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How to manage Teenagers?

by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu
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Teenage or adolescence is perhaps the most difficult and turbulent stage in life. Parents and teenagers both often find this stage difficult to handle. Here are some practical Right Parenting tips to understand what exactly is going on teenagers’ minds and bodies; and how parents should manage their teenage children with care and compassion, avoiding conflicts.

Time for Change!

Understand first that Teenage or Adolescence is a time for change. The teenager’s mind and body are changing rapidly. Childhood is over but the adulthood is still away.

Adolescents are neither children nor adults.

The teenagers are going through a major transition. The body size is increasing; body proportions are changing, and secondary sexual characters (breast development in females; facial hair in males; pubic and axillary hair in both sexes) are developing. The external physical changes coupled with internal hormonal changes also bring in new sensitivities and sensibilities. 

These changes foster a feeling of ‘Being Different’ in teenagers. They often express that through different tattoos, hairstyles, clothing fashions or music. Their similar age-group friends now start becoming their main circle. Often, they start feeling alienated from their ‘Old World’ of home, parents and family. They seek more freedom, and start questioning, and even challenging the ‘old’ values and boundaries.

Stressful Anxious Confused Times

The teenagers are prone for anxiety and stress over many areas such as Personal appearance, friendships, relationships, studies, examinations, future career or social media. Fad diets, fast foods, digital games and gadgets overuse, and inadequate sleep, are common issues. Sometimes they may fall into some bad habits like watching porn, smoking, alcohol, drugs.

Parents often are unable to understand these teenage behaviours and it leads to family conflicts and complications. To avoid this fate, see from teenagers’ angle. Balance authority with affection. Set clear limits and boundaries. Encourage warm cohesive family ties and open friendly communication. Listen to their views. Respect their autonomy and privacy. Set a good role model. Offer supportive constructive guidance and not just empty criticism.

Watch for Danger Signs

Be watchful for danger signs such as serious emotional or behavioural changes; falling academic performances; noticeable sleep, appetite, diet or weight changes; or harmful habits or addictions. If the problems are not manageable at family or school level; seek expert guidance immediately.

Take-Home Points

Teenage is a difficult and turbulent stage in life.

Feeling ‘Different’, Detached’ and ‘Disturbed’ is common for teenagers.

They often feel close to friends and alienated from family.

‘Deviant’ unhealthy harmful behaviours may lead to potentially serious physical and psychological problems.

Parents need to handle teenagers flexibly with care and compassion, while understanding their mindset and remaining alert to observing any potential danger signs.

Any serious teenage issues may need expert guidance and intervention.

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