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OTHER ITA SITES:
7 Steps to Reconnect to Your Wayward Teen
The teen years are a period of tension and chaos in most families, with the elders wondering what happened to their sweet little child and the teen seemingly indifferent to the pain he/she causes his loved ones. But it doesn't have to be that way, especially when you realise that the key words are "little" and "seemingly". Your child isn't little any more but at the cusp of adulthood .However there is a lack the emotional maturity to help steer through the maelstrom of hormonal ups and downs, self doubt, fear of the future and their place in it. While wanting to do the right thing, teens also want to break free of constraints to explore that which is proscribed. It is a time of possibilities and trepidation and it really doesn't help the teen if he/she knows or feels that the elders are watching with disapproval. It doesn't help because it turns him/her even more rebellious and because this is the time when he/she needs the parents' unconditional love. However, there is no need to lose heart as there are ways to make the transition from wayward teen to mature adult easier.
1) Respect - Nothing is as disrespectful to a teen as treating him/her like a child. In his/her own eyes that phase has passed; not realising it sends an unspoken yet powerful message that the teenager isn't being seen as one who is at a new threshold facing different challenges where the old guide book doesn't really work.
2) Trust - Place a high premium on truth so that the thought of betraying your belief in him/her gives pause. It will probably happen, but to a lesser degree and far less often than usual. Trust your child unless you have proof, not suspicion, of wrong doing. If you act on suspicion alone, the teen will use your lack of actual knowledge to manipulate you into feelings of guilt or anger and thus sidestep the whole issue.
3) Discipline - Most teenagers prefer structure in their lives, limits to what they can do. Trying to push past these boundaries is what helps them to internalize accepted social mores since the family is where the child first comes in contact with the rules of reciprocity i.e. behave or else there will be consequences to face.
4) Flexibility - Balance discipline with flexibility, in other words, choose your battles. Choice of clothes, fashion, music call for a degree of resigned acceptance - they do outgrow those fads - but disrespect, acting out in anger merit greater attention. It is alright, even desirable, for a teenager to question authority, as long as he/she realizes that it does not give the teen carte blanche to attack it.
5) Guidance - Never let yourself forget that as a parent you are your child's most important role model, even if at times it doesn't feel like it. As your child passes through the teen years, your job description changes from teacher to guide, gently but firmly piloting the teenager through troubled waters through example and suggestions.
6) Letting Go - The hardest thing to do as a parent is seeing your child make mistakes that you know can be avoided and yet it is the truest indicator of your deep love. Provided it does not cause irrevocable harm, the best thing you can do is to let go of your teen and have confidence that all that you have tried to teach him/her has found root, even if overtly it does not seem so.
7) Expressions of Love - At the beginning of this article I had used the phrase "seemingly indifferent" to describe a teenager's apparent lack of concern for his family and that is usually what it is. Trying hard to act as an adult by masking the emotions is common among teenagers, but it does not mean that they are not receptive to genuine expressions of love. It is not enough to love your teen, he/she must feel it at the very core of their being. Hugs, kisses, terms of affection and constantly telling your child how much he/she means to you will be the anchor during trying times.
Above all have faith in yourself and your child and you can see the result in the years to come as your wayward teen grows into the adult you can be proud of. It will be your crowning achievement.
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