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Things To Remember While Dealing With Your Teenage Child

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on - 03 February 2023, Updated on - 06 March 2023

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If there is one thing that all parents can agree on, it's that parenting is challenging, even more so when you are raising a teen. As teenagers, your kids are at a stage where they are constantly trying new things, pushing boundaries and worst of all, throwing tantrums. 

At this age, kids are trying to create their own identities and assert their independence. This can make things complicated for parents, especially because teenagers begin to make important decisions that have real consequences, such as school, friends, substance use and sex. However, they are not yet good at regulating their emotions and are prone to making impulsive choices. For this reason, ensuring that you maintain a trusting and healthy relationship with your child during the teenage years is vital. However, it may not be as easy as it sounds. 

Mostly, teenagers don't like being interfered with, and they don't talk to their parents as much as they did when they were kids. So, while it may seem impossible to have a reasonable conversation with your teenager, take a deep breath and be patient. 

According to Dr Debanjan Banerjee, a psychiatrist associated with Apollo 24|7, “Dealing with teenagers is walking a slippery slope. As teenagers, your kids are at a stage where they are constantly trying new things, pushing boundaries, being stubborn and impulsive, and worst of all, throwing tantrums. Mostly, teenagers don't like being interfered with, and they don't talk to their parents as much as they did when they were kids. So, while it may seem impossible to have a reasonable conversation with your teenager, take a deep breath and be patient. They are navigating a transitional zone of 'self-exploration'.”

Here are some helpful tips to remember while dealing with your teenager. 

1. Be a Good Listener

Listening actively to your teen is vital when you interact with them. As an active listener, you need to be engaged, attentive, caring, empathetic and non-judgemental, even when you don't agree with their point of view. If you want to know what's going on in your child's life, simply sit back and listen instead of asking direct questions. Teenagers are more likely, to be honest, and open if they aren't pressured into sharing information. Just keep in mind that you're likely to learn more if you are interested and open to listening without prying. Also, if you listen actively, it can help your kid feel understood, heard and less alone. 

2. Validate Their Feelings

Parents often tend to offer solutions to their kids' problems or downplay their disappointments. Making statements like "they weren't really right for you anyway" or “it’s better to forget about it”, can make them feel like you are dismissing their feelings. Instead, it's better to show your kids that you empathise and understand them. You can show this by saying things like “that must be difficult”. Validating their feelings can help teens accept their feelings and make them feel safe to talk to you. 

3. Don’t Dictate Everything in Their Lives

As parents, you are responsible for setting the rules. However, it’s always better if you explain the reason behind these rules. Children need boundaries, regardless of whether they are teens or toddlers. However, it’s natural for teenagers to push boundaries. It can make the rules seem more reasonable if you offer a thoughtful explanation behind them. The process of enforcing rules becomes infinitely easier if you have agreed to them together instead of imposing them. You should make it a practice to explain why following a certain rule is important and negotiate about the things you can be a little flexible about. 

4. Give Them Space, But Not Too Much

Teenagers try very hard to create their own identities. It's essential to give them some time, space and privacy to be alone and do their own thing. This makes them feel that they are growing up. That said, it's just as important to continue spending some quality time with them. Try making it a practice to share mealtimes and go on occasional family outings. 

5. Appreciate and Praise Them

Parents usually praise their kids more often when they are younger. However, teens need a boost to their self-esteem just as much as toddlers do, if not more. It’s common for teens to act like they don’t care what you think of them, but in reality, they are always looking for your validation. Always stay on the lookout for opportunities to offer positive feedback and encouragement. This can also strengthen your relationship with your teen, especially when they’re feeling a little strained. 

6. Keep Your Emotions in Check

It’s normal for you to lose your calm when your teenager acts rude. However, it’s essential to avoid responding in such situations. Keep in mind that you are the adult here and teenagers are not quite capable of thinking logically when upset. Take deep breaths and calm yourself before you respond. If you still feel too upset to talk peacefully, take off for a while. It’s never a good idea to resolve a conflict when angry. 

Dr Debanjan Banerjee says that, “parents should try being a non-judgemental listener, validate their feelings, DO NOT dictate or always provide solutions, balance between space and limits, use ample of appreciation, DISCUSS - DO NOT DISMISS their issues, and finally seek professional help when needed for their mental wellbeing. Teenagers may be secretive and hesitant about friendships, sexual health, relationships, and substance abuse. An open, honest and peaceful communication is the key to dealing with a teenager. Remember that it's never too late to build and evolve your relationship with your child and strengthen your bond.”

All in all, open, honest and peaceful communication is the key to dealing with a teenager. Make sure your kid knows that you love them and will always be there for them. Usually, teenagers are aware of their bad behaviour and don't think too highly of themselves anyway. Just don't give up. Remember that it's never too late to repair your relationship with your child and strengthen your bond. However, if you still need help,

Consult Dr Debanjan Banerjee

 

Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

Mental Health

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