Who is that stranger in your house ?

"Youth today love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, no respect for older people, talk nonsense when they should work "- These words were penned by Socrates in 500 BC. So what is new now, teenagers have remained the same through the centuries.

Today’s teenagers are no different except that the world they live in has changed and even the most caring parents may not be able to protect their teenagers from the problems they might encounter. Neither a child nor an adult (even though he or she may believe just the opposite) our teen is at a stage of life when he or she is experiencing many different things that seem strange especially peoples behavior towards them. As the parent of a teen it is crucial that parents should know how to handle the situation with sensitivity and loads of understanding! This time in your child's life is extremely crucial to their all round development and also for the emotional health of the entire family!

For parents it is not easy trying to juggle work, coping with other daily chores, probably even recovering from serious illness and life’s general day to day worries and more than anything coping with a teenager with raging hormones! The most important thing here is to ensure that your teenager does feel valued as a person in his or her own right, being able to make their own decisions with guidance if necessary, and have certain boundaries in place and certain responsibilities. But many parents find this a very difficult task, and they simply put up their hands!

In fact many parents I have spoken to are convinced that they only have to treat their teens with respect if the teens act a certain way (which is usually their way) and don’t have ‘issues’ ( here again complying with their wishes and having no freedom to express themselves ) and comply with all requests calmly. They don’t seem to realise that it is just so not realistic and things don't work that way in life. Here one wonders who needs counselling more - the parents or the teenagers, that's precisely why most clinics insist that parents be present and contribute while dealing with teenage troubles.

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Communication is Important

Communication as always is very important in any relationship. Communicating your love for your child is the single most important thing you can do to keep things working in the right manner. According to Psycho analysts children and more importantly teenagers decide how they feel about themselves in large part by how their parents react to them. For this reason, it's very important for parents to help their children feel good about themselves. It is also important to communicate with them and make them understand the importance of values and to set expectations and limits. This helps them realise the importance of being honest, have self-control and respect for others, while still allowing them have their own space.

But the sad part is most parents seem to forget what it was like to be a teenager. They look back on those years but through the sadder but wiser lens of adulthood and get frustrated with their teens when they won’t listen. This leads to many misunderstandings and frustrations on both sides. Parents need to understand that they are older and wiser than teenagers who are just about beginning to understand life and its many complications, and make things easier for them by constantly communicating with them and guiding them without being imposing.

Teenagers and their mood swings

This is a very common occurrence among teens since they are undergoing so many changes both physical and emotional and are unable to handle it. This can be serious especially in those with low self-esteem or with family problems and are at risk for a number of self-destructive behaviors such as using drugs or alcohol or having unprotected sex. This is a period of life when they need to be carefully watched and guided. Depression and eating disorders are also common health issues that many teens face.

I am listing out some of the warning signs that show that your child is having a problem

1, Agitated or restless behavior and have trouble concentrating – you can see them losing temper at the slightest reason and when questioned they get angry and don't want to communicate with you. They have problem concentrating on any task including listening when spoken to.

2,Weight loss or gain – You see them lose or gain weight all of a sudden. In fact here a sudden loss of weight is even more worrisome since it shows that they are under stress and are not eating a nutritive diet. Sudden gain weight gain also indicates a similar pattern where the teenager is over indulging to get over the stress factor.

3, Poor performance – This is another indication that all is not going well with your child. First of all, never force children do anything against their wish, which is a sure way of getting them disinterested in what they are doing within a matter of months. Instead of adding more stress by grumbling about it, it is better to have a heart to heart talk and see what is bothering him or her and take remedial measures.

4, Feel depressed and sad – This happens often with teenagers since they are yet to develop a balanced approach to life. They are just about becoming aware of adult things and often things around them especially the many ups and downs there are in life confuse them and leave them feeling disillusions. Here again a day today monitoring by the parents and communicating takes care of most issues.

5, Not caring about people and things – This is a typical teenage behavior and needs to be taken in the right spirit without creating a fuss. In time they come out of it and learn the importance of human relationships and value for things. At the same time try not to criticise or vent out your feelings in front of them since it only does long term harm to them and their opinion of you.

6, Lack of motivation – This is because they are totally confused, especially when parents try to preach them and tell them what lies ahead. Let them take things as they come and make them learn things step by step. This is the reason why parents should start making their children shoulder at least some minimal responsibilities right from the beginning.

7, Feeling tired, loss of energy and lack of interest in activities – We see teenagers sometimes sleeping and staying at home for days together , refusing to attend classes and refusing to go out. This may be due to lack of energy which means that the child is not receiving enough nutrition and it is time to change his or her diet and as always communication is essential to get to the root of the problem

8, Low self-esteem – Many teenagers are unhappy with the way they look and are constantly worrying about how others perceive them especially members of the opposite sex. A wise parent can take this opportunity to get their children to take healthy diet and do some exercise routine to make things better for themselves.

9, Getting Addicted – We see many youngsters standing around in malls and public places whiling time away either smoking or drinking alcohol in pubs even get into drug abuse. There is always a reason why they do it – it could be bad company, to relieve built up stress or simply experimenting with the stuff. There will be enough warning signals that parents can identify and try to get them out of it before it is too late. Beating your head in frustration and expressing displeasure and reprimanding them is not going to help, in fact it might have adverse effects !

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Work Together

It is very important to maintain open communication with the teenagers and work together , more so when you suspect there is a problem. Have a talk with him or her and ask your teen about what is bothering him or her. Don't ignore a problem in the hope that it will go away, it never does, in fact only gets aggravated with time and negligence on your part.

As we all know, it is easier to cope with problems when they are relatively minor , which also gives you and your teen the opportunity to learn how to work through the problems together. Later it might be too late when the youngster is already steeped into it and feeling disillusioned with you, his parents and the whole world ! If you feel that you need help while dealing with them don't hesitate to ask for help from others , like the school or college head ( if you feel and are confident that they are able to help your child) your family doctor, who might suggest a counselor or offer some help and suggestions when it is a problem related to health both physical and emotional

Most of us parents don’t think back and realise that we have been through all these different stages in life but I have also heard how parents are quick to justify, find excuses and forgive their own mistakes in life. But when it comes to their own children they tend to behave high handed and give the impression as if teenagers are only acceptable when they have everything all figured out little realising that such a thing is impossible.

Be an effective parent

With few exceptions, good kids are the product of good parenting and this fact is well known. So what about the teen years? How does one cope with that ? Is it possible for parents to influence and instill an all round positive development of their children after they reach puberty?

Also more importantly are parents equipped to deal with adolescent culture, peer pressure and the society in general ? Many parents today have their doubts regarding these issues and feel that it is best to leave the teenagers to their own devices. But according to psycho analysts it is possible for parents to make things positive and make life much easier for a teenager.

First of all, Parents who take the trouble to understand what is going on in the lives of their children during adolescence years and are willing to apply a few simple parenting principles will and can remain the most important influence in the lives of their children. There is of course no such thing as a perfect parent, but all parents can become a little better if they make the effort. It’s definitely not enough for parents to cross their fingers and hope for the best. Parent can benefit from the kind of help and encouragement offered through books and reading material that is easily available in stores and on the net that provides valuable insights into the unique challenges of parenting teenagers in today’s world.

As parents we must accept that our teens are going to make some mistakes, in fact if they don’t make mistakes how do they learn what is right and what is wrong and make amends? It could be anything from having been involved in a minor accident while taking a friends bike on a test ride or making crank calls. We can only hope that the mistakes they make are not the big ones may ruin their lives.. They may make some decisions that are unwise or just plain silly, but one that can be resolved with some guidance and advice.

According to analysts , how we treat our children’s mistakes is just as important as we treat their successes. Once we Realise that mistakes are part of growing up and accept that they are inevitable and not the end of the world , our kids are able to get the right perspective and will respect their parents for having been there!

Trying to understand them and make the teens feel valued as individuals with their own thoughts and opinions helps a lot.. Being aware of our own experiences as a teen will help us in being open with your own teen children.

Talking to them them about what you have been through while you were a teenager and telling them your experiences brings them closer to you and they are sure to open out. . I remember my own years as a teenager when I felt that I was misunderstood most of the time and struggling to find my own identity and place in my peer group, while at the same time trying to maintain parental expectations. Being aware of our own experiences as a teen will help us in being open with your own teen children. Talking to them them about what you’ve been through while you were a teenager and telling them your experiences brings them closer to you and they are sure to open out. Most teenagers I know are happy to talk and share if they believed that their parents or teachers were really going to listen to what they have to say.

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A few important points to bear in mind while dealing with teenagers

1, Rules are for meant for discipline and forming a routine , however they can be discussed when the teenagers are not happy or want to know the reasons. The message you give out is that as parents you are willing to be flexible and they matter more to you than simply following rules which they are not happy with.

2, Asking and consulting your teenagers while making decisions for the family is essential. i have seen many households where the youngsters dont know what is happening including holiday plans that their parents are making and when they are told at the last minute understandably the youngsters are annoyed and refuse to accompany their parents which leads to a rift. We need to give them the feeling that they are required as active members of the family.

3, Know their strengths and weaknesses and spend time with them to understand the situations in which they do their best and motivate them to perform better in other situations. However, dont criticise or ridicule them when they fail to come upto your expectations because they are still far too young to be serious about achievements and goal setting.

4, Other than monitoring and knowing about them, let them have their own friends. You as a parent take time and effort to get to know their friends and create safe places for them to hang out and have fun. Don’t stop them from being at home , on the terrace or in your teenagers room which is far better than being elsewhere. This  shows that they are relaxed with the  home atmosphere and have confidence in you .

Teenage comes once in a life time and it is a learning experience for both parents and the youngsters. As parents it is within our limits to make it easier for our teenagers to cope with this stressful period in life and become stronger emotionally. All that is required is understanding and good level of communication.


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