The Healthy Way To Manage Your Teenage Child
Ask the parents of any teenager and they are likely to nod their heads in agreement and tell you that is exactly what it feels like to be the mother or father of a young person.
Teenage-hood is often a testing time for both child and parent. For the child, it is a time of discoveries, making decisions for the first time and trying to figure out what the future may hold.
For the parent, it can be a period of putting up with your child’s constantly changing behavior, angst and sometimes detached moods, hoping that he or she makes the right decisions that will carry them through into being responsible adults.
It is a constant battle for both parent and child to see things eye-to-eye. Your teenager may complain that you will never understand what is happening, while you wonder what there is to understand when he or she is always locked up in the room, with a ‘Keep Out’ sign displayed on the door.
Before you barge down that door and demand to know what is going on, you must remember this: your teenager is simply going through the nuances of adolescent life. It may seem like a long time ago, but you were once a teenager as well. And if you put yourself in that position, understanding what your teenager is going through may become something you can relate to.
The Challenges Of Youth
There are many challenges confronting youths today – peer pressure, finding a place or a group to fit in with, trying to figure out what the future may hold, dealing with issues such as sexuality, drugs, alcohol and more.
Because of the many influences impacting on their lives – family, friends, peer groups, the media and society – teenagers may find themselves in a state of constant confusion, while trying to decide what it right and what is wrong.
Caught between childhood and adulthood, an individual’s adolescent years are a time for self-discovery. However, without proper guidance or exposure, the teenager may find himself or herself making the wrong decisions.
Trying to understand the different challenges your teenager is going through is the first step to a healthy parent-child relationship. Once this is achieved, your child will trust you and be comfortable enough to come to you with any problems without feeling like he or she is being judged.
Talk to your child as an adult, instead of being quick to cast blame or ridicule. That way, your teenager will not feel undermined and will be more confident in making the right decisions.
One of the main challenges confronting a teenager is peer pressure. Teenagers often find themselves in a situation where they feel pressured to do things they may not want to do. But because of their eagerness, and need, to belong, they may succumb to the pressure and do things that are sometimes totally out of character.
Peer pressure comes in many forms. Some may seem innocent enough – like styling their hair in a certain manner – while others may fringe on more serious moral issues, such as lying to parents or trying out drugs.
Why would your child give in to peer pressure? The reason is simple – they want to be liked and they want to fit in. Some may do it because they are worried about being teased if they don’t, while others are simply curious to try something new. Knowing that “everyone is doing it” will influence your child to try something new, even if it means going against his or her better judgment.
How do you talk to your teenager who is facing an enormous amount of pressure? Advise him or her to choose friends wisely. Choosing friends who don’t use drugs, skip class, smoke or shoplift will help your child steer away from unwanted activities. Teach your child to pick friends who exert healthy peer pressure, such as doing better in class and volunteering for charities. Also, be in tune with what is going on in your child’s life. That way, you can pick up immediately if something is amiss.
Dealing With Self Confidence
When growing up, an adolescent will go through many changes – experiencing growing pains, watching the body transform and being exposed to the different things that they never did as a care-free child. With so many things happening, it is easy to feel uncertain and a little lost.
Many teenagers suffer from a lack of self-confidence. This could result in being shy, but when taken to extremes, it could manifest itself in indulging in a showcase of attention-seeking behaviors such as eating disorders, inappropriate dressing, breaking social norms of behavior, even crime.
One way to help your teenager build self-confidence is to explain that everyone is different – and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is little that can be done to change physical appearance, but accepting this fact will often make a person feel happier about themselves.
Also, encourage a healthy lifestyle for your teen. Stock up your kitchen with healthy snacks and fruits. Introduce a healthy physical activity the entire family can enjoy. That way, you encourage your child to think positively and adopt habits and activities that are constructive.
Exploring Sex And Sexuality
The last thing your teenager will want to talk to you about is sex and sexuality, but it is also perhaps the biggest thing that he or she could be pondering.
Embracing adulthood means finding out about one’s sexuality. Growing up, a teenager will find his or her body going through different things. They will also start to hear about sex and will naturally be curious about the whole deal.
Not getting the right information and education can prove to be dangerous for teenagers when it comes to sex. Being uninformed can lead to many major problems – not respecting the body, STDs, teenage pregnancy and more. But because of the sensitivity surrounding the issue, teenagers are often shy to approach their parents for the proper information about sex.
The best way to deal with this issue? Be as open about sex as possible with your teenager. Treat him or her as an adult when the subject is raised. Skirting around the issue will only cause your child to want to find out more, leading to even more curiosity. Always be open and let your child know that he or she can come to you anytime a question of sex arises. After all, don’t you want your child to learn about sex from you instead of from friends or even pornographic materials?
Drugs And Alcohol
We often hear stories of teenagers who are heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. The endings of these stories are often ugly, but the truth is that it is something that is happening quite regularly among teenagers.
Being a teenager means experimenting. Whether it is a new fashion trend, new music or new activity, your teenager is constantly going to want to try new things. Because they are so readily available, you can be sure your teenager will come face-to-face some day with drugs and alcohol – and there will be friends who will pressure them to indulge. If the situation is not checked early, you and your teenager may end up with major problems.
One of the best ways to prevent this is to be constantly involved in your child’s life, but never to the point of being restrictive. Educate your child about the dangers of substance abuse and teach them to make informed decisions. Banning your child from doing any and everything will lead to her or him wanting to try it even more.
Leading A Healthy Lifestyle
It is common for parents to be frustrated at their teenager, who seems to do nothing but lie in bed, spend hours on the phone and Internet, going out until late at night or just hanging around shopping malls doing absolutely nothing at all. Being productive seems to be an activity that does not exist in a teenager’s routine.
Many parents worry about their children’s sedentary lifestyle, but nagging them about it is not going to help. Try a different approach instead: tempt your child into activities that may excite him or her. If your child loves reading, plan monthly trips to the bookstore to pick out reading materials. You can also sign up your teen for workshops and courses – drama, speech, language, music, etc. Not only will you help fill their time constructively, it is also a great way to meet new people, pick up new skills and build character.
The best thing to do when trying to understand your teenager is to appreciate that he or she is simply going through a time in life when exploring and trying out different things is the norm.
While you cannot stop being a parent, you can try to be one who is supportive and, most importantly, a friend to your teenager.