Surrey, Vancouver, April 24, 2012
Adolescence is a very challenging phase in a person’s life. It is full of confusion, ambivalence, uncertainty and unpredictability. At this stage of their lives, the adolescents tend to be more peer focused. Some of them will go to any length to gain peer approval and acceptance.
At this stage of their lives most of the adolescents resist any limits being placed on them. Some of them will even go as far as outright defiance and rebellion. This kind of behaviour makes a parent’s / caregiver’s job even harder. Under these circumstances, most of the parents become frustrated and angry.
It has been reported that this expression of anger and exasperation on the parents’ part may be in vain. A study revealed that teenagers – especially 13 and 14 years olds – lack the ability to comprehend these emotions. Their social intelligence around the puberty time is rather low. This kind of social limitation is true both for boys and girls. As they grow older, their level of competence in reading social cues also improves.
In this context, it is important to keep in mind that getting angry at an adolescent’s behaviour may not be of much help. Instead, as parents / caregivers we need to find more effective ways of reaching out and connecting with him / her.
Adolescents need to recognize that parents want the best for them. They (parents) are always there when needed. Parenting is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs in the world. It is a 24 hours job, seven days a week and 365 days of the year. Parents don’t get any vacation or vacation pay. These are some of the facts of life that the children need to recognize.
Having said that, children often complain that their parents don’t listen to them. As such, as parents, we need to be attentive listeners. Good listening is a very special skill that can be a great asset in any situation. We should try to become not only active but also reflective listeners.
Spending quality time with children, especially as they enter the adolescence phase, is extremely important. It has been reported that most of the youth wish to have more quality time with their families. It goes a long way in strengthening the bond. Moreover, it is a powerful way to build up a young person’s self-esteem and give him/her a sense of belonging.
Certainly, there is a lot of pressure on our time. However, as parents, grandparents and caregivers, we also must keep in mind that our children are our greatest resource and our future. They deserve the best we can offer.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)