Show your teen some tender loving care
Sometimes all that your teen needs is some tender love and care. Spend time and give her some loving attention and watch her grow up to be a happy, successful child. Read on to know how.
By Sujata Vasant Dewaji
Our need to feel loved is our most basic need. Teenagers, too, want to be loved and appreciated. So, it is most necessary for parents to know how to effectively meet the teenager’s need for love. One troubled teen told his school counsellor frankly, "When I was small, my parents would play with me, laugh with me, and tell me how much they loved me. I felt so special. Now they are constantly correcting me, scolding me and telling me what to do. We don’t talk now. I don’t think they love me."
Discipline and love
As parents, we often take it for granted that our children know that we love them deeply, and we do not focus on expressing our love to them daily. Instead, we focus more on the parental role of disciplining our children. We are anxious about making sure they study well, work hard, make the right friends, and spend their time efficiently. We do not realise that our focus on discipline often harms our attachment to our children. We scold, nag, lecture or give them consequences. Most often, the methods we use to teach and discipline, erode the attachment between parent and child.
But if we do not focus on discipline, and instead work harder on attachment, it is interesting to see how discipline falls in place. This is because children are open to being guided by those they feel attached to. When the attachment is strong, they value and respect our opinion. When they feel deeply loved, they are receptive to negotiation and solving problems together.
So, as parents of teenagers, it would be worthwhile to invest more time in building the attachment with teens rather than habitually correcting and controlling them. Attachment develops when you show them unconditional love — loved for who they are and not just if they live up to your expectations.
Giving quality time implies being together with your teenage child, giving him undivided time and focusing on him. It means no phones, no work, or no housework when you are spending time with him.
Quality conversations: While having a dialogue with your teen, maintain eye contact and pay full attention to what he is saying. Listen and try not to interrupt. Express understanding and offer reasons for your point of view. Refrain from giving instructions, commands or advice that may steer the talk into a blaming or criticising mode. Have conversations for the sole purpose of enjoying being with your child.
Quality activities: Plan fun activities with your teenager, keeping his interests in mind, to communicate your love. Create opportunities for quality time to show your eagerness to be involved in his life, to make him feel that he is important in your life.
Five love languages
According to Dr Gary Chapman, author and family consultant, there are five love languages through which one can express emotional love to the other. He states that every person has one strong love language over the others and if communicated effectively, the person feels loved. In his book 'The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers', he describes the five ways by which parents can meet their teenager’s need for love.
Ideas for words of affirmation
- Write short love notes, and leave them in places like your son’s lunch box or cupboard
- Make a card or an artwork and write on it why you love him
- Write inspirational quotes and tell him that it reminded you of him
- List his qualities and reasons why you are proud of him, and read them out to him
- When you are away, mail or message him saying how much you miss him
Ideas for physical touch
- Oil and comb her hair
- Stroke her hair when she is tired
- A hug or a kiss when she leaves for school and later returns home
- A high-five, an elbow shake or a pat on the back to appreciate her efforts or to congratulate her success
- A family group hug
- Play sports that require physical touch
That was insightful, wasn't it? So go on, and spend some quality time with your teenagers. They need you more now, than ever before. Bond better and strengthen the wonderful relationship you share with your children.
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