“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories”
– John Wilmot,
I always smile, when I read these lines and isn’t it true to the core? The parenting books, theories, workshops, you think, you’ve braced yourself for whatever is to come, especially if you have a pre-teen at home, and then, Teenage happens!
And let me warn you, It’s not quiet, its magnanimous like tsunami, and when it strikes, it can throw the best of psychologists off balance. Whenever I think of my son’s approaching teenage, I keep recalling the story of “the Trojan horse” which the Greeks used after a 10 years fruitless war to enter the city of troy and I can completely relate to them. No, not with Greeks but with the citizens of troy, poor they! they thought the decade long struggle is over but little did they realize, the horse a.k.a teen age with powerful mood swings and unbeatable hormonal jumps is here to stay. Similarly every time I hear an answer back and the typical smirk or “why don’t you leave me alone “look, I think about ‘troy’ the city.
When I was informed about the “Parenting workshop” in my son’s school by one of the most eminent psychologist ” Dr. Ravindran, I wanted to ask him, if there could really be a theory on raising kids or the workshop was for distributing anti depressants to the mothers 😛
I mean, we all know by now, that raising kids is not a science, it’s not maths either, and a+b might not be equal to c in every situation. It is an art instead and in that context, every parent is an artist (I should get this quote registered) So we learnt few tips of the colouring, brushing and some gentle strokes to make our masterpieces flawless or at least with minimum blunders. And here is the magic potion that I found pretty interesting..
As the workshop was mainly for kids aged 10 and above, I would advise the parents to use the discretionary power on kids of other ages. Well I would say we all came back a little more tolerant, accepting and empathetic towards our kids and here are some suggestions, discussions that happened and which would help all parents dealing with the bumpy teenage parenting ride.
1. Involve your kids in lot of physical activities. Kids this age should not have lot of free unsupervised time at home. The sport would give way to their raging hormones and this in turn will improve their concentration and performance in academics.
2. Don’t criticize his friends– group conformity is supremely important for them at this age so never criticize or ridicule his friends.(Remember your own times!!).
3. No comparison: with his siblings, cousins, academically better achieving friends. This is a sure shot way of disaster while dealing with a pre teen or a teen. (btw nobody likes comparison, neither Angelina Jolie nor you..)
First the explanations
My way – parents’ way, actually mothers way
Your way- child’s way
Our way- where you both agree (as if that happens!)
Kids 0 to 6 years
kids 6 to 10 years
Pre teens and teens
Hope these bar graphs would tell you what no words can. “Be a man” or woman, and accept that every time it can’t bemy way or highway… this phrase has been taken over by a young you instead.
Parents are always concerned about striking the right balance of independence and dependence in very young adults but are themselves confused and this can create further problems.
·One example- Going out with your friends in the evening? You are not that grown up.
·Opposite – You are growing moustaches and you can’t even take bath properly.
Result- kids are confused. Am I grown up or am I still a kid?
1. The child should be given freedom in choosing activities he wants to participate in, food he wants to eat ( by this age kids know what they like, so make things he likes, but make sure he tastes whatever is made too)
2. Stay away from making an unkind remark about the way he/ she dresses or styles the hair. Don’t push, only suggest. As long as they understand the divide between decent and outrageous, it is fine (They are anyway not very happy with their changing bodies.)
Bullying is a behaviour that is- Intentional, repeated and have power imbalance.
Parents (what you shouldNOTdo)
Don’t say It’s OK, sort out yourself or that it happens with everybody.
Never ask the child to bully back.
Before interfering ask the child if they would like you to do so.
Talk to the child and find out possible solutions, if he doesn’t like the interference.
If child is not comfortable with you intervening, confide in the teacher but make sure to keep it discreet, if things are not too bad.
Do escalate the matters if the bully behaviour doesn’t stop.
How to build confidence
1. Appreciate your child’s efforts.
2. Give him achievable targets.
3. Instead of catching them doing wrong…Try to catch them doing right and then compliment.
Handling sensitive children
In order to not make your child a cribber or cry baby, you should try not to cater to their attention seeking behavior.
Listen to his complains once, explain but don’t entertain the clingy tantrums too much.
And few last professional strokes
1. Children need boundaries. Set them and convey them I.e. study time (they should adhere to the pre decided schedule).
P.S. – parents, study time doesn’t mean 3 hours a day…mercy!
2. Don’t give incentive when he is not at his best behaviour, instead use positive reinforcement.
3. Rewards should be intermittent for continuous good work.not the other way round.
4. Tangible rewards should gradually be converted to intangible rewards (compliments and kind words).
I know there is nothing that you don’t know, or haven’t read already. But dear parent, knowing and implementing are two different things. And after reading such a long piece on “how to deal with kids that age” one at least try to do it for few days and then let the routine rule….
So till routine hits, Happy parenting!
What Did I Do Today?
What did I do today?
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odour grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before,
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall,
Will likely be there still next fall.
The dirty streaks on those window panes,
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?
I held a toddler while she wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that’s true.
Unless you think that what I’ve done,
Might be important to someone,
With bright brown eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true…I’ve done my share.