Learn it right
Mousumi Chakraborty tells us about important social and emotional skills that parents of adolescent boys should teach to equip them better for life and times ahead.
- Starting a conversation: Since your child is no more a kid, they have to learn how to talk to elders with respect, how to talk to juniors by showing care and affection, and how to talk to peers without hurting their self-esteem. At this age, children require thorough training in manners and etiquettes.
- Asking for help: It is ok not to know a thing or two. But a child should always ask and clarify doubts.
- Accepting criticism: Children are growing up. They are developing their cognitive skills. They are forming their own opinion. It is ok to criticise them. They have to accept criticism as a tool to reinvent or improve themselves. Criticism should not hurt their ego.
- Staying safe: Children are growing up and will venture out with their friends. They should be taught how to stay safe in a new place. For eg., in a friend’s house, at a party, in a picnic, etc. Parents should explain to their teenagers what party drugs are and how it is used. Molestation and rape should be explained clearly. They should know the child helpline number and police number.
- Telling No: Teach your children to say no if they are not comfortable with doing something like smoking, drinking, taking drugs, shoplifting, etc.
- Peer pressure: Children will face peer pressure in school and neighbourhood to participate in certain activities like nights overs, partying, smoking, etc. If they do not participate, they will be thrown out of their groups. They fear losing friends and being called a coward. Parents should teach them to stand up for themselves and say no to things they are not comfortable with and which do not conform to the values taught at home.
- Managing conflict: There are bound to be conflict in classrooms, in the playground, in parties, etc. Children should be taught how to manage conflicts through calm discussion. They should not use physical violence and verbal abuse in such a situation. It is natural to get angry at times. But one should identify the emotions and manage it.
- Working together: Children should be taught how to work in a team. Team Games are important at this age. Collaborative activities also teach them team building.
- Body language: Children should be taught how to observe and understand body language. Body language often tells us what a person wants. It will help distinguish between a friend, and a foe, and this learning will do them good in the long run.
- Dating rules: Children should be informed about the rules that they should follow if they are dating. Young couples should not go to a desolate place alone or stay out at night. They should be careful of party drugs. Sexual intimacy before 18 years should be avoided. Underage drinking is a big no. Parents should know who their children are dating and where they are going. During a crisis, children should have the confidence to call their parents and ask for help.
- Identifying emotions and soothing self: When a child is five or six or seven years old, they cry when they are hurt, and parents soothe them. When your child enters puberty, the child should be equipped to understand their emotions and take care of themselves. It is ok to feel sad, unhappy, angry, disappointed, hurt, etc. They should be able to soothe themselves and bounce back.
- Understanding others: This is an important characteristic of adulthood. You have to teach your child to know how others are feeling and empathize with them. They should learn how to lend a helping hand and soothe others when they are sad or unhappy.
- Timeliness: You have to give a small task at home and make them learn the importance of completing a task within deadlines even if they don’t like it. They become responsible and learn to follow instructions. The same thing is practised in school. Children should complete their school task well in time. Procrastination is not a good attitude.
- Tolerance and patience: You should teach your child to tolerate uncomfortable situations or people. They should be patient at times. Life is full of awkward situations which cannot be avoided. We have to face them calmly and overcome them. Avoiding them is escapism.
- Sharing opinion: Parent should teach their children to have a mind of their own and form their own opinions. They should voice their opinion if asked and should not be scared of criticism. At the same time, they should be able to accept the opinion of others.
- Handling pressure: This is one of the qualities of grown-up children. As they move from one grade to the next grade in school, pressure increases. They should be able to cope up with the pressure of the Board exams and other competitive exams. They should be made life ready.
- Learning to deal: Parents try to give their children whatever they demand, almost instantly. But in life, all our wishes are not fulfilled instantly and that’s what parents need to teach their children. Children should be able to manage their feelings just in case if their wishes are not fulfilled.
- Staying calm: Parents should teach their children to take happiness and sadness in their stride and should learn to remain calm when they are jubilant and also when they are disappointed. Life is full of happy and unhappy moments. During success, they should not lose their head; similarly, during failures, they should not be depressed.
- Accepting rejections: This is an essential sign of an emotionally matured teenager. They should take “No”. Many times your child’s project can get rejected in school, they may not win the coveted prize, and they may not get admission in their favourite college. Their girl/boyfriends may not reciprocate their love. Rejections should not erode their self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Handling social media: Now on, children have accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They can be trolled, bullied, criticised, and abused on these platforms. Parents should teach their children how to remain unaffected by the pressure of social media.
10 Values and Morals to Follow
Parents should put these 10 positive affirmations in their house Notice Board for their child to internalise and follow them. These affirmations can be changed according to culture and traditions.
- I will become a good human being. I will be honest, kind, truthful, empathetic.
- I will not tell lies.
- I will respect every human being rich or poor, educated or uneducated irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
- I will share my things with the needy.
- I will be kind to all – humans, animals, plants and trees.
- I will be empathetic towards all and help the needy.
- I will not use bad works and insult/hurt others.
- I will be an honest and upright person. I will never cheat in life.
- I will value money and never waste it.
- I will follow the traditions and culture as taught by my parents.
(About the author: Chakraborty is an educationist, counsellor and life coach. She has 25 years of experience in education and has worked as Dean, Principal and Vice Principal in various renowned schools. She is the State Secretary of Private School and Children Welfare Association of India, Andhra Pradesh, and the founder and director of GSQ Foundation which manages Blissful Life Wellness Centre and The Teachers and Trainers Forum of India. For donations, workshops and training programmes contact her at +91 9880715268 or Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)