It may interest you to know that the most important thing in the life of a teen is not rules, knowledge, or possessions. It is relationships! Our young ones need to feel they belong somewhere, to feel accepted and loved by someone.
Is it not ironic, that your sweet baby has suddenly started to prefer secrecy in his/her dealing with you? He/she has began to enjoy more time alone or with friends than with you. it could be dis-heartening that, tried as you have, your child wouldn’t talk to you. Most parents are puzzled and couldn’t seem to have a grasp of why or how this has come to be the case. Some parents try to intervene by establishing doctrines, rules, instructions and guidelines with the hope to turn things around. Others tend to engage the attention of their wards by giving gifts, all to no avail.
It may interest you to know that the most important thing in the life of a teen is not rules, knowledge, or possessions. It is relationships! Our young ones need to feel they belong somewhere, to feel accepted and loved by someone. Don’t be surprised that peers and social media exert more influence on your teenager than you. It is because they get those feelings satisfied from those sources other than from you.
"But I’m trying to build relationship" , you said, "all my effort is because of my child, and I’ve always tried to be friendly, I don’t know why things are turning out contrary".
That could be true, just as it is of most parents. More-so, because you know certain changes have started to take place. You know that the moral foundation of your child is gradually being eroded by external influences like peer pressure, electronic & social media and globalization. Social issues, such as sexuality, alcohol/drug usage, fraternity, school pressure, pornography, bullying and others are beginning to challenge your laudable upbringing of your child. You suddenly became aware of this and surprised that more concerted effort is still required of you.
Your teenage child requires a robust relationship with you for him/her to be able to open up to you on personal matters (like sexuality, school pressure, fraternity, drug usage, pornography, etc.), not haphazard, reactionary intervention. Then, how would you maintain such ingenious, robust and deep relationship with them? Consider the following tips.
- Your Unwavering Acceptance
Genetically, your child is always your child, no matter what happens. Each child needs to be convinced in their emotion, that irrespective of what they do or don’t do, they are love and accepted. If you affirm them only when they perform well but on the occasion of their failure to meet expectation, you temporarily withdraw acceptance, they will loose faith in you. It shows that your acceptance of them is performance-based. Only unconditional acceptance can engender the trust required for building a vibrant relationship. You can establish this by habitually rewarding or praising their efforts and resilience rather than their success.
For instance, if you accompany your child to watch his favourite movie at the end of their school session, let it not be as a reward for their success but more importantly because of their effort throughout the session. So your teenager knows that, even if he/she is not among the top four, he/she is still loved and appreciated. Also, be wary of the way you talk about other kids in the presence of your child. If you condemn others about things you would not criticize your child for, that is tantamount to hypocrisy. It’s a negation on the supposed genuine acceptance that we are talking about. Parent’s unwavering acceptance makes teenagers feel secured.
- Sincerely Praise Your Child
- Do not waste the opportunity to immediately acknowledge and praise your child for saying or doing something good. If you think that it’s difficult to find them doing a lot of good, I suspect you are a fault finder. But it’s more rewarding to be a good finder. Deliberately catch them doing or saying the right thing and quickly praise them. You will definitely see what you want to see. And what you reinforce tends to multiply. That is why no parent has been able to make a headway by always pointing out what a child does wrong. Make a turn today, start to point out what they do right, matter how small or few and part them in the back. Ensure you are sincere in doing so, because children can easily detect insincerity. By sincerely praising your child this way, you give them a sense of significance.
- Genuine Show of Affection
When last did you hug your teenage child, or kiss, shoulder pat, and head stroke them, or simply say to them, "I love you?" Remember how you do a lot of these when your child was still a toddler? What made you feel they no longer need it? The truth is, your teenage child needs a lot of show of affection, they flourish in it. And if they are not getting it at home, they’ll get it elsewhere. That’s exposure! You could also show affection by having fun with them, enjoying their company, playing with them. One of the things teenagers dread most is loneliness. The feeling of being without love misleads most teenagers to believe that sex leads to love. Though they have access to loads of knowledge and more rapid physical development, their emotional maturity is at the speed of snail.
So they need dad and mum to show them genuine affection, which is not equivalent to sex as the society makes them to believe. If a child feels assured that mum and dad love him/her, that creates the thinking that they are lovable to others. That assurance graduates into confidence, which is essential to a child’s self esteem and the ability to have healthy relationships outside the family.
- Make Yourself Available
Have you stopped to think, that you will always have busy schedule – job, meetings, projects, deadlines, and so on – but you will not always have your child needing your attention? Their interruption is only for a while and its one of the major needs of their lives. So, plan to make yourself available and enjoy it. They require a blend or alternation of both quality and quantity time. It may be by shopping together, walk in the neighborhood, game time, movie time, gist, cooking time, dinner time, or what have you.
As a father, you should take pride in being the one to teach your 17/18 year-old how to drive apart from other formalities in the driving school. Sam Adeyemi, president of The Success power Media says, "one of the times I will never forget in life is when my Dad thought me how to drive." If you spend time with your children, they will feel important because they perceive themselves as a priority in your life. Making yourself available to your child gives him/her a sense of importance and worth. And your child is less likely to hide things from you once he/she knows, this is you, and not a reactionary intervention.
- Mutual Accountability
It’s a good family culture to make you and your child accountability partners, especially in the matters of obeying the golden rule. "Do unto others what you want them to do to you." You as a parent should model it at all time. If you want others to treat you with kindness, you should treat them with kindness too. Anytime you act with empathy, ask your child to infer the reason why you behave that way. Then encourage him/her to question any act of unkindness of yours, knowing well that you will also reinforce his/her kind act and question their motive for any noticed unkind act.
Establishing mutual accountability in your relationship with your children will give them a sense of responsibility and inter-dependence. It creates secured vulnerability. When a child knows that Dad and Mum are also depending on them to get better and no one is perfect, he/she is more likely to open up on those aspect where improvement is required. Consequently, relationship gets deeper and more vibrant.
The relationship we build with our children is the most important key to helping them overcome the social vices of this century. Not the rules, regulations, education, doctrine, or money we give them. The building blocks for building that vital relation have been clearly establish as aforementioned. Parent’s unwavering acceptance makes the child feel secure. Catching your child in the good and sincerely praising them gives them a sense of significance. Genuine show of affection enables your teenager to learn how to love and accept love in a healthy manner.
When you make yourself available to your wards, you make them feel a sense of importance and worth. And you are training them to be responsible when you inculcate mutual accountability in your relationship with your child. Those key elements representing the building blocks for personal relationship with your child, will result in a deep and vibrant relationship which is necessary for raising responsible citizens for national prosperity.
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