Adolescence is that very dynamic time of life that has been described by a parent, as one that comes with a pimple, is spattered with acne and ends with a beard. It is also an exciting and tumultuous time that includes tears, fears and jeers as teenagers struggle with raging hormones. Due to the rapid physical and emotional changes, for some children it can be a physically painful time as well. “It is definitely a challenging period and from experience I can tell you it is difficult not just for the child but for the parents as well,” says Snehal Nayak, a parent of two teenagers. “It is also a time when they are gearing up for adulthood and as parents it is our duty and responsibility to guide them correctly and teach them skills that will be much required in the near future.”
Parents do love their children and it is natural for them to want to do everything for their children. However as children are closer to adulthood it is vital that they learn to be independent and here the role of the parent becomes very crucial. “In India more often than not we parents are over-protective about our children unlike the West where children are taught to be independent from a very early age,” says Nilima (name changed) who returned from the West a couple of years back.
Over protective parents harm their children without realising it. Their over protectiveness inhibits their children from growing into confident and independent adults.
“It is important that by the time young people are ready to leave home either for studies or work, it is best they know how to take care of themselves. There are some who learn the necessary skills when they are still at home from parents or adults who give the right kind of guidance when needed,” says counsellor Michele. She also points out that those not equipped with these skills find it hard to cope and in extreme cases leads to a lot of complications.
After speaking with a few parents, below is a list of recommended ways to support your adolescent in the challenging teen years:
Be available when
It may appear your teenager does not want your advice or does not care about what you think but do not be fooled by it. They need you now more than ever. Do your best to be available when they want to speak or require some advice. They may open the talk with trivial matters before coming to the important stuff. You being there for them at the given time can make the difference between a good and bad/dangerous decision.
Change your parenting
style to match the need
of the moment
Don’t be rigid, relax and learn to let go while still providing the support needed. Preventing your youngster from the learning that comes from making mistakes only hinders his growth.
Adolescents need to learn to make decisions on their own, but it’s best when that decision-making skill builds slowly and steadily, starting in early childhood. Children learn from consequences as they make decisions. Learning good choices gives them self confidence, a major factor in independence.
Recognise your child’s
Children’s self assurance grows upon realising they possess admirable traits. Praise helps them demonstrate positive qualities, resulting in greater confidence, social acceptance and good work skills. Too much however of anything is bad!
Conflict and power issues are to be expected
As long as there’s love and good humour in your relationship, the conflict and power issues are fine but should be treated with care.
See beyond the rebellion
Most teenagers try on a number of different identities—angry, spoiled, rebellious, cool, etc, before they become the person they are. Do your best to see past the latest surface behaviour to the real person you’ve known since birth.
Help your child broaden their horizons
Adolescence is an ideal time to discover interests, abilities and curiosities. Your teenager will benefit enormously from exposure to a diversity of ideas, activities, places, and people. Encourage your teenager to find out what they really want to learn about and keep as many options open with regards to career as well as education.
Remember your teenager is changing very rapidly and the best you can do is try and keep up with it. Trying to predict what will come next is futile. Until your child is responsible for making their own life, you’ve got a challenging balancing act ahead.