The teenage years are some of the most turbulent times in a person’s life. It is equally turbulent for the teenagers as well as the parents of these teenagers! Just as it is for their children, this is a confusing time for parents as well; things that were working so far no longer seem to work. Suggestions that were welcomed before are now seen as intrusions. If parents try to help their children, chances are this help is interpreted as criticism or taunts.
So, what can parents do during such a time? How can they show their support in a way that is actually helpful for their teenagers? This article intends to look at some tips and tricks that parents can utilize in their interactions with their children.
· Empathizing with them – understanding their perspective; realizing that the challenges teenagers face today (peer pressure in real life and in social media, bullying, academic pressures) are very different from what we have faced when we were the same age as them. Rather than saying something like, “when we were young, we did/didn’t do...”, putting forth an empathetic statement, such as, ‘‘it must be quite difficult for you to face these challenges. As we never faced similar difficulties, help me understand your perspective and tell me how I can help you”.
· Communication is key – realizing that support need not be shown only through verbal means, it can also be shown through our non-verbal communication. The simple act of nodding our head, our facial expressions, our gestures and even being physically present with them could go a long way. Sometimes, children just want their parents to act as their sounding board, or to simply act as a calming presence. This might give them the encouragement they need to deal with their concerns on their own.
· Trusting their judgment – adolescence is a time when one’s social sphere increases to great extent. Parents are no longer the only source of support for them. Socializing with peers and friends becomes increasingly important. If parents accept this, and realize that friends are becoming a crucial part of their child’s life, chances are that the level of disagreements and conflicts between a parent and a teenager could reduce to a certain extent. As these children are on the verge of becoming adults themselves, giving them the opportunity to take chances, and follow their instincts can help develop their overall personality.
Now that we have this information, it could act as a starting point for parents to move from being an adversary to an ally for their teenagers. Remember, it is important for them to know that you have their back, in good times as well as in bad times.