Teenagers are termed (quite unfairly, in my opinion) as the most disturbed and erratic of the three age group segregations. Sadly, that is bound to be true, given that these years are also the most crucial in shaping our life. Our decisions now will continue to affect us all our lives. We are past the chilled-out sloppiness we enjoyed in our childhood, where every mistake could be easily brushed aside, and every problem had the simplest of solutions. We’re not quite adults, where we wear our mistakes like a second skin, but still, have the steely nerve to continue on the path of life. The added pressure messes with our minds. We are on the crazy path of self-discovery that turns hither-tither as it pleases. In this stage of life, we need parents who understand, support, and guide us, and let us be who we really are. Listed below are a few positive parenting tips from a teenage perspective:
1. Communication Bridges the Gap
Studies show that the majority of the interactions between parents and their children wholly consist of criticisms and tellings-off. I feel this is a contrary approach. Parents think it to be their moral duty to reprimand their children for bringing them on ‘the right path’. Honestly, constant cribbing or nagging serves to do the exact opposite. Teens try to avoid conversations, the simple explanation being, no one likes to get scolded. Instead, try to bridge the vast generation gap by putting on your teen’s shoes (not literally, that would be an invasion of privacy, see point 2). Think of how you felt in that age, how your parents treated you then, and what you thought about your parents. It’s essential to tune into your teen’s mind and take a peek at the giant whirlwind of emotions that continually disrupts their peace. Try to encourage dinner table talks, ask about their day at school, how they’re coping emotionally, or what made them laugh today. Although initially, they might not be very responsive or may brush away your questions, show them that you can be trusted and relied on not to pass any judgments.
2. Respect the Privacy
Everyone needs their own space to thrive. You and I, both value some alone time. While I said communication is key, learn how to give them the space they deserve. Let them open up to you at their own pace. Pushing them for answers will make them more distant and irritable, which is obviously not your aim. Trust your child to be honest and well-disciplined. Teens keep things to themselves because they feel others might not approve or agree with their views. It is understandable to feel this way in this challenging phase, so let them come to you with their problems, rather than the other way round. Letting them decide who to go to for help gives them a sense of independence, making them feel like they have their life together. Give them the tad bit of luxury of making their own decisions.
3. Keep an Open Mind
Keep an open mind – This is a significant point. Please remember, times have changed. Things are not like they used to be in the ’80s. Tell your child it is okay to have a crush. It is okay to like boys or girls, whatsoever they prefer. Let them have enough faith in you to tell you about their personal lives. Tell them that they can talk to you about anything, without the constant fear of being disapproved of. Tell them about similar experiences you had in their age. A personal example of this: my mother had always encouraged me to talk to her freely, and so when I started having slight romantic feelings towards a certain someone for the very first time, she was the first one to know. That is, indeed, positive parenting in the flesh and one of the most effective positive parenting tips.
4. Technology is Today’s Trend
Again, times have changed. Most of their studies have moved to an online forum. Emails, text messages, and posts are more comfortable to communicate with. Do not deny them this communication. Limit phone and television usage to 2-3 hours, but don’t pester them every time they pick up their phones. It is their chosen form of entertainment. However, keep in mind that the internet is a dark place. A strong effort should be made to educate them on the correct usage of the privilege they get in abundance.
5. Learn When to be Strict
Too much freedom can show negative results, as well. With the intention of giving them their privacy, do not ignore the fact that they are, after all, still teens. They are bound to make mistakes. The new age trend of being your child’s ‘best friend’ is taking away the much needed parental figure in their lives. Keep track of where they go, how they go, and who they hang out with. Know when to stop and tell them they are in the wrong company, or what they’re doing is wrong. Sit them down and decide ground rules together. Keep a fixed time by which they are to be home. Talk to them about the ill-effects of alcohol, smoking, or drugs. Teach them how to resist peer pressure. Talk to them about the permanence of tattoos or piercings. Ask them if they think it is wise to decide to draw something on their skin that will leave a permanent mark at such a young age. Tell them when it is okay to date and when not. Remind them that this is not an invasion of their privacy, but only a means to keep them out of harm’s way.
Parenting is a difficult job, and there are no set rules on what is right and what is wrong, but you can sort it out with positive parenting tips. The best way to go about is to develop an understanding with your child. No child is the same. Every teenager thinks differently and is unique in her outlook on life. Try to understand what will best work with your child’s personality and take it from there. The bottom line of it all is to take care of each other’s emotional states. Ensuring that neither the parent nor the child hurts each other will automatically give rise to a happy parent and a happy child, which is everything that positive parenting aims at.