“Children are seedlings in the garden of life. They need sunshine and warmth When they are cold and sad; They need water and nourishment when they are thirsty and hungry. They need attention and care, When they are challenged by life. And they need to be loved and appreciated And held in awe of their potential, To be unique, beautiful and like no other. ”
Children and Adolescents
One of life’s greatest and most challenging experiences is that of being a parent. As a parent one has an enormous amount of influence and it generally comes with little training and without a manual. It is not uncommon that at various times in your child’s life, that you may find your parenting role tough. The first step is to be aware of your parenting experience, followed by the desire to want to do things differently.
Specific issues for adolescents
Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood, characterised by physical and psychological changes. An Adolescents centre of reasoning and problem solving (prefrontal cortex in the brain) is the last to mature and is not fully developed until they are in their 20’s. They don’t have the same ability as adults to control their impulses and make sound decisions.
Being the parent of an adolescent can be a difficult and confusing role. The stage of adolescence is about building self-respect, friendships, popularity with peers, finding and refining personality and individuation from parents. This process can be characterized by struggle and conflict between parents and their teenager.
“Parents of an adolescent need to be an understanding voice of reason, of strategically setting limits and boundaries and of consequential learning” Michael Carr Gregg
Some ways to be clearer about your role as a parent
- Take a step back – to gain a different view of the situation
- Your children will take much more notice of what ‘you do’ than what you tell them ‘to do’.
- Clearly spell out which behaviours are acceptable and which behaviours are unacceptable. Establish clear boundaries (that have been agreed upon) for unacceptable behaviour.
- Remember that learning from experiences, mistakes and successes are an essential part of a child’s journey.
- Be a good role model
- Spend time with your children.
- Children learn about themselves through their relationships with other people, particularly their parents. It is important that they explore, relax, challenge themselves and have fun with their parents.
- Be clear with your children about what you expect of them
- Notice what is going well
- Acknowledge and praise your child for respectful and ‘good behaviour’.
- Meaning behind the behaviour
- Take a moment to understand what your child is ‘really’ trying to say or tell you. Use these times as opportunities to teach your child to say how they feel and ask for what they need.
- Look after yourself
As a parent there is little time for yourself, if you are not able to look after yourself with rest, nutrition, enjoyable activities and rewarding relationships you will not be able to offer the best of yourself to your children.
Counselling can help to
My approach assumes that the child is affected by what is happening in the family, and the family is affected by the child’s behaviour.
- understand the different elements of communication and the importance of effective listening
- rebuild relationships
- gain a greater understanding of the importance of discipline and effective ways to use discipline in the parenting role
- increase awareness of the concept that behaviour operates in cycles
- identify and manage emotions more effectively
- build confidence and resilience
- develop coping strategies and tools