By: Article written by Mrs. Anuja Kapur (Psychologist)
Teenage is such an age where your babbler son now answers your questions with a moody “yes” or “no.” Your charming daughter won’t go to the store with you at all anymore. They must be teenagers. Don’t despair. It’s natural — and important — for kids to break away from their parents at this age. This emotional separation allows them to become well-adjusted adults. However, it is all the more important to keep a check at this age as it decides what and where your children plan to lead their life towards. You may not feel like you have much influence on your child these days, but teens’ behavior is highly correlated with the strength of their bonds with their parents. Below mentioned are a few tips to help the parents overcome some obstacles with their teenagers:-
- It is time to offer your kids some space-Giving teens a chance to establish their own identity, giving them more independence, is essential to helping them establish their place in the world. But if it means they are mingling in a bad company then it is time for parents to come into action.
- Choose your battles wisely-Doing themselves harm or doing something that could be permanent (like a tattoo), those things matter however purple hair, a messy room — those don’t matter. Don’t nitpick. It is just a phase that will eventually pass.
- Invite their friends over-It helps to meet kids you have questions about. You’re not flat-out rejecting them, you’re at least making an overture. When kids see them, see how their friends act with their parents, they can get a better sense of those friends. It’s the old adage, you catch more bears with honey than vinegar. If you flatly say, you can’t go out with those kids, it often can backfire — it just increases the antagonism.
- Decide rules and discipline in advance-If it’s a two-parent family, parents need to have their private discussion, so they can come to some kind of agreement, so parents are on the same page. Whether you ban them from driving for a week or a month, whether you ground them for a week, cut back on their allowance, or Internet use — whatever — set it in advance. If the kid says it isn’t fair, then you have to agree on what is a fair punishment. Then, follow through with the consequences.
- Discuss ‘checking in-Give teens age-appropriate curfews, especially if they behave appropriately. Although you need to know where they are as that is part of responsible parenting. If it feels necessary, require them to call you during the evening, to check-in. But that depends on the teen, how responsible they have been.
- Talk to teens about risks-Whether it’s drugs, driving, or premarital sex, your kids need to know the worst that could happen.
- Provide the teens with a last resort- Tell them: If the only option is getting into a car with a drunk driver, call me — I don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning. Or make sure they have cab fare. Help them figure out how to handle a potentially unsafe situation, yet save face. Brainstorm with them. Come up with a solution that feels comfortable for that child.
- A safe haven to discuss without judgement- Don’t interrogate, but act interested. Share a few tidbits about your day; ask about theirs. How was the concert? How was the date? How was your day? Another good line: You may not feel like talking about what happened right now. I know what that’s like. But if you feel like talking about it later, you come to me. You have to be their safe space.
- A little guilt can work wonders-I think too much is made about self-esteem. Feeling good about yourself is healthy. But people should feel bad if they have hurt someone or done something wrong. Kids need to feel bad sometimes. Guilt is a healthy emotion. When kids have done something wrong, we hope they feel bad, we hope they feel guilty and learn from their mistakes. A sour lesson learned.
- Be what you want your young ones to be-. Lead with an example. Your actions — even more than your words — are critical in helping teens adopt good moral and ethical standards. If they have a good role model from early on, they will be less likely to make bad decisions in their rebellious teen years.