While I’m the proud father of an 11-year-old boy, I don’t usually talk about productivity related to parenting. However, recently, I have had a few friends write on Facebook or contact me directly through Whatsapp telling me the issues they were having with their teenage kids.
Their issues were not uncommon ones for parents of teenage children – rude, selfish, aggressive behavior. My friends were at their wit’s end, not knowing what to do and as a result, they were expanding a lot of time and energy dealing with their kids.
This article is dedicated to those parents of teenagers or young’ uns in order to better prepare them for the years to come. My hope is that it will help them stay sane and still have energy left at the end of the day. I know full well I have yet to experience the rebellious years with my own son, but I have spent years brainwashing, errrr…teaching him in the hopes that we won’t go through what so many parents do.
In case you’re wondering, I am drawing from my many years as an educator as well as my own experience.
1. Be strict, but fun
People confuse strictness with being unkind. Far from it, parents who are strict do care, sometimes too much. But like most things in life, too much of anything is bad which is why you can’t be strict all the time. However, many children today have been raised without strict rules and are suffering because of it.
Like it or not, there are rules. At home, in the workplace, and in society there are things we can and cannot do. Manners are those things that society has determined to be good, so if you want your kids to be accepted in society, we need to teach them the basics at the bare minimum. That means no talking with your mouth full, sitting properly at the table, using a knife and fork (or chopsticks), no lip when talking back to our parents, etc.
Investing the time to teach your children how to behave is something that will pay off big in time so get started as early as you can. The last thing you want to do is wait until they start acting out before you implement rules because doing so will likely blow up in your face.
2. Give them their freedom (but with rules)
Teenagers need their freedom. It’s at a time in their life where they are testing their boundaries, questioning authority (especially their parents), becoming an adult. In order to do so, they need their space. For some parents, this is a tough one as they fear the repercussions, but in my own experience, because my parents gave me freedom, I didn’t feel the need to rebel. In fact, most of my friends thought my parents were cool. But it came at a price – honesty, and openness. My parents only had two rules:
– Tell them where I was going (with who and about what time I would come home)
– Tell them goodnight when I got home
With regards to smartphones, many parents simply give their children one when they reach a certain age and believe everything will be hunky-dory. How wrong some of them are. Kids might hate me for saying this, but I believe kids should sign a contract with their parents when they get a smartphone. You decide the rules and the key is they must be enforced down to the letter.
3. Listen to them
Stephen Covey in his bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly People, talks about the importance of empathic listening. When dealing with children, it’s even more important. Most parents listen without really listening. They hear what they want to hear, rather than what their children are trying to say.
Many parents struggle to understand the new challenges their kids face. My generation did not have to worry about cyberbullying or other issues regarding social media, but today they are very real things for many kids. It’s important that parents really take the time to listen to their kids’ troubles in order to help them. That means putting down our own smartphone or turning off the TV and really talking to your kids on a regular basis.
4. Study (to be better)
There are those people out there that think they know everything. I know because I’m one of them – lol. Jokes aside, many parents never take the time to improve their own parenting skills. It’s their way or the highway sort of thing. I’m a big believer in always developing as a person, and the same goes for parents. Any good therapist or psychologist would admit that there is no one right way to deal with everyone. The same is true for children. We need to find what works for our kids.
In the excellent book, The 16 Personality Types by A.J. Drenth, reveals that each of us has two main characteristics that dominate our feelings. It’s important for parents to at least familiarize themselves with the different types to better deal with their children.
Some are logical with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, others are spontaneous, energetic and enthusiastic. My own son is extraordinarily caring and has a strong sense of justice, he also thrives in high-pressure situations. But that’s him, what kind of personality does your child have? The answer will help you realize how best to approach them.
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