethical hacker, if that’s what he really want! Just don’t try to convince him that you are right and he is wrong. Don’t try to get him to stop resisting and start being “realistic.”

Instead, focus on the behaviour you would like to see change, and ignore the attitude. Focus on getting your teenager to meet his responsibilities in here and now - homework, chores. Once he concludes his education, he is free to use the skills you’ve helped them learn - or not.

Hints

Experts give few hints how you could handle your teenager’s disrespectful behaviour.

Stay calm. This is important if your child reacts with ‘attitude’ to a discussion. Stop, take a deep breath, and move off. Continue calmly later with what you wanted to say.

Focus on the behaviour, not the person. When you need to talk about some disrespectful behaviour, focus on the behaviour and how you feel about it. Avoid any comments about your child’s personality or character. Instead of saying, “You’re rude”, you could try saying something like, “I feel hurt when you speak like that to me”.

Be a role model. When you’re with your child, try to speak and act the way you want your child to speak and act towards you.

Praise your teenager for positive communication and achievements. When you have a positive interaction, point this out to your child. This lets her know you’re aware of and value her opinions.

Use humour. A shared laugh can break a stalemate, offer a different perspective on a situation, or lighten the tone of a conversation. Being light-hearted can also help take the heat out of a situation - but avoid mocking, ridiculing or being sarcastic.

Sometimes teenagers are disrespectful without meaning to be rude. A useful response can be something like, ‘That comment came across as pretty offensive. I am sure you did not want to be rude’.

And above all, do not physically punish your teenager. Some parents hit their children because they are angry and have lost their temper.

A physically punished child becomes preoccupied with feelings of anger and fantasies of revenge, and is thus deprived of the opportunity to learn more effective humane methods of solving the problem at hand.

Physical punishment also interferes with the bond between parent and child, as it is not human nature to feel loving toward, someone who hurts us. Such punishment, even when it appears to work, can produce only superficially good behaviour based on fear, until the child is old enough to resist.

Just as important as analysing their teenager’s behaviour, parents need to look closely at what they themselves are doing and how they respond to situations.

If parents can change their reactions and the types of consequences used to deal with the teenager, they in turn may modify their teenager’s behaviour and help him mature into a happy, successful young adult.

It’s all in the hands of parents. (For comments contact [email protected])
 

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