Parenting skills: Tips for raising adolescents

 08 Nov 2017 - 11:22

Parenting skills: Tips for raising adolescents

By A P Sharma & George Edison

If you analyse the maxim ‘snow and adolescence are only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough’ you would realise that snow will reappear every year whereas adolescence is a rite of passage,  and a person, once through it, is finished with it! Yet, a child during teenage is torn between conflicting emotions and is going through psychological, physiological and hormonal experiences which it is unable to handle and, sometimes too overwhelming to cope with!   

It takes nothing to join a crowd, but it takes everything to stand alone! An adolescent, by default, in a school is in a crowd. S/he is like ‘birds of the same feather flock together.’ They are in a group. They talk, share, discuss, debate and exchange everything in their world of adolescence. They merge in to their own world as it is their natural tendency to move with the crowd.

All adolescents, for reasons unknown to them, are restless. They hum, they sing with their nose, ears, eyes, mouth, arms and their body. This is why they run around. Their eyes, their ears, mouth, hands and every part of them are restless, because they wish to relate with others.

It is the only time in the life of an adolescent that they have this kind of heart. It would be good to have this kind of heart all our life, but somehow it goes away as we get older, which is a bit of a problem. Is it good to have a fruitful time like adolescence in our life? This is the question.

In retrospect, adults wish if they could get back their adolescence once again! It is one of the most beautiful phases of our life. Yet, when our own children pass through this stage in life, we see them becoming very curious to learn things, experiment, seek attention and sometimes even rebellious and rude!

Your children can be all around you all day, but if you do not spend quality time with them and if you do not pay attention to them and talk to them, it does not matter that they are just around you! You are busy today and so tomorrow too it can be the same. So, you postpone spending your time with children to tomorrow little realizing that procrastination is the thief of time! Quality time that you need to spend with your children, you postpone it tomorrow! But tomorrow never comes! It is a terrible thing to wait until you are ready. Actually, no one is ever ready to do anything. There is no such thing as tomorrow, but only now, today! You may as well do it now! Truly, now is as good a time as any!

Parents and grand-parents have a great say in moulding the future of the children.

Parenting is a psychological construct representing standard strategies parents use in raising children.

Parents, without exception, will agree that what is important is not the length of time that they spent with children that matters but it is the quality that will make all the difference.

Parenting styles are representation of how parents respond to the demands of their children.

Parents tend to use various styles in channeling the children’s energy and moulding their character as the children pass through various stages in life right from infancy. Adolescence is a critical stage during which children seek to break out of parental control and float in freedom! Parents who provide children with proper nurture, controlled independence and right guidance have children who appear to reach higher levels of competence, social skills and proficiency.

It is important to better understand the differences between parenting styles and parenting practices: Parenting practices are specific behaviors that parents use to socialize their children, whereas parenting style is the emotional climate in which parents raise their children. Parenting practices such as parental support, monitoring and firm boundaries appear to be linked to higher school grades, less behavior problems and better mental health. These components have no age limit and can begin early at home to pre-school to kindergarten leading all the way into college.

Diana Baumrind was a clinical and developmental psychologist who is known for her research on parenting styles. She came up with authoritarian, authoritative and permissive parenting styles. In simple terms, authoritarian parenting style is too hard, strict, unbending and inflexible; interestingly, authoritative parents tend to be stricter and more consistent than authoritarian parents. They set fewer rules, but are better at enforcing them.

Permissive parenting is a type of parenting style characterised by low demands with high responsiveness. Permissive parents tend to be very loving and indulgent too, yet provide few guidelines and rules. These parents do not expect mature behavior from their children and often seem more like a friend than a parental figure. Permissive style is too soft whereas the authoritative is just the right one, firm, loving and kind.
It is worthwhile looking at some other parenting styles also in this connection.

Child-centred parenting
A parenting style advocated by Blythe and David Daniel, which focuses on the real needs and the unique person-hood of each child.

Positive parenting
A parenting style overlapping substantially with authoritative parenting and defined by consistent support and guidance through developmental stages.

Concerted cultivation
A specific form of positive parenting characterised by parents’ attempts to foster their child’s talents through organised extracurricular activities such as music lessons, sports/athletics, and academic enrichment.

Narcissistic parenting
A narcissistic parent is a parent affected by narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder. Typically narcissistic parents are exclusively and possessively close to their children and may be especially envious of, and threatened by, their child’s growing independence. The result may be what has been termed a pattern of narcissistic attachment, with the child considered to exist solely for the parent’s benefit.

Over parenting - Helicopter parenting
These parents try to involve themselves in every aspect of their child’s life, often attempting to solve all their problems and stifling the child’s ability to act independently or solve his or her own problems. A helicopter parent is a colloquial early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her children’s experiences and problems, and attempts to sweep all obstacles out of their paths, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, especially during the late adolescence to early adulthood years during which gradual development of independence and self-sufficiency are essential for future success. Modern communication technology has promoted this style by enabling parents to keep watch over their kids through cell phones, emails, and online monitoring of academic grades.

Affectionless control
This parental style combines a lack of warmth and caring (low parental care) with over-control (such as parental criticism, intrusiveness). This has been linked to children’s anxiety and to dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem in the children, although it is not necessarily the cause. There is evidence that parental affectionless control is associated with suicidal behaviour.

Slow parenting
Encourages parents to plan and organise less for their children, instead allowing them to enjoy their childhood and explore the world at their own pace. Electronics are limited, simplistic toys are utilised, and the child is allowed to develop their own interests and to grow into their own person with lots of family time, allowing children to make their own decisions.

Idle parenting and/or Toxic parenting
Poor parenting has the possibility of a toxic relationship between the parent and child. It results in complete disruption of the children’s ability to identify themelves and reduced self-esteem, neglecting the needs of the child. Abuse is sometimes seen in this parenting style. Adults who have suffered from toxic parents are mostly unable to recognize toxic parenting behavior in themselves. Children with toxic parents grow up with damage and pass their damage to their own children.

Dolphin parenting
It represents a parenting style seen as similar to the nature of dolphins, being “playful, social and intelligent”.  It is in contrast to “tiger” parenting.  Dolphin parenting provides a balance between the strict approach of “tiger” parenting and the lack of rules and expectations that characterizes “jellyfish parents”. Dolphin parents avoid overscheduling activities for their children, refrain from being overprotective, and take into account the desires and goals of their children when setting expectations for behavior and academic success.

Tiger parenting
Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother discusses an ethnically different approach to parenting. Mothers who set up rules that overstep conventional parental boundaries are regarded as tiger mothers. Tiger mothers prioritise schoolwork above all else and only allow children to participate in activities in order to potentially win awards which they believe will increase the chance of the child’s acceptance to the best schools. It is said that “Asian American parents provide a constant wind beneath their children’s wings”, meaning tiger mothers constantly propel their children towards excellence.

A P Sharma is the Principal and George Edison is the vice-principal of Birla Public School.