Communication with Your Adolescent
Parents and Adolescents
Nowadays all perceptive parents recognize the features and stages of normal child development and know that children characteristically learn to walk and talk at certain stages and become capable of understanding various concepts at other ages. It is also known that only at certain stage of development certain things can be taught to the child and the child is capable of learning it.
Flexibility in rearing
It is true that one should not permit the rearing processes to take an undisciplined course, yet in adolescence, certain flexibility in rearing is essential as this is the period in which the youngster is searching for an identity, a sort of person he or she wants to become, and who would like to define their ambitions, goals and the values to which her or she would subscribe. This search for identity, drives the youngsters to a need to assert their own independence and individuality sometimes to the point of being even aggressive.
Dependency creates hostility
Normal adolescence is characterised by a terrible
conflict between wanting to be grown up wanting to remain securely the responsibility of parents. Most young people emerge from adolescence as perfectly capable grown-ups. However, those who fail to resolve this conflict carry the burden of adolescent immaturity into their adult lives. It must be remembered that dependency creates hostility and parents who foster dependence invite unavoidable hostility and resentment. They can be help the adolescents to become more self sufficient and make them feel that; they can be on their own though whenever they need support parents would help. This confidence would help an youngster grow up with comfort,with little hostility and resentment against parents. Parents should not treat an adolescent as a child.
Youngsters need privacy
A teenager's need is urgent and pressing . Parents can help by tolerating the youngsters' restlessness, their loneliness and accepting their discontent. They can best; help by not prying and must recognise that the youngsters need privacy; which allow them to have a life or their own. By providing privacy the parents can demonstrate respect for the youngsters and help them to disengage from the elders (parents) and grow up. Providing privacy means that the parents should remember not to read the youngsters' mail, listen in to their telephonic conversations or ransack their tables, cloths and other belongings.
Physical stresses and sex education
Physical stresses of adolescence are indeed well known; for instance, acne is the most distressing condition for many teenagers; also, physical ambition which goes beyond physical capacity is often the source of great frustration. So is physical strength which exceed the experience, judgement and wisdom needed to pursue it appropriately. At this time, puberty with its bewildering array of physical changes and the emergence of sexual feelings, is invariably a source of trauma for the youngster.
Sex education in this context plays an important role and parents have to recognize this. In fact sex education has two parts; information and values. Information can best be given by experts, at the same time , parents too within their limited knowledge should encourage their teenagers to take part in discussions on sex sponsored by the schools and community center of clubs. Information with objectivity and honesty may decrease hostility and increase trust between the parents and the youngsters. Adults on their part would regain faith in the youths. Both boys and girls need to know that not all is fair in love and sex.
Inconsistency causes confusion
Adolescence is the time when predictability from the world around is specially sought by the youngster. Inconsistency causes confusion to the adolescent to the point of misery and helplessness. Much of the "alienation" that is said to be felt by the teenagers is the outcome of the outcome of the inconsistency by the adults who are unable to understand the importance of consistency to these teenagers, as many rules are instituted but never applied in any instance. When a rules is broken, it should have adequate justification or else the youngster gets confused and his sense of security gets threatened. If the parent or teacher says that he or she would punish if something is not done, they should carry out the punishment in the event of the youngster failing to comply. Without this consistency, effective learning cannot take place, appropriate responses will not be established, and the likelihood of aggressiveness towards others will markedly increase.
Adolescents' experience, perception and feelings
Adolescence is the period when habits develop, basic skills are learned, social conscience is formed, and the very ability to learn is recognised. While the importance of constitution, innate capacity and stage of maturation cannot be underestimated, it is the learning that shapes the youngster into the distinctive person that he becomes. The youngster tries to learn many things in his own way and puts across his own way and puts across his own ideas however incorrect the ideas may be. The parents should remember not to fight a teenager or condemn him for his ideas of label him as useless thinker etc. Point out the other aspects of the same idea too. Never try to convince the teenager that his idea are stupid or idiotic, because the real danger is that he may believe the parents and become worse in the process. This would only create hostility. It is for the parents to demonstrate to the teenager the right methods of communication and conversation by their own behaviours. Thus learning that takes place in adolescence plays a major role in setting the seal on the person as an unique individual.
Adolescence is the age of inconsistency and ambivalence, full of contradictions such as being artistic, generous and at the same tine being selfish, egoistic, calculating and self centered. They may complain without adequate reason, pick on everyone and make life difficult for others in the house. The parents should understand and listen to their problems without any judgmental / evaluative comments and give the youngster enough opportunity to ventilate their feelings. They would not only be able to come to terms with their frustrations and problems but will feel grateful for this opportunity given to them for verbalizing their feelings.
It is always better to acknowledge than deny the youngster's feelings, perceptions and experiences. Reflect them back to them. When the youngster is in trouble, the parents have a tendency to act as thought they were the teenager's prosecutor. They would find excuses and defences for the behavior or the strangers who hurt the youngster. It is important not to do so though it is also not correct to condone the youngster's misbehaviour. The parents should show that they understand the teenager's anger, hurt and humiliation, while keeping in mind that it would be easier to resolve incidents and restore peace when emotions have subsided, and that the youngster could be told how, why and what went wrong rather; than taking sides with the person who caused humiliation to the teenager. It is important for the parents to convey this feeling to the youngster that they are available to them for support and help and that the youngster could depend on them.
In almost every situation one finds parents criticising the adolescents for something they have or have not done. Most parental criticisms are unhelpful. It creates anger, resentment and a desire for revenge. Also, the youngster may start condemning himself or herself and find fault with others. They start becoming suspicious of people around them. It should be remembered that most criticisms are unnecessary.
Similarly when a teenager is in difficulty, it is important for the parent to show him or her what should be done in that situation. It would be wrong on parents' part to attack the youngster's personality or his character saying that "what else can one expect from a dullard like him", etc. Criticism of personality or character leads to negative feelings about oneself. Thus the youngster would react with anger and resentment which would in turn make him feel guilty and ask for punishing by acting up, leading to more attack on personality and so on to a vicious circle of criticism-wrong behaviour-more criticism- more wrong behaviour etc.
How to properly tackle your adolescent son or daughter .
Shed all prejudices and bias against this age group.
"Your adolescent child's difficult behaviour does not signal his loss of respect for you or all that you stand for . It only points to the need for communicating better.
But before proceeding, let us clarify two doubts that are put forth by almost all adults.
" My parents brought me up this way and I Grew up right; why doesn't it work with my son?
We generally forget that the world is no longer the same . It has changed a lot. The whole scenario is different now. Take a walk in your home town-see if anything has remained the same -the way people dress, eat or shop. There are a few "decades" between you and your adolescent son and that is a lot of time, and consequently means a lot of change.
" I have been bringing him up this way since he was a child. So why change now?
Every adolescent wants you to recognize that he is big and demands to be treated like any adult. When he can't, others have a problem. Smaller children may accept instructions more easily and act the way you want them to. As they grow up, they grow up, they do question your authority and no longer hide their resentments when parental pressure is used. Punishments which did work well in the past, are now likely to backfire. Trying to cow them down with threats may only taunt them to pay you back with the same coin.
Every adolescent is trying to find his bearings in the adult world. He is often confused about what he should do or how he should behave. He needs an anchor to hang on to in this period of turbulence.
Make sure you are there
This is a period when crucial decisions are made-decisions that will mark his future. Only when a strong parent child relationship exists, can you influence him to take the right decisions. he needs to stay emotionally close to you . and, you need to help him stay this way by communicating well.