Adolescence: Coping with teenagers

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The word Adolescence is derived from the Latin word adolescere, which means to grow up. This is a phase where teenagers experience physical and psychological changes. Adolescence can be a tough time for both parents and teenagers as they can find adolescence as a period of change and confusion. Though these years can be difficult for both sides, yet there is a lot that parents can do to nurture their teens and encourage them to behave responsibly. Here are some parenting skills that would work well if you have difficulty raising your stubborn teen.

Demonstrate your love: What your teen needs is a load of positive attention, so give them as much as you can of this. Spend valuable time with him or her and convey that you care a lot for him or her. When your teen speaks to you, listen to them. By doing so, you are respecting their feelings and letting them know that they are important to you. Do you get the feeling that your teen wants to bond with you? Well, why not bond with them?

Dine together, snack together, or just go out somewhere. While this may be easy for you to do, you still need to draw that fine line between love and discipline. Don’t overlook discipline just because your teen is getting close to you. If you don’t like anything your teen says or does, point it out without being critical. That way, they will want to cut that out of their behavior rather than revolt.

Don’t set very high expectations: Teenage years are a time of rebellion and trying to be assertive. So, don’t scare them by setting too high standards for them to live by. Instead, set reasonable and easily achievable goals that will help bring you closer to them. These could be expecting them to be considerate, honest, kind and generous, rather than getting all A’s in all their subjects.

Even in day-to-day tasks, it would help a lot if you gave them small and easy tasks which would build their confidence and prepare them for further challenges.  As you watch your teen doing slightly more difficult tasks, support them along the way so that they too can judge their capabilities. If they fail, be supportive of them and encourage them to try once more. Remember this is a time when you have to look for the good in everything they do, so praise all their efforts.

Don’t control, discipline: Teach your teen to behave in a responsible manner. Don’t control or punish them excessively. Discuss what acceptable behaviour is according to you, both at home or socially. If they step out of line, let them know the consequences of it so that they are prepared for them. However, be sure not to set ultimatums or they will revolt. Also, be clear in your intentions and explain the need for them to obey your rules. When your teen realizes that what you do and say is for their safety, they will tend to do as you ask. And lastly, don’t talk down to them and don’t put them down in front of others.

Be flexible: On the one hand, it helps to enforce rules you have made or your teen won’t take you seriously. On the other, it helps if once in a way, you bend your own rules and be a little flexible, particularly if you need to postpone their bedtime. This will help your teen see you not as a hard taskmaster but someone who can see their needs and priorities. Once again, their safety should be the key parameter for you.

Lead by example:  When teens watch their parents, they learn a lot. So, be sure to show them how to be resilient, cope with stress and be honest. If you’re a good role model, they will be exceptional students.

If you have an angry teen: Teenagers usually go through an emotional roller coaster during this time. Most of them also have anger issues.  This is chiefly because, through their anger, they hide other emotions like sadness, shame, fear, frustration, hurt or vulnerability. Since they can’t cope with these emotions, they get angry. In such situations, parents can help their teens cope with their feelings in these ways:

  • Set limits, rules and consequences: After your teen’s outburst when peace returns to your home, it’s time you explain to them that their angry outburst isn’t wrong at all. Let them know that if they are angry again, they will have to face dire consequences. At this stage of their lives, they need to be reined in by boundaries and rules. So, be firm, not harsh.
  • Understand the need for their outburst: Ask yourself if their anger is due to depression, frustration or sadness? Do they feel short-changed because their peers have things that they don’t have? Does your teen just need a patient ear, one that’s not judgmental?
  • Keep a watch for anger triggers and warning signs: Does your teen gored in the face before they explodes? Or are there any other specific triggers that you have noticed? Let your teen know the triggers to their anger so that they can take corrective steps to defuse it before it’s out of control.

Conclusion

Perhaps, this is the most trying period in a child’s life is that of becoming a teenager. It can be a very confusing or amazing phase, based on how parents are able to partner and support their kids through this phase. With a lot of patience, understanding, and maturity, parents can get over this sensitive phase in their teen’s life and watch them enter adulthood with ease and confidence.

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