Is your child soon ready to hit the 'teen' phase? Are you worrying how to maintain a balance between your teen's need for independence and your concerns about safety? Are you finding it hard to find a middle path where both you and your teen agree? Do you want to ensure your teen grows up to become an independent adult?
Do you think it is a good idea to help your teen become independent even through these crucial years?
Parenting a teen is undoubtedly one of the hardest challenges of being a parent. If you are already struggling, or worried about the approaching teenage years and providing independent living for teens, and if you are not sure how to help your teen along his journey to independence, read on to know about eleven simple tips for helping them to become an independent teens.
As your child enters the teenage years, he will ask for more and more independence. You will see his need for independence in small activities and even in simple routines of day to day life. This is the time when your teen will start understanding more about the adult world and how it feels to take responsibility.
This is also the time when your teen is most prone to getting into risky behavior. Trying to find a balance between independence and safety is often a challenge. This is the time when teenage independence comes into focus. Here are a few pointers that can help maintain the relationship between independence and safety, keeping both your teen and you happy and safe -
Show your teen that you love and support him: This is one of the main pointers that will help you through the teenage years of your child. At this age, your teen will shy away from all acts of physical love and public display of parental love. But there are other ways to show you care.
* Be interested in what your teen is doing.
* Show an interest in your teen's friends.
* Show an interest in the hobbies and activities that interest your teen.
* Be a good listener.
* Give advice when you feel your teen is confused, but do it in a light and non-preachy way.
* Tell your child that you love him. Try and say it as many times and at as many instances as you can.
* Give your teen his privacy but make sure you include him in family activities and seek his opinion too.
* Don't be judgmental or opinionated.
* Do not ridicule your teen in front of anyone else.
* By doing all this you will help make your teen self-confident and happy. This will in turn make your teen more responsible.
Respect your teen's emotions and needs: Your teen may not be an adult but that does not mean you don't need to respect him. It is important to remember that during the teenage years, your child will be facing a lot of emotional, physical and psychological turmoil. This means that your teen will be confused, anxious and angry a lot of the time. But this is entirely natural and a part of growing up.
* Respect your teen by hearing him out.
* Let him feel valued by listening to his opinions or asking him about his views on important family matters. You don't always have to do exactly what he says, but you should definitely give him a chance to share his views too.
* This will also be a good way to show your teen that there may be differing views but there is still a way of reaching a conclusion that can work for all.
* This is also a good way to be interactive with your teen. Your teen will feel respected and loved. This will encourage your teen to speak with you in an honest and fearless way.
Privacy and safety concerns: When your child hits the teen years, it is natural for him to feel the need for his own space. Even the smallest thing you do may feel like overbearing to your teen. This is a time when you need to make it very clear about what is allowed and what is not acceptable.
* Setting some family rules at this stage will be helpful for your teen, as he will know what is expected. It is important you are fair while creating these rules. While imposing a curfew past ten pm is understandable, asking your teen to be home by seven pm each night may not be a good idea.
* Set the rules for driving. Tell your teen that you are okay with him driving once he has his driver's license. But be sure to tell your teen that speaking on the phone, texting or driving under the influence of alcohol will not be acceptable behavior.
Understand he is not a child anymore: As a parent, you may feel your teenager is still a child, but that does not mean the world will see him as one.
* Tell your teenager that the first step towards becoming independent is to realize that he is not a child anymore. It is wrong for your teen to expect that people will treat him as a child.
* Tell him to start behaving more like a mature adult if he wants people to take him more seriously.
How to do it: Tell him to know how people treat an adult and expect the same.
Let your teen do things that will help him gain trust: If you want your teen to be independent, help him become more responsible and win the trust of people.
* Teach your teen that to be independent, it is important first to gain the trust of his peers and adults. To do so, your teen needs to act more responsibly.
* Once people see that they can trust your teen, they will give him a responsibility to handle independently.
How to do it: Ask your teen to follow your rules, always keep you informed about where he is and make it a habit to listen to his elders.
Let your teen start doing things on his own: If your teen wants to be independent, there are many or most things he will have to do on his own.
* Tell him he is old enough to take care of certain basic things. Let him help you where he can and do things on his own.
* He can ask for your help, but let him start taking the initiative.
How to do it: Tell him to make a meal at home, look after the plants, opt to do the family grocery shopping on the weekends.
Teach him to be safe: One of the biggest fears that you may have as a parent about your teen's sudden independence is his safety.
* Ask your teen to enroll in a self-defense class. Once your teen knows how to defend himself in any potential danger, it will be easier for him to be independent.
* Teach your teen the importance of being safe no matter how sure he is of his self-defense skills. As a safety measure, tell him that he should avoid going to places that are not safe. He should also avoid going out with people, friends or strangers with whom he is not comfortable.
How to do it: Ask him to avoid taking lifts from strangers or going to house parties where he does not personally know the hosts.
Your teen should know whom to call in distress: Your teen needs to know about all the help numbers he can call for assistance when he is in danger or needs help.
* Encourage your teen to maintain a small diary with all important numbers jotted down. It is important to keep a directory handy in the case of emergencies.
* Your teen should know where the closest police station and hospital are and how to reach there in an emergency.
How to do it: Take your teen along to the police station and hospital to know how to contact them for emergency assistance.
The writer is an online activist & contributor at -------------Debolina Raja
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