How to handle teenagers, a guideline from Psychologist Munira Soni

Handling teenagers have always been scary and these days with multiple exposures and different problems than what our parents had to handle, it is a big challenge for many parents.

The Millenials are different from the Xenellials, and so are their problems. Psychologist Munira Soni from Mannheal, will help you understand a few teenage problems and how to handle them.

How do you ensure that you keep an effective communication with your teenager children?

Good communication with your teenager is one of the foundations of good parenting. It is even more important in stressful situations, such as what your family is going through. As children become adolescents, they normally get more involved with peers and talk less to parents. Less communication with parents can be a normal part of establishing independence.  Teenagers still want and need to communicate with their parents, feel close to their parents, and be able to turn to their parents when they have problems or when they need to talk.

Listening is the single best thing you can do to establish good communication. Listening sounds simple, but often isn’t.

Let your teenager finish his thoughts.

Let him tell the whole story.

Don’t try to immediately fix the situation.

Remember that listening doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with everything he/she says.

Sometimes they just need to talk and know that you care enough to try to understand. You don’t have to interrupt, agree or disagree, or come up with an immediate solution to his problems. For starters, you just have to listen. Following are some simple listening rules.

Pay Attention

Try to focus on what your teen is saying, rather than thinking about what you want to say back. Stop what you are doing, if you need to, in order to pay attention. Get rid of distractions so that you can listen well.

Repeat from Time to Time

Sometimes you can restate things your teenager has said in order to make sure you’ve got it right. This helps you understand, and also shows that you are listening. Be careful not to jump to conclusions when you repeat. This act also reflects Show good listening skills on behalf of the parent.

Ask Questions Occasionally

Asking occasional questions shows you are listening and interested. Be careful not to ask too many questions or to take over the conversation with questions.

Listen without judging

When your teenager is talking to you about a concern or a problem, try not to judge or criticize him while you are in “listening mode.” Listen first. Hold your opinions until later, after your adolescent has finished.

Be Understanding

Show that you are trying to understand how your teen feels. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with what your teenager is saying, it is still helpful to put yourself in your teen’s shoes and communicate that you understand how he or she feels.

Use “Door Openers” Rather Than “Door Closers” in Communicating

Door Openers – Encourages your teen to talk openly.

“Tell me what happened.” “What do you think is the right thing to do?” “How do you feel about that?” “What happened next?” “That’s a good question.”

Door Closers – Makes your teen reluctant to open up.

“I don’t want to hear that kind of talk.” “So what?” “I’ll tell you what you ought to do…” “Why are you asking me?” “Don’t come crying to me if you end up in a mess.”

How do you say No to a teenager, politely, without creating a rift between parents and children ?

No’ is one of the most important words you can say to your child. It’s a tiny word, but for many people, particularly parents, it can prove incredibly difficult to say. Many of us avoid using the word because we are afraid that it will put us into conflict with someone else, or believing that saying it will somehow change how others view us. Research has found that many parents avoid battles with their children, because they feel that if they say ‘no’ to them, they will stop loving them.

Parents need to remember the following rationale behind saying ‘no’, as well as be absolutely clear about what may happen next and how best to respond. Adolescence is a time when young people work out where they fit in the world. It is also a time where they are more likely to take risks. parents need to set limits for teens to push against, as well as to keep them safe as possible ‘no’ provides limits and sets boundaries

You cannot control how your child feels about these limits or how they react to them so don’t even bother to try, you are only able to control yourself and your behavior. remember that the only reason you have rules is because you love them – make that clear and then walk away

No child likes being told that they can’t do or have something they want. This gets worse when they become adolescents as in their minds they are now far more grown up and should be able to take part in adult activity that they observe all around them.

As I have already said, just saying ‘no’ for the sake of it is just as damaging as letting your teen run off and do whatever they want. Every opportunity you get to allow them to extend themselves a little, which you believe to be as safe as possible, and doesn’t compromise your values and beliefs, grab it with both hands! Always remember, for every ‘no’ you say, you’re going to lose a few points as far as your teen is concerned, but if you say ‘yes’ you can be sure you’ll earn yourself at least a few extra credits! Now before anyone says that parenting isn’t about ‘point-scoring’, I couldn’t agree more, but I haven’t met a Mum or Dad who doesn’t say that it sure helps …

Most teens who hear ‘no’ from their parents won’t like it very much. They’re likely to respond in an emotional way and, as a result, it won’t be very pleasant around the house for a day or two.

Should parents let their teenagers take their own decisions or still take decisions on behalf of them ?

Parents can support teens by recognizing that risk-taking is a necessary and important part of development. But if it seems like your teens are taking unsafe risks or making rash decisions, parents should be the voice of reason. Help them weigh the pros and cons of their actions and support them to think through consequences before acting. Part of a parent’s role is to provide checks and balances as teen brains continue to mature and while life is teaching them valuable lessons.

As parents guide teens through the twists and turns of adolescence, it is important to understand that individual differences account for much of how decisions are made. Some teens will take more risks during their adolescence, and they may remain risk-seekers throughout their adult lives. On the other hand, some teens may prefer the more cautious route. The differences between people can sometimes tell us more about patterns of decision-making than differences between age groups. Think about who your teen is as an individual.  And keep in mind that all teens need an extra moment for the logic center in their brain to do its job.

It is key to remain calm as we guide teens. The goal is to create a setting where teens can calmly think things through. When in a calm state, teens’ decision-making abilities are very impressive.  When in a “hot” or “reactive” state, they find it much more difficult to engage the logical part of their brain. This is true for all of us but is particularly true for adolescents.

We must remember to honor our teens’ intelligence — they are capable and competent learners. And with your guidance, they can make decisions that will help them become thriving adults. When teens make decisions that put them at risk, it is because their brains are undergoing the natural growth necessary to reach adulthood. Those decisions help them learn tough lessons, build character, and gain life experience. It is the parents’ role to guide them to make wise decisions, take healthy risks, learn from mistakes, and to set the boundaries that ensure they remain within safe territory.

With the teenagers and parents having a busy schedule throughout the day, how do you ensure that you spend quality family time with each other?

Teens really want adults to help shape their views about the world. They want adults to spend time with them and to tell them about the world and how it works.It’s a fact – teens don’t want to end their relationships with their parents as they grow older. They just want them to change as they grow. Spending quality time with their parents is one of teens’ biggest priorities – but they can’t do it alone.

It is really easy as a parent to get caught up in work issues, money issues and everything else that parents and families have to deal with on a daily basis. It is important, however, to remember to spend quality time with your teen and have meaningful conversations.

Be involved in something that your teen is involved in, even if it is just being a fan at their games. This will give you a common topic to talk about.Also, families that never spend any time together have a harder time communicating with each other. Get creative about scheduling family time.

Make it fun.

Though you may have younger kids, try and do something everyone will love. It is ok to leave your teenager at home if they really don’t want to do something like going to a play centre.

Encourage your kids to cook together.

Encouraging your kids to cook together and meal-plan is great for easy and regular family time. It gives everyone an opportunity to spend time together and most teenagers love nothing more than learning about food and how to cook it.

Watch movies together.

Watching movies is another thing that teenagers like doing and if you can get them to the cinema; even better!

Go for dinner or grab a coffee together.

Often teenagers love sitting and ‘chillin’ for a while as it gives them time to relax. Other things that encourage your teen to spend time with family is having breakfast together, eating dinner and having technology-free times to talk to one another.

Work together as a family.

Get working on things together and get all the family to paint, declutter and do some household chores as families who help each other are more likely to have better relationships.

Don’t be overwhelming as teenagers do need their space too and if they try to spend time with family be sure to allow them some privacy and time to see their friends. A lot of ‘give and take’ means your teenager will understand the need to spend time with family while being gifted their own time to do what they like with friends.

How to introduce the topic of safe sex to children ? Should both parents do it together or just one parent ?

While it’s important to understand various aspects of your teen’s sexual behavior, it’s equally important to have good communication with him about sex and sexuality in general. Accurate information about sexual behavior and open communication on the topic is important for all teenagers, that is, youth who have and youth who have not had illegal sexual behavior.

Communication that is in line with and supports your values is equally critical. Studies have shown that most teenagers learn more about sex and sexuality from peers and from the media than from their parents. Studies also show that teens would like to be able to talk with their parents about sexual topics. Being able to provide good information and to commu-nicate appropriately on sexual topics is helpful to all families, especially those in which sexual behavior has been problematic.

Many parents are uncomfortable talking with their children about sex. They think that teenagers should not be having sex and that talking about sex gives the wrong message. Some believe that sex should only take place within a marriage. But the reality in our society is that many teens are sexually active. They are being bombarded with messages about sex and sexuality from their peers and from the media. Given this reality, it is important for parents to openly discuss sex, sexuality, and relationship decisions with their children as appropriate to each child’s level of understanding and to frame these discussions within their own beliefs and values.

It is important that parents help their children acquire accurate information and form healthy values and attitudes about sexual behavior. 

How to tell children politely about the vices in our society, without scaring them or making them feel overwhelmed ?

Raising a child with proper manners takes effort. With today’s society dripping with temptation almost everywhere, establishing a morally upright background can be tough. There is a gap in communication between parents and children, it is hard for young people to get into deep conversations on these issues with their parents because parents may not be knowledgeable, or their attitude is always tough disciplinary measures. This makes children distant from their parents. So, be the first to bring up the difficult topic. When parents tackle difficult conversations, they let their children know that they are available and supportive. It is OK to acknowledge your feelings with your children. They see you are human. They also get a chance to see that even though upset, you can pull yourself together and continue on. 

Parents hear it often:

*Be a role model. This applies to emotions, too.

* Lay out the facts at a level they can understand. You do not need to give graphic details.

* At the end of the conversation, reassure your children that you will do everything you know how to do to keep them safe and to watch out for them. Reassure them that you will be available to answer any questions or talk about this topic again in the future. Reassure them that they are loved.

How do you help your children in making them learn to take their own decisions ?

Though my kids are still in the toddler age group, but I can reflect on this based on the parenting I have received & also from professional learnings.

As a parent, you can take steps to help your teen make good decisions while keeping in mind that bad decisions are going to be part for the course of adolescence. Here are some ways that you can help your teen while still letting them maintain some autonomy when it comes to making the types of choices that they’ll continue to make once they are no longer living in your home.

 Look at Issues from Your Teen’s Perspective. Because you have decades of experience, there are some decisions that seem like no-brainers to you and might be frustrating when your teenager chooses the opposite path. It can be helpful to talk to your teen without judgement to help determine what their perspective is (or was).

 Choose a time when your teen is relaxed, and just chat about the situation. Do you have a plan in mind for when you will get the studying done?” Approaching it in this way can encourage your teen to think ahead and make good decisions. It can also bring you peace of mind because maybe he or she really does have a plan.

Brainstorm All Options and Decide on One

If a decision needs to be made and your adolescent doesn’t know how to handle it (or is about to handle it poorly), one way to help them make good decisions is to help them brainstorm all their options. Take some time to sit down and make a list with your teen. He or she might make some offbeat or illogical suggestions; don’t judge them yet. Just write them down so you can evaluate them together. Add some of your own suggestions, too, while keeping an open mind that none of your ideas might be acceptable to your teen.

 Once you have both been able to suggest several ways to handle the upcoming situation (or better ways to handle a situation that was handled poorly), choose the best one together. It might be that you disagree on which is the best option. If your teen’s safety isn’t going to be at risk, it’s usually best to let him or her make the final decision, if possible. It might also work to have Plan A and Plan B, with your child’s first choice as Plan A. If that doesn’t work, he or she can then move along to try Plan B.

 Check In and Remind Your Teen of the Decision

 Once a decision has been made on how to handle the situation, it’s important to hold your teen accountable. If he or she says that they will go out with their friend during the week and catch up on studying on the weekends, hold them to it. Treat the decision like a commitment and encourage your teen to do the same. This is an important step with young teenagers or those who don’t have a lot of decision-making experience yet.

 Once your teen is older and getting closer to adulthood, you should not have to check in as much. If your older teen is still having trouble sticking with decisions, however, then this is something you might need to continue to work on.

  Let Your Teen Make Mistakes

 One hard part of parenting is letting teens make mistakes. By letting them experience the natural consequences of their poor decisions early in the teen years, you can encourage them to make good decisions later, when the stakes are likely higher. A young teen who finds that his or her friend is angry about being dropped for a romantic interest will learn more from that situation than they’d learn from you lecturing them about how to be a good friend. A teen who gets a bad grade on an important test after blowing off studying will be getting an education in more than biology, algebra, or whatever subject they bombed.

 Obviously, this does not apply to life-or-death situations or to those that have a likelihood of impacting your adolescent’s life in the future. For example, try your best not to let your 16-year-old drop out of high school, don’t allow them to experiment with drugs on your watch, and strongly encourage your teen to wait on sex or to use reliable birth control

How to ensure cyber safety of teenagers, both boys and girls ? Like telling them the harm about cyber crime etc.

Teenagers use digital technologies for everyday activities like keeping in touch with friends on social media, relaxing and doing schoolwork. They also go online to look for support for physical or mental health problems, and sometimes to experiment with different ways of expressing themselves.

Because they’re online so much without your supervision, teenagers need to be able to identify acceptable and unacceptable online content independently. They also need to know how to behave respectfully online and avoid online risks.

Your child is probably an independent internet user now, but you can help her keep building the skills and knowledge she needs to identify and manage internet safety risks.

Here are some basic things you can do to protect your child from internet safety risks:

Create a family media plan. It’s best to negotiate your plan with your child. Your plan could cover things like screen-free areas in your house and what online behaviour is OK.

Talk with your child about upsetting and inappropriate content. If you can talk with him in an open and non-judgmental way, he’s more likely to talk with you if he comes across something disturbing online or has a bad online experience.

Stay in touch with what your child is doing online and how much time she’s spending online. This will help you to spot when your child might be having problems.

Ask your child to ‘friend’ you on social media. Younger teenagers might be OK with this, but older teenagers might prefer not to friend you.

Encourage and remind your child to explore and use the internet safely – for example, it’s OK to remind him to check his privacy settings.

Find out how to make complaints about offensive or illegal online content.

Technical internet safety tools like internet filters can actually increase risk for children over 14 years. If children are using filters at this age, they might not be developing the skills they need to avoid disturbing content. They might take risks either accidentally or on purpose when they use the internet in unfiltered environments.

It’s important to help your teenage child manage internet safety risks for herself. This lets your child build digital resilience, which is the ability to respond positively and deal with risks she comes across online.

You can do this by:

being a role model for healthy internet use

talking with your child about online content and behaviour

reminding your child about privacy and personal information

teaching your child about online purchases.

It’s all about trusting your child to become a responsible digital citizen.

Should teenagers be financially independent ?

Raising a financially responsible teen will help your child avoid many of the mistakes that are plaguing so many young adults today. By giving your teenager the money skills they need to excel in today’s society; you are giving them a gift that will benefit them their entire life.

Parents need to be extremely proactive about the child’s first job experience if they want it to fit into a bigger strategy of talking about money. A first step is to set appropriate expectations at the beginning by initiating the discussion on what the child’s thoughts are regarding their earnings.  This part of the process requires active listening on the parents’ part. Financial independence and responsibility can take years to become comfortable with, but introducing your kids to these concepts at an early age is always a good idea. Ideally, we want our kids to understand the importance of money management early on rather than later in life when the stakes are higher.

I recommend having conversations with your kids where they can ask questions about money management. “As parents, be supportive of your children and [encourage] having an open dialogue. “And telling the truth about money. Money can be really positively powerful, or it can be hugely negatively powerful. By helping them to develop these skills you’re giving them a head start to achieving the freedom of not having to worry about money.

You can help your child achieve financial independence at a young age by giving them the skills necessary to go out and make it in the real world.

How do you tell your child the difference between so called true love and infatuation. A lot of children get misled under infatuation as true love and this causes a lot of rift between parents and children.

These days it isnt unusual for young children (even in fifth or sixth grade) to fall in ‘love’ and have romantic partners. If you have managed to keep the communication open and built trust and security around your child, you might end up being her confidant too, even when she’s a teenager. As a parent, you know that even teenage isn t the right age or an interest that your child should indulge in. But you cannot say that on her face. Most of the time, infatuation (that children term as love) is a sudden urge for appreciation from others due to lack of internal satisfaction or appreciation from their efforts from adults.

Rejection hits innocent minds more than it does the adults.

So beware, and decide when it is the right time to talk to your child about knowing the difference between infatuation and love. This will save her from the wounds of rejection, in case she has to face one. However, it is important that you know the differences yourself. If not, try this simple approach: tell your child that love is when you don t expect a thing in return of your feelings. Infatuation is when you want to control and expect the person to behave just the way you want him/her too, and that is bad. It takes ages for an adult to understand this difference, so it isn t going to be any easier for your child.

But don’t give up, talk, talk and talk. Talk about love, stories that portray selfless love and invest time and energy in things where your child needs improvements be it maths, elocution or dance. Triumphing over her weakness or improving her skills will gradually help her to introspect feelings and be more self-accepting. So be very sure that all your actions (even the punishments that you give) mimic love. Parental love is the security children bank on to grow, develop and evolve as emotional beings. So love beyond reasons and love to the fullest.

If you would like to consult Ms. Munira, the following are her Contact details.

Contact Details of Munira Soni

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10 thoughts on “How to handle teenagers, a guideline from Psychologist Munira Soni

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