Challenges of Parenting a Teenage Child
"“A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, “Dear, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.” The little girl said, “No, Dad. You hold my hand.” “What’s the difference?” Asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference,” replied the little girl. “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.”"
Children when young have tremendous trust in us and we are the centre of their small world. They share all their stories, friends and all that happened during the day with us. But trouble starts when they embark on their journey to adolescence. The hormonal changes they experience are first manifested physically and then gradually in their socio-emotional development. In their quest for their unique identity, they start asserting their independence sometimes vociferously, leaving us at loss as to how to deal with their mood swings, need for secrecy, demand for freedom and temper tantrums.
Dear parents as one of your fraternity I understand how challenging it becomes to manage our children’s emotional outbursts and tantrums. But also understand that if a child is throwing tantrums or behaving it may be a signal of distress and not defiance. A child at this time has high emotional intensity but lower coping capacity. Following strategies will help you deal effectively with your child’s outbursts and tantrums:
Understand the real reason behind the tantrum: The behaviour displayed during a tantrum is undoubtedly annoying. But it may also be because of a deeper cause lurking underneath the undesirable behaviour. Temper is the self, trying to be heard. The child who has tantrums is trying to communicate something to you, but cannot express what he really needs. So try and understand what it is that the child really wants.
Stop overscheduling:One of the biggest stressors for kids today is being overscheduled.Children today are leading a very hectic life. We may provide them materialistic comfort in terms of independent air conditioned rooms, driving them to school. Yet, we can’t deny the competitive pressure they experience. Today, kids are expected to pay attention and perform in school, excel at extracurricular activities, come home, attend tuitions, finish homework, and go to bed just to do it all over again the next day. Children need time to rejuvenate. Encourage and allow your child to take some time off and indulge in pursuits and hobbies that he enjoys.
Try and keep children utilized gainfully in constructive activities: Just as important to not overschedule children it’s also important to not let them be idle for long periods of time. Weekend and holiday breaks can be used for enrolling them in hobby/activity clubs to pursue activities of their choice. These can also be used as family time together. You can go riding on a cycle, play monopoly, scrabble, zinga among other games. Also you can take them for picnics to parks and museums and use the time to connect and bond with them
Encourage your child to express his/her anxiety: If your child says that he or she is worried or scared, don't downplay it by saying “No you're not!" or "You're fine." That doesn't help your child. Instead, it is likely to make your child believe that you do not listen or do not understand him/her. Instead, validate your child's experience by saying things like "Yes, you seem scared. What are you worried about?" Then have a discussion about your child's emotions and fears.
Be a positive role model and stay calm: We should be careful of our own reaction to the child’s emotional outburst. It's essential that we are not verbally harsh when angry. Try saying, "It upsets me when you do that," rather than "You make me crazy," so your child understands that the problem is his behaviour, not him. Be careful to avoid excessive criticism, which tends to chip away at a child's self-confidence. Also don’t try to control children during an outburst as the child will resist it even more. Discuss his behaviour after the phase is over.
""Affirming words from parents are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child's life and it's like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.”"