As a parent, one of the most difficult stages of your life is when your little babies make the transition from child to teenager. I am really nervous about this stage, but I have been offered some fabulous tips. After puberty, everything changes; the way they look, the way they talk and what they want to do with their hours is suddenly totally different. Whether they are out at a friend’s house with their phone out of battery, raiding the alcohol cabinet and replacing the Single Malt with water, or contemplating what a relationship feels like, it can seem like everything they do or say is designed to shock. Although this may be how it feels to you, essentially, they are just miniature, pseudo-adults learning about where the boundaries are by testing them. From the quiet glen of childhood, they have emerged into the vast, murky lake of the adult world without any of the tools to navigate it yet. We learn by making mistakes, and a significant amount of those mistakes are made during our teenage years. It is impossible to shield your child from the crushing pain of their first love, or from the sting of social humiliation, but you can make sure they are well informed. During the summer holidays, keeping a watchful eye on your teenager while also allowing them their space can present quite a challenge. Read on for some information about how to make sure you stay firmly but gently in charge.
Define The Rules of Engagement
At the very start of the summer holidays, before they are out of their uniform, you must establish some rules about what is ok and what is definitely not OK. Decide what will happen if these rules are flouted, and make sure that everyone knows what the consequences will be. However you establish these boundaries, by doing so you will make sure you are acting in response to a situation in a preset manner rather than reacting in the moment. When we are upset, we say things we don’t mean, and if the situation hasn’t been accounted for it is harder to know what to do. If you say something, then you must try and stick to it, unless something specific happens and you have to reassess the situation. In which case, sitting your child or children down and explaining why the rules have changed is crucial to remaining consistent.
Get Tech Ready
The world our children live in is fundamentally different to the one we grew up in. Telephones, laptops and tablets offer them an instantaneous connection with the wider world, an incredible tool for learning but also a potential danger. Are you aware of the problems they might face and are they aware of how to keep themselves safe online? If you are concerned about any of their on-line behavior, talk to them about it in a calm and collected way. Similarly, how about having a no phones or laptops in their bedroom after ten rule? Spending hours on the phone each night is not good for sleep or their mental health.
Organize Family Activities
Aside from the family holiday, which your teenager might not even want to go on for some reason, scheduling time to do things as a family is the only way you can make sure you are all in the same place at the same time. Also, those precious hours spent together will ground them in a normal family routine.
Give Them More Responsibilities
It’s easy to think that your teenager isn’t capable of looking after themselves or their possessions. At a time when they will be engaging in more adult activities whether you like it or not, try giving them some proper responsibilities and increase how capable and confident they feel. If they do not work already, get them to find some part time work to keep them occupied over the summer months. Teenagers are notorious for losing and breaking their things, teach them about insurance but make sure that they know any premium that has to be paid will come out of their pocket. Make sure they have everything they need to protect their devices, such as a hard cover for their mobile. If everything you pick is lame, get them to have a look at cases by Custom Envy and see if they will actually use it if they can help design it. There’s no point having a solid case if they just slip their phone out of it when they’re out.
Talk Frankly and Openly About Key Issues
Whether it’s sex or drugs, talking frankly and openly with your teenagers about these things is the best way to bring them from existing in the private domain to the public one. If issues like this aren’t talked about, they might be dealing with situations way beyond their experience without parental input. We know about the dangers of taking pills at clubs and of engaging in unprotected sex, so why wouldn’t we talk about them with our children? If you are struggling don’t worry, many people do, just research ways of approaching these difficult topics. If discussing some of these issues creates conflict with your teen, you can find lots of help on how to resolve that too. For example, there’s “The Step-By-Step Guide to Resolving Conflicts With Your Pre-Teen/Teen” which is a guide that will teach you how to get through to your teen. Don’t feel like you’ve got to face these problems alone.
Know What Issues They Face
Do you live in London or another big city? Knife crime is a serious matter that affects a whole host of different kids, just because your children could be considered “middle class” don’t be ignorant and assume that they will not ever come into contact with people who carry knives. Pay special attention if your child keeps coming home out of breath, for example, and make sure they are drilled to handle a situation if one arises. Without being alarmist, you need to raise the issue with them. You might never know about everything that goes on in their life, but make sure you know about the things that really matter.
Be Approachable and Open
In any situation, no matter how difficult or hard to explain, your child needs to feel like they can come to you and talk about anything that’s bothering them. Getting to the bottom of what is bothering your son or daughter is often difficult, but if you notice a significant change in their behavior gently let them know that you are aware there is something going on, and you are there to talk if they need to. Try to refrain from snooping on their emails and text messages, although it might give you information in the short term it will only damage their trust in you in the long term.
Teenager holiday image by Shutterstock.