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 Psychological & Emotional Health

October 2010
Teen Trouble or Troubled Teen?
A Troublesome age…
Farrah Chinnoy
Parenting is tough! Make no mistake about that, but there are a few things one must keep in mind to help the child grow into an adult. The most daunting time in a child’s life is adolescence. This is the cusp of a child being an adult. They don’t belong to the world of fantasy, nor are they ready to go face the real world.

Mistakes Parents Make with Teens

Lecture rather than discuss

We want our teens to grow into responsible adults who are able to make decisions. Why then do we fall back on the old lecture, when we should be using any problem area as an opportunity to teach the child the process of making a good decision? This is not to say, they no longer need guidance, it just has to be handled in a more adult manner, with discussion, negotiation, and understanding of the conflicting needs of maturing teens.

Ignore the obvious

Your teen is suddenly sleeping late, missing classes, missing curfew, not introducing new friends, and we write it off as "normal teen behaviour."  Never assume! Just because grades are good, does not mean everything is okay with your child. Just because they do not confide in you with problems, does not mean they do not have any. Just because they do not seek you out to talk, does not mean they do not want to. It is important to talk to your kids and really spend time with them, to get to know them.

Not following through on rules and consequences

"You are grounded!" "That's it – no allowance this week!" Most parents have no problem creating punishments for breaking the rules. It's what happens a few days or so later, that creates the cycle of defiance: your teen drives you nuts until you back down on the consequences. If you set a rule, it is important to make clear in advance, the consequences for breaking that rule. If that rule is broken, and if you do not enforce the consequences you set, your teen has just learned that getting away with breaking the rules is really a piece of cake. Set expectations that allow the child to succeed, based on his or her abilities.

Pointing out only the negative, expecting only the positive

Some parents believe a job well done, is its own reward. While this is true, there is nothing that encourages a child more, than the positive feedback of a parent. This is not to say, you should jump up and down with joy just because your child didn't skip class this week. If you set consequences for bad behaviour, the reward is getting to do the things they normally enjoy.

Leaving the educating up to "Someone Else"
Assuming your child will learn about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviours at school or elsewhere, is a risky assumption at best. Studies have shown that kids whose parents talk to them about high-risk behaviours and who set clear guidelines about the consequences for engaging in these behaviours, are less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, or have sex.

Giving up on family time
Setting time aside every day, for the family to eat together and talk, is one of the best defenses against negative peer influences on your teens. Make time for your children on a daily basis, to keep communication open. Parents who spend time with their children will be more aware of changes in their demeanor and behaviour.


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