Difficult teenager? Let’s call them teenagers facing difficult times. Teenagers (13 to 19 years of age) find it difficult to cope up with changes happening mentally, physically and in their surroundings due to puberty, hormonal changes, social pressures, and confusions with a variety of career choices and stress for achieving their goals, etc. Especially, the absence of parents or any parent is expected to cause more pressures and unfavourable conditions to teenagers.
There are multiple issues faced by teenagers today. However, parents who spend time with their children, have faith in them and are friendly help these children cope up and evolve beautifully when they grow!
Ms Abhrekha Jain Sahlot highlights the following keys to deal with ‘difficult’ teenagers-(Also read- Worklife balance tips for working mothers by Abhrekha Jain Sahlot
Here’s how to deal with a difficult teenager:
Spend Quality Time:
Reflection cannot be seen in boiling water. Water needs to be still and calm. Same applies to us in problem situations and with difficult people. Teenagers often will provoke you to lose calm and will irritate you with their tantrums due to the above-mentioned causes.
Try to be calm and listen to them. Communicate constructively. Teenage is a fundamental stage of life that each one of us passes through. Some face this period strongly and positively, while others face many problems and difficulties. As a parent, you need to keep calm and show your anger only when needed for it to be impactful otherwise children are no less than rebellions at this age and will continue not to listen to you.
Define clear and crisp Limits:
Teenagers would want to experience more adventure in their lives. They might be overconfident and would want to overachieve. In these situations, it’s very important to talk amicably and settle down on limits defined clearly and specifically. There has been some ground rules and basics which should not be violated and calls for punishment if not adhered to.
As a parent, make sure those basic ground rules are reasonable and fair. For example, one rule which my mother had set up for me in my growing years was to come home from the playground before it used to get dark. Since I was given freedom in whatever I did, I never broke their faith in me and used to feel happy to come home on time and ensure my safety. Please note, having faith in your child is very important and sometimes to favour them and not favour, what’s ideally right should also be done.
There is a thin line between assertion, aggression, and arrogance. Parents should highlight if children are doing something wrong but need to be little diplomatic to avoid resistance from teenagers.
At any point in time, parents should not be too harsh and unreasonable with children and break their confidence. They need to be motivating and continue having faith in children. Learn the art of overlooking certain things, do not give an immediate reaction or panic. Talk to your teenager often. They might not say it but they need you to talk to them.
Channelize their energies:
Teenagers should certainly be associated with some outdoor sports activity or some hobby. Creative satisfaction and physical engagement will help their anger or frustration outlet (if any). Also, it shall help them to release any stress or any social/physical pressures. Alternatively, parents can also get associated with some hobby and de-stress through art forms, meditation, etc. After all, it’s not easy to stay calm with growing teens’.
Teenagers should be made aware of damage caused by excessive screen time, not only eyes but it impacts concentration and increases restlessness. Screen hours needs to be restricted and should not exceed more than 2 hours a day. Try to keep them away from mobiles during the night to assure a peaceful sleep. Don’t splurge while buying them a mobile phone. They can buy an expensive one when they start earning.
Dealing with unhealthy food habits:
A healthy body has a healthy mind. Sometimes when children do not eat a balanced diet or nourishing food, they often are in an agitated and irritated state. They don’t realize that they are lacking stamina or feeling fatigue as the body is not having enough nutrition.
It is the responsibility of the parent to limit the intake of junk food. They should be taught the value of home-cooked food and mothers play a special role here to try new healthy recipes and keep children motivated to eat home-cooked food. For example, my son also runs away from vegetables, but I try to make pav-bhaji or sambhar and put as many as vegetables.
It becomes utmost important for parents to know the company of their children as it impacts their code of conduct, thoughts, and aspirations. We need to be watchful that our children are not getting bullied as that will shake their confidence and will eventually make them frustrated. At the same time, we should check if our child is treating his friends with respect and not using foul or loose language even in scenarios he feels cheated and unfair. Children need to be taught anger management and some counselling on how to deal with life when it seems unfair. I often give example to my child that, even if we are vegetarian and have not harmed any animal in our life, but if one day we will have to face LION, he would pounce on us. And will not see how kind we were, that is life and one need to be prepared even if life seems to be unfair.
Stubborn and Arrogant Teenagers:
As mentioned earlier, teenagers undergo a lot of emotional and physical changes, which might make them irritable and land up in answering parents back. As a parent, do not threaten them, there is a difference between punishment and discipline. Do not push them beyond a limit. Let them take some healthy risks. Listen to them patiently and try to understand what is going in their mind. Are they disturbed? Are they hurt? Are they feeling lonely? Do they need some attention or recognition? Do they want something which other children have, and you cannot afford? (If yes, try to explain the value for money, offer choices). Do find opportunities to praise them and appreciate their gestures. Dig deeper, stay calm, be respectful.
Do not forget your times and aspirations:
We should not be forgetting our times and or aspirations and desperations in our growing years. Teens often want to express themselves by colouring their hair or straightening etc., getting multiple ears and nose piercing or tattoos all over their body or listening to music their parents hate. The best approach is to let it go. Hence, teens feel a sense of control over their bodies and their environments. And hopefully, they won’t feel the need to push the boundaries in more dangerous ways.
Let them take healthy risks, but in case it is not in your control and you sense some damage which they could either cause to themselves or to their friends or society, seek medical help immediately as sometimes children take doctors and medical health professionals more seriously than parents.
“Older kids … are going through a process of separating themselves from their parents, becoming their own people and shaping who they will be apart from us. In order to do that, they need a certain amount of autonomy, room to stretch, take risks, try things out, and grow. There’s research that reveals kids who are more controlled by their parents lie to their parents more. If we don’t give them that room, they will create it, even though deceit.”
—Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed
Phew!! It’s a difficult task to deal with a ‘difficult teenager’, but as parents, we cannot give up. We would want no regrets later. So try your best to remember your teenage days and stay calm when required. All the best.
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