Managing young people who are going through the process of adolescence can be a bit worrisome for parents. Such parents need to remember that they want your love, support, encouragement, acceptance, attention, and nurture the most. When your children are small, they want you to help make important decisions and lead the way. When they turn into teenagers, they want you to offer helpful attention and walk alongside them. They might feel smothered if you keep offering them protective attention.
As a parent, you should know that many skills support children to learn how to manage themselves, form judgment, and develop skills smartly. When dealing with teenagers, parents must use the same skills used when the children were younger but at a greater remove. Some of these skills include but are not limited to letting children learn from their mistakes and encouraging and enabling them rather than showing them how it’s done. You, as a parent, should know that children might find a different way of doing things, and you should respect their choices. Follow your child’s lead instead of jumping in with your ideas, be in the present and spend time with them to ensure you stay focused.
Besides the basic requirements of food, clothing, shelter, warmth, and healthcare, we all need to feel safe and protected. One of the points of conflict between the parents and teenagers can be the wishes of the parents to fulfill these needs and the apparent desire of teenagers to frustrate from it or be unrealistic about the same.
Teenagers will often defy the attempts of the parents to keep them safe by being more rebellious. They indulge in activities like staying out later than parents allow, keeping bad company, and taking risks while using the internet. They might also diffuse your attempts to keep them healthy by demanding junk foods and refusing to eat the healthy foods you offer them. They might also refuse to dress the way you want them to and might refuse essential checkups like vision, dental, and other health checks.
It is your responsibility as a parent to understand that teenagers will become contrary, and you need to continue caring for them. You need to have a talk about these issues and share your concern. After speaking your mind, parents should also hear and accept teenagers’ point of view to ensure a compromise is reached.
Teenagers want your love, care, respect, and attention as much as they did when they were children. They still need to be noticed by you. Though they can be moody or withdraw into themselves for a while, they don’t like being ignored by their parents. Every parent must remember there is a fine line between ignoring bad behavior and ignoring everything a teenager does. The latter can make the teenager feel that the parents don’t care. It’s something you should never let the teenager think.
What Teenagers Want and Expect
Quality Time with Family
Though most teenagers like to be their mobile, computer and talking with their friends most of the time, they would also like to communicate with their parents and spending quality time with their family. They like small gestures like having a meal with their family, watching a film with the family, going out with family, and even the Sunday brunches.
Many families have stopped eating together due to the fast pace of life. It’s something we should all work towards fixing. Teenagers and children need an hour with family at least so that they can feel connected.
If you are too pressed for time, you can choose to make meals that can be cooked quickly or offer dishes that can be done individually. Spending quality time with family will allow everyone, especially the teenager, to feel appreciated and valued.
A Mix of Stimulation and Relaxation
Teenagers need to multitask more than ever. The added pressure of academic performance, after-school activities, and the need to stay connected with friends and peers means that a teenager is always busy. As a parent, you must have also seen your teen multitasking by chatting with friends while working on a school project while there’s TV running in the background. If so, you might realize that your teenager might be as busy as you are or even more than you are.
Teenagers also need to stay active to stay healthy. As kids, they run around all day and indulge in some sport. It’s essential for teenagers to be active to keep up the physical activities when they turn adults and stay healthy. If your teen is not going out much or not doing enough physical exercise, you can sign them up for swimming lessons, gym membership, cycling, or other such activities. You can also join the teen and spend some quality time with them.
Give Them the Right Choices and Responsibility
Teenagers often think that they can handle their life and make decisions for themselves. Some parents might be tempted to give in and let a teen do whatever they want, be it leaving the school early or staying out late. This isn’t the right approach. Similarly, you can’t make every decision on your teenagers’ behalf and control their lives.
As a parent, you need to give your teen the right choices and responsibilities in line with their age. You need to help your teen slowly learn the art of decision-making and slowly assuming control. Giving too much control to your teenager suddenly might not be a good option, and neither would be taking control of their lives. Most teenagers act irresponsibly or even foolishly if they think they are denied control over their lives. You wouldn’t want that, would you?
The right choice here is to work with your teenager to figure out what responsibilities they can take and increase the responsibilities once the teen rises to the challenge.
Offer the Attention They Crave
As mentioned earlier, teenagers might make you feel like they don’t need your attention, but they do. They don’t need your attention the same as they did when they were kids, but they require helpful attention. Giving them helpful attention will mean that you will develop a close bond with your teen while helping build their self-confidence and self-esteem. Helpful attention would let your teen know that you care, and they matter.
Helpful attention has many aspects. One is to be interested in who the teen is and what they are doing. The second is being a good listener and just listening to them when they talk, even if it’s inconvenient for the parent. Another aspect is to let the teen take charge rather than the parent being in control all the time.
A key element in offering helpful attention is to enjoy your teen. It might seem difficult in scenarios like your teen is always arguing with you or your teen isn’t updating you on what’s going on with their lives. As a parent, you need to have patience. If you don’t enjoy the teen, they might think you want to control and criticize you.
One trick that can help parents when the teen is negative (like showing disregard or argumentative) is switching on the positive mode. Think of things you like about the teen, take an interest in their lives, and remember that they are not kids nor adults. They are in a crucial phase of their life that won’t come again. If you want to know your teen better, don’t interrogate or quiz them. Just ask open questions about their likes, dislikes, interests, and enthusiasms while trying to accept them without judgment.
Respect Their Choices
Adolescence is a key time in a person’s life as they have to make several important decisions regarding their career, academic path, and even a job. They also have to decide how to appear, who to choose as their friends, who to be loyal to, and who to identify with.
In such situations, parents might become concerned that a teenager is making decisions based on insignificant things like choosing to do a job just because their best mate has decided to do so rather than continuing their studies.
Adolescence is a painful time in parents’ lives as they realize that their children might not need them as much as they did. Some teens can even be quite rude about it. Teens might also start giving more importance to others than their parents and might choose to make choices that are the opposite of what their parents chose.
Parents might feel that they are in opposition with their teenager not because the teenager made a different choice but because the choice was made by someone who is no longer a child, or the choice was made without asking parents’ opinion.
If you think your teen is making a choice that’s short-sighted or wrong, like a promising student giving up on studies, you need to sit down with your teenager, explain your thoughts and invite them to share their thoughts as well. Try to have a frank talk respectfully and reach a compromise that you both can accept. Be open-minded and accept that your teenager might have a point of view that can matter.
In essence, a teenager requires quality time with their loved ones, a mix of stimulation and relaxation, choices and responsibilities that suit their age, helpful attention and for you to respect their choices. Be their friend and confidant rather than being their boss, and you’ll form a stronger bond with your teenager. Good Luck!