Have you ever felt that ‘time flies’ and your kids are older than you feel they are? Before you knew it your infant started toddling around, finished kindergarten and primary school and is now a rebellious teen. Suddenly all the love and affection that you had been showering that they loved, seems like interference and over indulgence to them. They begin to hate you and keep complaining of the ‘generation gap’. Everything you do seems wrong to them and they do not want to listen to anything you have to say. Have you ever felt that you just don’t know how to handle them anymore? Here are a few tips to help you out.
We are so used to talking and lecturing as to what we believe is right and better for them that we never notice or make time to listen to them or their point of view. Teenagers have over the years developed a mind of their own. Their set of limited experiences has taught them quite a few things too. They believe they know what’s good for them. Make time to hear out their point of view. If you feel the need to change it, first empathize with it, win your child’s confidence and then suggest a change. Half your battle is won the moment you stop correcting and imposing instead start listening and suggesting.
2. Let them make mistakes.
As parents we always want to protect our children and make sure nothing hurts them. However, teenage is an age where children want to experiment and learn. Overprotecting them frustrates them. So does this mean we just watch them do what they want? Definitely not. We need to warn them about all potential dangers of the experiment and encourage them to make an informed choice rather than follow an order. They will commit more to their choice than your order.
3. Give them responsibility.
Make them feel like an adult in charge of certain things in the family and their life. For example, make them in charge of their finances by giving a fixed pocket money for the month. Do not indulge them over and above that amount so that they learn to value money and budget.
Teenagers need their freedom and space to grow. You cannot keep controlling their timings and activities. It is important to let them to feel in charge. However you can set the limits with their consent. For example you want them home at 10pm from a party and they want to stay till 11pm, suggest a 9pm deadline and they will be happy with 10pm. That way they feel they got their way and stick to the deadline with a smile rather than a sulk and fight.
Teenagers are vulnerable and parents get paranoid. The more you doubt them, their friends, their activities the more they tend to lie to you. This obviously makes you trust them less and makes them distance themselves from you more. Have faith in them and their judgment. Give your opinions about their friends, activities etc as suggestions rather than doubts.
6. Do not criticize.
None of us like being criticized and teenage is a time when we are a lot more sensitive. It is very important as parents that we are supportive and encouraging in these years rather than critical and corrective. Focus on what your child has done well and either ignore or casually suggest ways of improving whatever they have not done well.
7. Be open to learn.
We as parents don’t always know best. Our teenagers have a lot to teach us if we are willing and open to learn. Accept your mistakes and give them their due credit. You will become best friends and relationships will become very smooth and easy.
Teenage is a time when children want to discover themselves. It is a time when they develop their individuality and identity. It is important for us as parents to understand and respect this. We need to give them the space to learn by their experience and mistakes and yet gently guide them with our experience and knowledge.