Stunned when your little one, who thought the world of you, is now all grown up and seems to have suddenly transformed into someone who just can’t see eye-to-eye with you? Worried that everything you say or do is met with opposition or rebellion on your teen’s part? Wondering how the two of you are going to get through the coming years with the constant conflicts? Well, it is possible to avoid such conflicts with your teen and help the two of you sail through this turbulent phase smoothly. Here are five ‘Cs’ that parents need to keep in mind to avoid power struggles with their adolescents, according to Arundhati Swamy, Counsellor and Head – Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle.
- Competence: A typical teen tends to become more independent and confident by trying new things. She is exploring ‘risky’ behaviour and pushing boundaries. So, rather than clamping down on her competencies, motivate her to push ‘healthy’ boundaries where she can discover and learn a new hobby or subject (not necessarily academic) that can be converted into an ability or skill.
- Confidence: Your teen’s growing sense of independence and confidence depend on his childhood experiences. As a teen, he is beginning to realise his self-worth and self-esteem, while also attempting to understand his own perspective of himself. These discoveries take place in the way he dresses, the choices he makes, the books he reads and his other new interests. Make sure you encourage him in this process of self-discovery. However, do keep in mind that teens can also face self-doubt, which can be manifested through body image issues. This can be the result of the physical changes that teens go through or from the stereotype images that are promoted on media and other external channels. Therefore, make an effort to understand how your teen feels and help him to feel good about himself regarding his competencies and skills. This will boost his confidence.
- Connection: This relates to your teen extending her associations with others and her expanding social circles. Help her establish healthy relationships with her peers. Also, help her recognise when people are being supportive of her and when she is being exploited in a relationship. Her social connections must bring out the best in her. The parent-child connection is also significant. If this bond is defined mostly by conflict, then it will be one of ‘disconnect’. This, in turn, will lead to your teen being more vulnerable and passive in her own social connections, and, perhaps, make her a victim of exploitation or bullying.
- Character: This involves your teen’s own moral development, which is largely influenced by the values that he has acquired in his home and school environments. As he enters his teens, he now begins to develop a clear sense of right and wrong. He typically sees things in black and white and as idealistic; and, when this doesn’t happen, he begins to question or challenge things. You might misread this as defiance. Instead, encourage him to have healthy conversations with you rather than arguments.
- Control: A typical parent-teen conflict arises from the teen’s need to be more independent. Your teen is beginning to take charge of her life now and trying to gauge how she can manage herself and be in control. She analyses the values that are important to her, while attempting to discover her purpose in life. Her new behaviour might seem to reflect the loss of values. But, remember that it has nothing to do with her value system; so, refrain from preaching to her. Allow her to be in control, while gently guiding her.
It is important that you maintain a delicate balance between being supportive and being in firm control. And, remember, all the changes that your teen is going through overwhelm him. Do not add to this by telling him one moment that he is not old enough and the other that he should behave like an adult. This will only confuse him. “As your teen grows”, says Ms Arundhati, “draw larger boundaries rather than maintaining those used when he was younger.” Respect the fact that your child is growing and understand the need to give him his space. Empathise with his feelings and uncertainties. “However, keep in mind that he is not ready to be in complete self-control as the areas of the brain that control these functions are the last to develop. This development continues well past the teenage years,” she adds.
So, keep these pointers in mind and enjoy a great relationship with your teen.