The period of adolescence was very tough for me and I never thought about how I would handle my children in their adolescence phase. I simply figured I would manage the situation when I got there. Fast forward thirty years and there I was, struggling with my son during his adolescence.
He had developed an attitude I just could not understand. My son Jason, who once believed that I could never be wrong suddenly, began behaving as though I could never be right. He complained just about everything during adolescence like why I could not understand him, why I should not and could not do things, why I was troubling and annoying him and so forth. Even through all of this, he was still performing well at school, which was more confusing for me.
As a father, I wanted to help him but I could not figure out what the problem was. After thinking about it for months, I realized that he could not respect me but it was not only the issue of respect, but a combination of several other teen issues including dating, sex, drugs and porn.
No, I was not exactly sure that he was into all of that, but I had heard horror stories of how kids contracted diseases faster than they changed their clothes during their adolescence and I was really worried. Somewhere down the line, I had screwed up, but I was not willing to give up.
My wife suggested that we go see a therapist, but I wanted to try things on my own first. After all, he was my own son, my flesh and blood. I could teach him things, right? If I wanted to help my son, I knew that the internet was there to help me, so I delved into a research about how I could handle my son during adolescence.
I also read several books that were all about adolescence, but it was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers and The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens which helped me put things in perspective. I could help Jason shape up his life by concentrating on a few key areas mentioned in these books that spoke mainly about adolescence.
Here are a few tips that could help your daughter or son in their adolescence period
#1: Take Responsibility – The First Step in Adolescence
It was hard to make Jason understand that he had to take responsibility for his actions. I began by assigning small tasks to him. By putting him in charge of simple aspects of our household life, I was allowing him to experience the consequences of his own actions.
I explained the rules and his role to him. I also told him that he would have to take it seriously and put all his efforts into it. As usual, Jason agreed, but as time passed by, he began to slip. I guess these were just the usual effects of adolescence. For instance, I had made it clear to him that he would baby-sit Jennifer, our 5 year old daughter and even though he had agreed to do it, I had found him lounging at our neighbor’s place when we went back home.
As a result, I removed his PlayStation for a week (yes, I know that was cruel). If I hadn’t done that, Jason would not be able to understand the seriousness of being responsible for one’s actions. He sulked for the entire week but he realized that he was wrong. Moreover, he even apologized for his behavior but what made me happy was that he at least understood where he was going wrong.
#2: Prioritize Things in Life – An Important Stage in Adolescence
The problem with Jason during his adolescence was that he wanted to do a million things, all at once. Sure, he was capable of multitasking, but that only lead to stress and irritation. I wanted to change that first.
Although he was good at school, he wasn’t realizing his potential only due to this problem. He would try to meet friends, read for tests, and practice for games and so on, but he was jumbling everything together.
Once I sat with him, I tried to figure out a way to maintain some balance in his activities. I tried not to make it boring so he wouldn’t stop doing it. First, I made a list of the activities he participated in. I also included a time limit for everything, meaning if he had to turn in a project at school soon, it would make it at the top of the list. Other activities like spending time with family and friends were included too.
I prepared the outline, but it was his duty to fill up the list and follow it. I made it very clear that he would make it his habit. He struggled with it in the beginning, but with my constant reminders, he adjusted to it and even began crossing things off the list whenever he completed them.
This made it easier for him to manage everything and he could also get some free time to do anything else he loved. I also made it a point to see that he never ignored his sleep. It is very important to rest well during the period of adolescence because it would also help in brain development to a large extent.
#3: Set Goals – A Vital Step in Adolescence
Now that Jason was learning to become responsible and prioritize things, I wanted to know what he wanted to do with his life. Most importantly, he had to set his goals himself. Sure, I could guide him but it would be his decision ultimately. He also had to develop confidence that he was capable of achieving almost anything he set his mind on.
I started by talking to him about what he wanted. Gradually, our small talk turned into full fledged conversations and surprisingly, Jason was enjoying it too. He sensed that I would support him with his dreams, no matter what they were and that is probably the only thing he needed to know and hear from me.
I had underestimated his thinking and was probably too quick to judge that he wasn’t serious about his life, and his goals proved me wrong.
We spoke about what was important to him on a personal as well as a professional level. He wanted to choose something that would make him comfortable. He also told me that he was confused between becoming a basketball player and a doctor. I smiled inwardly because I was confused during my adolescent years too.
First off, I told him that it was okay to be confused because everything would be sorted by itself over time. So we made a list that consisted of both short-term and log-term goals. He could concentrate on achieving goals that were first in his priority.
For instance, he could become either a basket ball player or a doctor, but he would have to choose a good college first. He still had about two years to join college and I was pretty sure that he would be confident at the end of it. Most importantly, I told him to set realistic goals in order to attain success. I was definitely not hinting that he was incapable of doing certain things, but it was also essential to be realistic.
Once Jason realized that it was perfectly normal to be confused, he began to relax. I had not realized it until then, but it dawned on me that the poor boy was probably under too much pressure. With technology growing at such a fast pace, it was difficult for even kids to adjust to everything. If I wanted to make any progress with my son, I knew I had to take it slow.
#4: Talk About Sex – An Awkward Part in Adolescence
My parents had never spoken to me about sex when I was a teenager. Back then, everything was so simple and it was assumed that we would make the right decisions when it came to our sexual endeavors. However, as more teenagers were exposed to pornography, it was important for me to have a discussion with Jason. I knew it would be awkward, but I had to do it.
I was also aware that he would be experiencing several changes both mentally and physically. I knew that many kids felt the urge to have intercourse at adolescence age. I would make it easier for Jason to deal with all those issues, but he would not talk about it. I was no expert in making small talk about sex, so instead of wondering how to do it, I just started talking.
Jason was definitely surprised and ignored me, but once I told him that it was normal to feel the urge, I got his attention. I didn’t want to embarrass him by telling him that I had seen some porn files on his computer, but I wanted to make him understand the difference between fantasy and reality. The key was to make him realize that there was an enormous difference between porn and real life.
After we began talking, there was no stopping me. Man, was I on a roll! It was awkward for him in the beginning, but as I began talking about pregnancy and birth control, he listened to me intently. I wanted him to know that sex is not child’s play and that there were a lot of feelings and consequences involved. If he could not take the responsibility for his actions, then it was better for him to stay away from it. It was also important to stress that he did not have to have just intercourse to look ‘cool’ in school.
I had to stress on another important point – exaggeration. Many people think that a majority of teenagers have sex, but that really isn’t true. I told Jason that he could wait for the right person to take that step. Also, sex awareness was not only about diseases, it was also about relationships and feelings. I knew that I could only talk to him, but could not force him to take decisions. However, I was glad that I did my best and it was up to Jason to learn more sex as he grew up.
#5: Understanding a Parent’s Difficulty – An Adolescent’s Duty
Finally, it was time for me to make him look at things from my point of view. If he could discern how difficult it was for parents to raise children, he would probably communicate in a better manner. It was important for him to respect his parents and if he couldn’t learn that, he wouldn’t be able to gain anything in life.
This, of course, was only my opinion but I really think that teenagers become wonderful adults when they learn true values in life. If my son couldn’t respect his mother, I didn’t think he would have a chance with other women.
It was not only about respecting us, but it was about respecting others too. If my son continued with his arrogant attitude, he would most likely not be able to survive later on in life. Thus, I knew that I had to correct this problem as soon as possible.
Jason learnt to first listen to me. He also understood that we sacrificed a lot as parents to raise him. After talking to him about respect and values, he realized that these attributes were imperative to lead a good life and become a good human being. I’m not saying that he turned into a saint overnight, but he gradually learnt to respect people around him.
If you’re trying to change your teenage son or daughter’s behavior, it is very important to understand what your kid wants during adolescence. As our kids grow up, they undergo a lot of changes and it also makes things very difficult for them. The pressure to exceed in school and other activities could be very irritating for an individual in adolescence. Once you understand your kids, they will also be able to understand you as a parent.
As parents, we are instrumental to help shape his life and steer it into a good direction, but it was his efforts and determination that paid off. If you want to make your children successful, you must be able to make them understand certain values in life.
Next time you’re worried about your kid, sit and talk to him/her and sort things out. Your child needs you and if you help him, you’ll be glad you did it. Adolescence can be brutal in many ways to parents, but it isn’t impossible to deal with it.
Do you have children who are going through adolescence? What do you do to deal with their problems during their periods of adolescence? Let us know your story today!