In this mad world, how can we support our teenager and ensure that they have a reasonably fun filled teenage while emerging successful in their academics. When you teenager comes home and tells you he/she had a bad day – don’t ignore it. They many say they don’t want to talk about it but will open up gradually if they sense that they have a concerned parent who will listen without judgment. Steal opportunities to be with them on a walk or a meal. Most parents are stumped as to how they need to face the revelations that a teen can foist on them they avoid the situation. It’s not rocket science. It just takes a few carefully cultivated habits. So what do you need to do when you know that your teen offloads on you? Read on
- Don’t ask too many questions:
There are parents who start an inquisition and ask too many questions. Your teen should not feel like they are being targeted. Don’t imply that whatever happened was your teen’s fault. The analysis can happen later and is best left to the teen. This is the time when you have to use your ears more than your mouth piece. The questions which must be asked are “what happened”, How do you feel? Or similar empathetic ones. Not whose mistake was it? What did you do wrong – never accusatory
- Don’t sermonise:
This is not a time to say how bad the world is, you don’t know how such things can happen or you should have done this or that. This is the touchiest time and advices can just shut your teen up like nothing else. The teen will just take off to his/her room with a “you don’t understand”” and the moment is lost for ever.
- No “ in my day stories”:
Some parents love to bring out a story about how they dealt with such a situation or how such things never happened in the “good old days”. Or they want to tell their teen how smart they were and inadvertently make what should be the teen’s moment, theirs. You role is that of a listener – a non-judgmental one at that. Remember what worked in our times does not work anymore today. The situations are different, the people are different and the stresses are different.
- Don’t try to sort out the situation:
Many helicopter parents either march to the school to sort the teacher out or complain about the classmate/friend who is troubling their child. Please understand this works well and your child wants it until they are about 12. Once they hit teenage they are embarrassed by their parents taking up on behalf of them. They prefer to sort out issues themselves and as parents. Besides it is the parent’s responsibility at this stage to ensure that your teen develops the problem solving capabilities by dealing with the issue themselves
- Don’t compare:
Another tendency is for parents to say but your sister or brother was not like this. Or why isn’t the neighbour’s son having the same issue. You really do not know what is going on with the neighbour’s child. Comparisons are hurtful and judgemental. You have already made up your mind that your child is not handling the situation well.
Many parents think that they will be there for their child all the time, and that they will help them sort out all the problems in life. Teaching your child how to face problems and challenges in their lives, is possibly the biggest responsibility a parent has at this stage. Developing problem solving skills increases the child’s independence and confidence getting him/her ready to deal with the adult world. By stepping in they are only undermining these traits. Unfortunately very few parent realize this