If ever there is a time to be intentional and close-mark your children, it is this pre-teen to adolescent stage.
While they ordinarily keep us on our toes, you’d better not be caught snoozing.
At this stage, kids tend to be rebellious and careless, do things without considering consequences or implications, test limits, and, if not guided rightly, sadly, make costly mistakes of epic proportions.
Some believe that some kids are destined to be bad, no matter the intervention of parents. I believe children if moulded early enough, will always turn out well or find their way back when they go astray. We have to put in the work, nonetheless.
This being said, moulding should start early enough, at toddler age. Because that thing called will is already formed during the teen years. And where there is a strong will, it’s difficult to break, modify, or reshape.
Adolescents with raging hormones are ticking time bombs and I do not say this lightly. You’d be shocked at the amount of knowledge about sex they already have and, even worse, how desperate they are to put into practice all that they think they know. Obviously, without considering the cost and how this can change their lives.
Adolescents deal with a lot already. From bullying to feeling insecure and inadequate to wanting to belong and be liked by everyone, With a high propensity to throw tantrums and misbehave when things do not go their way. It’s a lot. And how do we know this much about them? Well, if you haven’t forgotten already, we once were teenagers. It’s not going to be an easy ride for both parents and teens but we must trudge on.
I took time to list some things to share that have proven to work for me, so far. Some of these tips I feel would have worked for adolescent me, if they were applied.
- Teens need to feel loved and protected and feel that connection. They should never be in doubt of your love for them and that you’ll always protect them. There should always be that connection and connection comes from communication. Clear and open communication. If you’re always absent-minded, waving them off or distracted, it always sends a strong message and that message isn’t in the positive.
Adolescents have this insatiable need to be heard and understood. If you’re not a good listener, you need to start being one. You must see and hear everything. What they’re saying. And what they’re not saying, you will get from body language. It is important to read your kids well.
- Be there for them. This could mean showing up for them or stepping into a situation that needs your intervention or presence. When you make promises, keep them. When you let them down, find a way to make it up. If you don’t, you’re telling them you cannot be counted on and they will learn not to trust you or the things you say.
- I want to stress a little more on communication. This is probably the most important aspect of parenting adolescents. Everyone must be heard and understood. The kids should understand you and you should understand them. This is easily achieved when the environment is friendly and safe. The majority of adolescents who misbehave and make crazy mistakes more often than not, never had an environment that enabled good communication at home. In my home, 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime is known as gist time, where we talk about everything. The kids ask all the questions in their minds and I try to answer all. They express concerns and things that make them apprehensive and I seek ways to offer solutions. They also tell me everything that happens in school. This was how I got to know that little boys and girls are already ‘coupling up’ in school. I was even more shocked when parents expressed shock at what their kids were capable of, because I had to alert the school management.
- The company they keep. After family members, the next people in very close contact with your kids, that can influence them are their friends. It’s important to know who their friends are. If possible, find ways to listen to what they talk about. This is the reason I like them bringing their friends home. Some companies should be encouraged. Others shouldn’t. The company can also extend to the things you say around them and also the movies they watch.
There are certain characters children exhibit and you wonder where they picked them from. Check what you’re saying to their hearing. Children shouldn’t hear adult conversations at all. Also, check the movies they’re watching. A little boy pestering a little girl to be his girlfriend definitely picked it from a movie that was rated PG-21, but the parents were careless and allowed him to watch.
If you want to avoid any cases of teen pregnancy with your kids, don’t joke with this paragraph.
- Finally, after applying all the lovey-dovey tools in psychology, the role of discipline should not be neglected. The good book says not to spare the rod so as not to spoil the child. But this doesn’t mean beating per se. Remember, there’s a thin line between discipline and abuse. There are so many ways to not spare the rod and this is determined by age of child. From time out in the naughty corner to taking away their favourite toys and games, to being grounded, to doing the odd jobs around the house and more. They need to be taught that actions have consequences and you need to put your feet down and enforce these. There’s this African proverb that says, “What a child refuses to learn at home, he’ll learn outside.” Now you know you don’t want this cos the street is brutal and you don’t want your child to learn from the streets.