As parents, we tend to stop being overtly loving as a child becomes older. But teens yearn for expressions of our love as much as younger children do.
By Sujatha Devaji
“When I was a little boy, my parents used to buy me whatever I asked for. They played with me and loved me a lot. But, nowadays, all I get from them is a lot of advice and tons of scolding, especially about studies, exams and marks. Also, they always compare me with others. They find fault in whatever I do. I’ve stopped talking to them. I think they HATE me!” – These are the words of a teenager, as told to the counsellor at his school.
To some extent, this reflects the way children (especially teens) are generally treated today by their parents. But, does the love parents had for their children when they were younger really fade away as the children grow up? If you, as a parent, refute this and say you still love your child as much but that she needs to understand this without your expressing it, you’re mistaken. You should openly express the love you have for your teen. Only then will she understand how you feel and reciprocate.
As a parent, you try to be your child’s guide and discipline him, based on your own set of strict rules. You do this because you feel that is what is good for him. Although this may be true, why can’t you do it with the same kind of love and affection you showed when your child was a little one? In fact, by being harsh, you will never be able to discipline your child. It is only when you show that you care for your teenager that he will start listening to you. And, when the relationship between you and your child becomes stronger, he will understand that whatever you’re doing is for his good, and he will respond positively.
Here are a few things you can do to bring about a friction-free relationship with your child:
Express your love in words: Words have magic in them. The more you soak them in love, the more wonders they will work. ‘Darling’, ‘Bunny’, ‘Sweetie-pie’, ‘Honey’, ‘Champ’ – whatever word you use, it should touch your child deeply. These words will tell her that you are always there for her. Most parents tend to stop using words of endearment when their children step into the teenage years. But these words are absolutely necessary to deal with your child, however grown-up she may be. And, it is equally important to praise your child whenever she does something good.
Hugs and pats work miracles: Children are never too old for a hug or pat. Do you still remember the days when you used to constantly hug and cajole your little one? What stops you from doing it now? A big hug, a pat on the shoulder, a gentle kiss – all these work wonderfully to strengthen your bond with your child. You need to do this especially when your child is having trouble fighting the problems of teenage. It will help lower any stress, anxiety or anger he might have, and make him more cheerful.
Spend more ‘together’ time: The most vital thing to do in maintaining a friendly relationship with your child is to spend more time with her. In most households, parents are so engrossed with their own work that the children don’t get an opportunity to even talk to them. As a parent, make sure you spend some time with your child every day, really listening to what she says. She might have some concerns, problems, troubles, doubts, confusions or even a fear of things happening around her. Teens, especially, will have something or the other to share with you. It’s important that you are there to listen to what your child says and respond positively. Even if there isn’t anything serious to talk about, just having a jovial conversation regularly will give her a sense of belonging and of security. Remember, as a parent, your first priority is to address your child’s concerns. Everything else can wait.
Lend a helping hand: Children, nowadays, have so much to do. School, tuitions, coaching classes, extra-curricular activities – they seem to be busy all the time. Your child needs your help in managing these tasks. No doubt, you too are busy. But, try to spend a little time helping your teen with his routine. Little things like helping him pack his bag for school or driving him to special classes will make him feel good. While he should learn to manage his responsibilities himself, a little help from you will go a long way in strengthening the parent-child bond.
Say it with gifts: One of the simplest and most effective ways of expressing your love for your child is by way of gifts. It might be a pen, a doll, a pair of earrings, a kurti, a T-shirt or a belt – the size or the value of the gift really doesn’t matter – it is the act of gifting that has a huge positive impact. Children, especially teens, feel elated when even a small achievement or milestone of theirs is recognised by their parents. It encourages them to put in more effort and do things better.
There are so many other ways to express your love for your child and make her feel special. You know your child better than anyone else and you can allow that knowledge to guide your behaviour towards her. Remember, your little acts of expressing love are the building blocks of the relationship you will share with your child for years to come. The love you show will ensure the bond between you lasts a lifetime.
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