One's teenage years are said to be a phase of transition. It is a time when an individual ceases to be a child and is halfway into adulthood but is still not entirely an adult. It is a period of confusion, hormonal changes, rebellious-defiant behaviour and occasional experimentation. We often hear parents say things like, ''Oh but she was never like this till the 5th std'', ''I don't know what has got into him, he just refuses to touch his books'', ''I have a strong feeling he might be doing drugs'', ''She only watches TV, he is only into his video games'', ''She is obsessed with her friends and her make-up'' and so on. We rarely hear parents say they had a smooth sailing in their children's' teenage years. It's often the parents who go through more of a roller coaster than their children.
Children at this age often end up pushing boundaries and experimenting with risky behaviours. Their perception of risk is lower than otherwise, hence they might easily get swayed into doing drugs, tobacco or alcohol and other such behaviours. Parents may sometimes notice a behaviour change in their teens if they are indulging in either drugs or alcohol, it's always better to be alert and look out for any suspicious behaviour change.
Many of them also tend to solely rely on friends for advice who are like their 'soul-mates' and 'secret-keepers', because confiding in parents might meet with judgmental reactions. Some at this age also generally believe that talking to parents and sharing feelings with them is just too 'sissy'. The whole ''I-CAN-TAKE-CARE OF MYSELF'' ''I-KNOW WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND'' approach is what dominates this age bracket.
So how does one actually deal with a teenager?
- It is very important to establish a rapport with one's child, and this rapport cannot be established overnight. It starts from one's formative years and continues into the teens.
- Do not judge. Do not roll your eyeballs or react in a ''OMG what have you done''? kind of way. It will never help. Whatever they've done is not earth-shattering. Even if it is, try and be helpful and look for a solution.
- Be a friendly parent. Not a 'friend' in the absolute terms. you are not a friend, you are a parent. Respect the relationship.
- Be there for the child when he/she needs you.
If you are experiencing difficulties in dealing with your teen get help. Different ways can be worked out in handling a child who is going through changes. It is never too late to seek professional help.