When anyone remembers their teen years, they usually become filled with nostalgia. For most, being teenagers meant laughing and playing without any fear or constraints and looking at life in the simplest way; a layer of love and protection from family and friends nurturing us and easing our journey into adulthood. The transition period of becoming adults from children is never easy and most of us would agree that yes, being a teenager was rough indeed. However, no one can also deny that those years when the mind and body seemed to be at constant wars with each other, were also some of the best years of one’s life.
But it isn’t like this for everyone. From thirteen to nineteen, the body goes through a series of structural as well as hormonal changes. Emotions go through ups and downs and bullying, abuse etc at school or at home make things all the more difficult for the young ones to adjust to. Many teenagers struggle with these changes but can’t seem to find solutions for them. Romance starts to slowly peek into their lives which also come off as troubling. We hear most parents of teenagers complaining that their children have become rude or undisciplined or simply term them as ‘rebels’. Why won’t he listen to me when I ask him to do the chores? Why would she prefer hanging out with her friends than sit for a quiet dinner with the family? Instead of worrying or accusing, try to get to the bottom of it all.
Is it always the parents who have responsibilities? Not really, teenagers too should have things to consider and act upon. If both parents are working and only have time during weekends, try to engage them during that time for family outings, dinners, lunches. Watching movies or cooking together are also great ways to bond with the family. Blaming your parents for not giving you enough time is hardly an issue, remember that they are toiling away so that you receive the best education, the best nourishment and the best possible life.
Since you no longer consider yourself as a child and refuse to be treated like one, then it’s also time for you to start behaving like an adult! For most Bangladeshi families, Fridays are when the monthly or weekly groceries are done, why not accompany your parents on one such trip to the store? If relative are coming over for an occasion, why not help your parents with the cleaning? If something is troubling you like an upcoming test or someone making you feel uncomfortable in person or on social media, tell your parents immediately.
For starters, parents should try talking to their children. Sometimes children get lost amidst the burden of school lessons, tuitions, exams and extra-curricular activities. While all these are necessary for students, parents should also make sure there is enough time for leisure. And certainly leisure should not be limited to playing or chatting on smartphones or eating fastfood. Once a day talk to your teen, have a simple conversation about how the day went and while talking, a lot will be revealed.
The problem with a society such as ours is that we have normalized physical abuse everywhere but in truth, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ is the worst statement ever, corporal punishment at school or at home is not supported by childhood development professionals. Hitting children may seem to work for the moment, but the damage it creates becomes irreversible with time. According to APA (American Psychological Association), when children are hit, it builds aggression and anxiety in them and may also harm their cognitive development. If they’re not listening to you, APA suggests “taking away their privileges” or “giving a time out”. So when your teen is behaving badly, you could stop the internet connection for a while and only turn it back on when the behavior is satisfactory. Or when he/she is throwing tantrums, ignore and let it die down before sitting him/her down and having a conversation about the whole thing.
Being judgmental parents will only make things worse, if your teen daughter or son is opening about something personal, try to listen first without jumping into conclusions. Children are not supposed to understand what is right and what is wrong, it is the job of the parents. If it’s a classmate that is being a bully or a classmate that he/she is developing feelings for, try to understand first and then do something. For example, tell him or her that it is okay to have friends but that examinations are always the first priority and that there is a suitable time for everything. Also, don’t become the nosy parent, know how to balance between being protective and letting your children know that you trust them.
The writer works at