Spending time with your adolescent child
Spending time together is a good way of building up communication. Here are some suggestions of the “do’s” and “don’ts” when you spend time together:
- Set aside some “formal” time that is diarised so that it will not be replaced by other activities or distractions.
- Use as much “informal” time as possible, such as the time spent driving together in the car or during mealtimes.
- Listen more and talk less.
- Engage in the activity that your child prefers.
- Avoid an interrogative style of questioning.
- Give verbal feedback about their positive behaviour.
- Avoid harsh criticism.
- Do not bring up past problems constantly.
- Express your positive emotions to your child.
- Be conscious about building your child’s self-esteem. (Refer to the online product “Building your child’s self-esteem”)
Dealing with your own issues
Depending on your own childhood history, you may have certain unresolved developmental issues that impinge upon your relationship with your child. For example:
A woman, who was brought up in a family where her own parents did not value her, finds that she cannot be positive towards her adolescent daughter. In this case, the woman sees herself in her own daughter. She is projecting her own feeling of unworthiness onto her daughter and finds it difficult to relate to her daughter in a positive fashion.
A man who was brought up by a distant, aloof and harsh father is over permissive towards his son. In this case, the man is over compensating by living his childhood again through his son. He is not enforcing a firm boundary on his son because his father imposed too rigid a boundary on him.
In both the above examples, the respective parents need to deal with their issues before they can foster effective communication with their children.
Sometimes, parents may have their own assumptions about their adolescent children. This is not an uncommon problem. As the child grows from infancy to adolescence, the parents may develop certain ideas into which they pigeonhole the adolescent child. For example, some parents may regard their child to be a lazy, angry, gifted or placid child despite the contrary. The parents continue to relate to the child as though he/she has not changed. This is most unhelpful. It hinders proper communication between the parents and the child.
So, invest in your child’s life by building up the communication between your child and yourself. Learn to enjoy your child and remember to build a relationship with your child. Act now and do something differently!