Adolescence is a transition phase when a child metamorphoses into an adult. The physical and mental changes occurring during these years are complex and confusing both for teenagers and their parents. The age group between 12 to 19 years is considered Adolescence. The variability of growth amongst teens and perplexity of mental changes poses great challenges to teens and their parents. Lets look at some of the common issues raised by parents.
1. My child is weakest/shortest among his/her peer group: During adolescence a teenager gains a lot of weight and height attaining almost 90% of his/her adult weight and height. These changes do not follow a regular pattern for all. Teenagers grow at different pace at different stages and hence cannot be compared. While boys keep gaining height till 18 (may be 20), girls usually do not gain height after 16 (may be 18). Various factors affect growth of a teen like heredity, constitution, parental, height, nutrition and physical activity. So do not compare your teens and guide them about balanced diet and physical activity..
2. My teen is badly influenced by his/her peers: Teenagers find a common ground with their peers. The problems, doubts ,issues are the same and hence the connection. A teen is highly influenced by his peers .He wants to wear the similar type of clothes, hairdo, walk and behave. The so called cool quotient is established giving a sense of belonging to a teen. We as parents usually are wary of certain things and sound preachy. For example, You do not allow your 14 year old girl to wear short skirt at a mixed school party but fail to explain to her why not.So teens take it as a negative response and turn rebel. This creates a sense of distance and disconnect with parents. We have to empathize with our teens to understand the psyche and problems they face.Be watchful of your teen,s company but do not be judgemental. Explain the future consequences of unwanted actions taken under peer influence. Teach them skills to counter wrong peer pressure in a positive and affirmative manner. Learn effective communication skills to reach out to your teens.
3. Why my teen is so argumentative and sarcastic: As a teen mind is developing, certain areas of brain are growing faster then others. The area controlling emotions and relationships grows really fast making teenagers highly emotional, hyperreactive and impulsive. This makes them short tempered and moody. The brain area related to perception and risk calculation is still underdeveloped so teens do not think before making a comment or taking an action. Teens therefore become argumentative , moody and even sarcastic. As a parent, I would advise not to take all this personally and refrain from immediate reaction. Be quite and composed. 9 out of 10 such teens will realise their mistake and apologize provided you remain calm and do not counter react.
4. My teen is not interested in studies: Most parents complain that their teens spend a lot of time on social media , television, computer and do not study.As parents, we have to ensure overall development of our children. Academics is a part of it as is sports and extracurricular activities. Talk to your teens , discuss the schedule and try to include physical activity also in the daily curriculum along with academics and screen time. Follow the dictum "We Decided" and make the time table in corroboration with your teens. Be role models to your teens. Ditch your cell phone while talking to them or spending family time. Choose a physical activity for yourselves as well and stick to it. Set achievable academic targets for your teens with his/her equal involvement and focus on the means to achieve them. Provide them opportunities to nurture the talents that they possess apart from academics and most importantly, give unconditional love and support.
5. How do I sensitise my teen to sex and relationship issues: In a conservative society like ours, its difficult to talk about sex and sexual offences for parents. But its the need of the hour. We need to acquire communication skills to connect with our teens and give them the basic scientific knowledge lest they get it from some cheap and unreliable sources. We educate our girls about good touch bad touch and at the same time educate our boys to be sensitive and respectful to female sex. Gender sensitivity is the need today. Educate and empower your teens to understand their rights and stand up to any unwanted sexual advances. Encourage them to share their issues with you and promise them complete support from your side.