Challenges of Parenting and Creative Strategies for Handling them - Part 2

Shreyah Mantri
Parenting

28 Nov 2020
Parenting Counseling

In my blog earlier, I discussed a few challenges faced by parents and a few ways of how they could deal with them. Let’s take a look at a few more:

Challenge 5: Addiction to the Phone

Teenagers these days may consciously use phones in prohibited contexts or potentially dangerous situations. For example, texting while driving among this age group is most likely to be considered “cool”.

Excessive use of smartphone seems to be causing conflicts with family and there may be withdrawal from family, negative effects on school and social, or emotional functioning.

During adolescence specially, the impulsive, frequent, constant checking of phone, even in short bursts (feels strong need to check every few minutes), the urgency to be connected, feelings of unease/irritability when they are unable to use the phone, the need to respond to messages immediately are seen to be very common.

Insomnia or sleep disturbances can also be caused due to frequent checking.

How To Handle: Parents must set certain ground rules for using the phone, for example, how many hours, when can they use and what the consequences would be if the children broke the rules. It is better to keep communicating with the child/adolescent so that the parents can keep a check on what they might be doing while using the phone. Parents must try to think of doing activities with their children so that they willingly keep the phone away and get involved in other things happening around them. Let them know that it is alright to not respond to texts or notifications immediately until it is really an emergency. Remember, children learn from what their parents do. Hence, one must make sure that they are being a role model and are not using their phones 24*7. If parents think that it is completely out of control, they should immediately contact a counsellor.

Challenge 6:

During adolescence it is very common to get attracted to the opposite sex. Like a coin has two sides, having heterosexual relations also has its pros and cons.

Pros:

    * Getting to know the other person very well
    * Getting to know the opposite sex
    * Getting to know what kind of girl/boy is their type
    * Becoming more socially competent
    * Learning so much about their self
    * Learning to compromise and cooperate with opposite sex
    * Being able to choose their mates

 Cons:

    * Getting too absorbed in the relationship, therefore, no concentration on studies, hobbies, etc.
    * Limiting options in terms of a life partner
    * If intimate, then they run the risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, being blackmailed (sexual acts clicked on cell phones)
    * Breakups can be painful, at a time when not much of resilience is built and emotions and hormones are too powerful for them to understand it calmly
    * Money gets spent on these dates, hence they have no limits on their spending
    * Relationships can get abusive or toxic leading to long-term problems
    * The need to seek approval from their partner, hence having no confidence of their own

How To Handle: Don’t laugh it off by telling the children they’re too young to be interested in the opposite sex. If they start to feel embarrassed, they might not be honest and share their feelings in the future. Invite friends of the opposite sex over to get to know them better. Ask questions: “Why do you like that boy?” or “What interests you about her? Discuss curfew, group and private dating. Discuss with them what they’ll do if they start to feel unsafe. Make sure they know never to meet someone alone that they encountered online. Come up with a code that they can text or tell you over the phone anytime they’re out. For example, “I’m feeling sick. I should go,” can mean, “I’m uncomfortable. Come pick me up at our spot down the street.” Parents should always be watchful for signs of abuse. Jealousy and possessiveness are common red flags. Subtler signs include unusual anxiety, secretiveness, poor appetite, low self-esteem and depression. If their boyfriend or girlfriend regularly puts them down, has power over them, controls their activities and choices or threatens them harm, parents need to step in.

Challenge 7: Conforming to Peer pressure

How to handle: Parents must talk about smoking, alcohol and drugs and consequences for starters, because these are very commonly seen among adolescents. Teaching child to trust their instincts, for example, if a friend asks to do something they think of the pros and cons for a few minutes before making a decision. They must be able to identify their feelings, that is, whether what they are doing is making them feel comfortable and easy. Parents can teach their children to say “no” and mean it which will help them to resist peer pressure. For example: "No thank you. I'm training for next week's big game." Or, "I can’t even stand the sight of cigarettes, my aunt is fighting lung cancer.” At this age, try being more friendly to the child. Establish a code phrase and let them know that they can always count on you. Count on the support of good friends. Encourage them to be a positive influence and a leader rather than a follower whenever possible. It is better to clear up misconceptions like complying with a friend is a sign of independence. No true friend will make one do something that is dangerous, unethical or wrong.

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    Shreyah Mantri

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