Teenage years are the most angst-filled years. A child is stepping into adulthood and is confused over a lot of things. They are torn between adulthood and being a child, they are trying to explore, and find an identity. There are physical and emotional changes happening simultaneously. Children in this age bracket are always agitated, don’t want to listen and are at loggerheads with their parents. They want to be left alone and are continuously glued to their phones. They feel their parents don’t understand anything and it’s their friends who recognise their inner turmoil.
For any parent, their child will always be their baby. However, parents need to realise that their child is growing up and has become a teenager.
From my experience I would say it is a phase that shall pass. Stay calm and don’t become aggressive.
My daughter is a 12-year-old pre-teen. In the beginning, I didn’t understand what she was going through, rather still is. She is exploring and has mood swings. When the phase started, I used to feel disheartened, but now I know what the problem is.
Parents want the best for their children. But, parents also need to learn to face rejection. If your child is saying ‘no’, temporarily take a step back and try again a little later after. They have their likings and preferences. I treat it as a phase which will pass. Communication is crucial here. Don’t baby them or talk to them the way you did during their childhood. Talk to them in a language they understand, or use their cool, teenage lingo if you can. Give them the freedom to figure out their lives. For example, even smallest of things like clothes — don’t force them to wear the same clothes they were wearing five years ago because maybe they don’t want to wear those. Or, they don’t want to carry the same school bag because for them it’s too childish.
A year ago, I saw a cute, pink bag which I wanted to buy for my daughter and I showed it to her. And, she went: ‘I’m a preteen. I can’t be carrying this pink colour any more. I am not a baby.’ That was a setback for me. I then started opting for neutral colours where she doesn’t feel too conscious. I know what she wants, her preferences, her likings, everything, and I respect that.
Whether it is their food choices, clothes, or even friends for that matter. Friends they once had and played with every day, are not the same as their thinking has changed. So they want to make new friends. Which is okay. Don’t push them to have the same friends they were once best friends with. Let them take control of their lives.
Welcome the change and, respect it — you give respect, you get respect. Don’t bully your child. Your child is not going to listen. However, if you are certain that your child is doing something wrong, put your foot down. You are the parent and not a friend. You can be as cool as you want, give as much freedom, but you are still the parent. In a gentle tone explain what they did wrong.
Don’t get agitated if they are rude. I know it’s hurtful but understand they are going through changes. Don’t punish them because then they will become rebellious. I used to take my daughter’s iPad if she misbehaved. But that didn’t work as for the first two-three days things would change, but then it would be back to square one. Instead, teach them through examples. Share experiences of your teenage years. Explain how their grandparents behaved with you.
Parenting can’t be generalised. Every parent has his/her unique way of dealing with their children. While certain universal problems remain the same, their solutions differ from parent to parent. The way I ‘parent’ my daughter need not be the same as another parent and vice-versa. I am always learning from people around me and these are just a few of my experiences with my daughter. I am sure every parent has his/her own story to tell!
(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a fashion and jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)
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