In the last article, we talked about the ever evolving parent-child bond and how one can nurture the bond at grade schooler stage. As adolescence kicks in, their body changes and there is a new surge of independence. Raising a teenager is popularly perceived to be hell, but this stage of life can be conducted more smoothly if as a parent you follow some tips given below-
As homework becomes more intense and grades become critical, help set a regular distraction free homework and study schedule . Understand the class loads and make sure they are balanced and not piling on stress. Find ways to build organizational and time management skills. Help them use different learning techniques to understand new concepts better. A blended learning technique with a mix of technology and traditional ways will help them fare well in school. Watching educational videos , debating on news, travelling , helping younger siblings/ kids do their homework will enhance their learning and widen their world view.
Establish dependable together time
Make sure you connect with your kid everyday, it could be an evening walk or a cup of morning tea or making breakfast together. Insist that they spend some time interacting with the family before they talk on the phone to their friends or play a game on phone. As a parent be available when they want to talk, reduce distractions such as checking office email every 5 minutes. Routines like this will help them open up when they face issues and talk with you.
Communicate openly about the challenges you face and you will be surprised by mature solutions that they offer you. There are times when a teenager will be more sensitive and intuitive towards relationships and they can give sound advice. An open environment where they feel safe in discussing anything will reduce the chances of bad decisions on their part.
Be a friend
Teens crave the security of knowing their parents understand them, appreciate them, and love them no matter what--so they do want the relationship to be a form of friendship. But they also need to feel like they have some independence, so sometimes you may feel a bit left out. Offer your teen respect and consideration, that's what you'll receive in return. Sometimes you will have to pull rank and say No. Sometimes your teen will be looking for you to establish boundaries and limits that they can't set for themselves. There will be times when using your guidance your teen will come up with a win-win solution that allays your concerns.
Be the emotional and moral compass
Teens might act as if they are adults and can manage their lives, but deep down they crave parents guidance and approval in what they do. Be a sounding board, empathize, don't judge and keep advice to minimum. Peer pressure, bullying, friendships and stress of studies can take a toll on their mental health, so be a secure base where they can come back and relax and let their guard down.
Health and Wellness
Physical attractiveness is the most important to a teen and rather then dismissing that feeling, its crucial that we accept that and channelize their energy into taking care of their bodies. So, encourage more regular exercise programs during and after school, and support team sports, running, yoga, and swimming. Include them in cooking healthy meals and building a healthy relation with food. Establishing good habits will work wonders on their mind and body and they will feel confident and empowered. Another key aspect to boost their self esteem is to introduce them to self- compassion - teach them to treat themselves with kindness and acceptance and not strive for peer appreciation.
Build life skills
This is a perfect age to involve them in social and community service. Encourage them to volunteer, organize events like birthdays, anniversaries and do chores around the house. Involve them in household decisions , teach them financial basics - let them participate in managing household budget and if possible ,let them do part time jobs. This will help build social, interpersonal and critical thinking skills that will help them in future.
At any stage in life, shower them with love, affection, undivided attention and care. Try different cuisines with them, visit theme parks, play the latest video games , dance with them to latest pop songs, visit spas together or watch sporting events. A healthy parent child bond will lead to well adjusted, compassionate and happy teenagers.