By the time your kid turns into a teen, you would have realised that raising a child is a hard slog. You’ve lived through the 3am feeding and diaper changes, the lack of sleep, the occasional toddler tantrums and the usual back-to-school blues.
Now, there is a new challenge to face ― when junior transitions from childhood to adolescence, which is a big turning point in your mini-me’s life socially, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, explains that the teenage years can be trying as it may be difficult for parents to gauge the maturity and responsibility of a teen who wants more freedom and privacy.
So, what’s the big hoo-ha about dealing with teenagers? Well, they are entering puberty, which is when external influences become stronger and start to sway their decision-making process. So, this is the stage when parents will start worrying whether their child would “turn bad”. So, parents can observe these guidelines to build a better bond with junior, so as to lessen their chances of going astray:
1. Respect your teen
Avoid embarrassing him in front of others or threatening and blackmailing him. An example would be saying “If you don’t listen to me, I will cut your allowance!” Do not compare your child with others as this will indirectly hurt your child’s self-esteem, too. Note, too, that just like no two individuals are the same, each and every child is unique as he or she is born with different talents, strengths and interests.
Respecting your kid allows your child to be comfortable in his own skin, so that he will be less reluctant to share what is on his mind. As he is transitioning to adulthood and may demand more freedom, independence and privacy. In our culture, not only are parents controlling, they are also afraid of embarrassing themselves, which leads to a lack of communication between them and their kids. Everyone at home should have a fair chance to talk, ask, listen, and be treated equally. Just because your teen isn’t an adult yet, doesn’t mean he cannot express his views. Listening to your teen will make him feel important, and let him know that you take his concerns seriously. This will help you strengthen your relationship with your teen.
“Setting rules allows your teens to flourish.”
2. Set rules and consequences
Make sure that the rules are clearly communicated to your teen, but at the same time, leave enough room such that you can offer more freedom if he shows that he is responsible. You can impose restrictions later if he proves to be less mature, says Dr Lim.
When you set boundaries, you’re preparing him for the real world. He will learn to understand what's expected of him, and what consequences he will face if he does not comply.
Rules can also help reassure your rebellious teen, who want to know that they are able to count on their parents. However, you should also refrain from being too strict towards your teen, so make sure the rules you set are achievable and within your child’s limit.
3. Show care and concern
During the teenage years, your teen will tend to be a little distant from you, as he is trying to become more independent.
Dr Lim adds that there will be times when your teen is cold to you, and would like to be left alone. However, it is still important for you to continue to show him your love and support.
Having weekly family time to do things together such as watching movies, jogging, or enjoying a picnic will also allow your teen to feel a sense of family warmth. Try to have regular meals as a family as it is a time for the whole family to get together, chat and just bond.
“As a parent, our feelings are what guides the way in which we teach and educate our children.”
4. Be a good role model
As kids become more cognitively advanced, they will be able to notice discrepancies if parents do not walk the talk. “The best way to show a teen how to behave is by being a good example,” explains Dr Lim.
You should strive to be a good role model for your child, even when he is still young, and be conscious about whatever you say or do. Your mini-me will watch and mimic that behaviour without you even knowing. Actions are always stronger than words, and will be emulated by your impressionable kid.
“Parenting by example” is how mothers and fathers can show their child the way. Many of the important ways you can be a role model are through things you already do every day, such as respecting others, controlling your anger and communicating patiently with others.
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