Do you remember not that long ago, when you were a teenager? Now, many of us are faced with raising our own children who are quickly becoming teens. If you remember what it was like for you, then you may have a better understanding of how to deal with teenagers.
Performing a quick online search for “teenagers” is enough to get a glimpse of the discipline issues that parents face. You get terms like “rebellious, lying, terrible, difficult” etc. But why must it be so? What is the underlying issue that makes dealing with teenagers seemingly so unbearable?
Ideally, parenting should start long before your child becomes a teen. Unfortunately many parents are caught off guard by the time their child becomes a teenager with their unique views and attitudes toward the world. But by now, the parents are already at a disadvantage.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to raising teenagers. It also seems that behavioralists place teenagers in a separate category, away from the rest of us. Rather than raising teenagers, I want to emphasise raising human beings. The following are the main points for raising good, well balanced humans. The sooner these points are implemented in their lives, the better.
Practice unconditional love for your teenagers. Start early, by the time your kids are teenagers, they should firmly know that they are loved. Being loved, does not mean overlooking their mistakes. There is a difference between right and wrong. But love is an essential foundation that continues to support your teens into adulthood and beyond.
To help your teenagers develop secure, well balanced personality, offer them praise. You can not go wrong by praising your teens for making the right decisions. You will help them build self esteem and stability. Love and praise will also teach them how to properly treat other people in their life.
This is another big one. Never make your teen feel that they can not come to you for advice, or to just vent out. Rest assured, the modern teenagers already understand much of how the world works. Don’t be afraid to touch on sensitive subjects with them. They will appreciate your openness and honesty.
Your job as a parent, is to guide them until the point when they are emotionally mature to make the right decisions on their own. They should be able to safely practice making these decisions under your guidance. The potential outcome and repercussion of those decisions should be communicated to them in a constructive, non threatening manner.
I never practice “just because” answers. When my son who is practically a teenager asks me why I want him to do, or not to do a certain thing, I make it a point to explain to him the logic behind my reasoning. Instead of forcing him do something, I allow him to make his own decision based on the possible outcomes. When he arrives at the right answer, he understands the underlying logic.
Did you know that kids who are exposed to religion and spirituality at an early age, are statistically less likely to get into trouble in later years? They do better at school and grow into better adjusted teens and adults. Spirituality offers much needed stability during difficult times in life.
On the other hand, spiritually deprived individuals tend to develop addictions as a coping mechanism. Introduce your children and teens to some form of either formal or informal spiritual practice. Discuss spirituality with them. Explain to them, how it may benefit them in their adulthood.
Don’t forget that your teen is watching and learning from your every move. Lead by example. Personally show your teens the right from wrong. You can not expect the teenager to take your advice, while they see that it’s not who you are in action. Make an effort to do as you teach. Your credibility will the teen will skyrocket by doing this.
I was at a parenting seminar a long time ago. I remember at the seminar each parent was given a token. The token represented a unit of emotional deposit for the child’s emotional fund. The seminar spokesman said that our job as parents was to generate as much of emotional deposit into our children’s emotional fund as possible. They will draw from it for the rest of their life. Best parenting advice I ever got!
Live well. Vlad