When our children are young, we put in the time and effort to nurture them to have good manners, life skills and a sense of self. As they mature into young adults, you’ll need to adjust your techniques in order to bring about the same kinds of results. By learning to encompass their changes and create new communication skills both you and your teen will have a greater chance of surviving this often challenging period.
One of the first things a parent needs to understand is that when a teen hits puberty their brain undergoes a transformation of sorts. Hundreds of new neuro-pathways open up and it is this extra brainwave activity that challenges them to sleep at night and why they are always so tired. It is also the reason they become thoughtless and uncaring. They are not doing it on purpose. The changes in their frontal cortex means that their ability to judge, act logically, understand right from wrong or even understand the consequences of their actions is impaired.
Thankfully, by the time they hit their twenties these changes will conclude and the teen will morph into hopefully a caring and well-adjusted adult. One of the biggest struggles I hear is how to motivate a child to do their homework. Often all it takes is a new way of thinking to herald new results.
1. Think of your teen like a new puppy.
Don’t automatically assume that once your child has reached a certain age that they will instinctively know how to perform certain tasks. Changes within the brain can often inhibit logical thinking. It is also possible for your request to travel down a new neuro pathway where there is simply no answer at the end. This could explain that dumbfounded look on their face when you ask them to do certain things. This is where your patience comes into play. You may have to paraphrase or repeat your question until they comprehend what it is you are trying to convey. I once had a conversation with my daughter telling her where I was going only to have her call me 20 minutes later to ask me where I was.
2. Get your teen involved with the decision making process.
Teens respond better to helping if they are involved in the decision making process rather than being spoken to in a condescending way or being yelled at. If you allow them to have their say, you may be surprised that your way is not the only way to accomplish the task.
3. Set good time frames to accomplish a task.
Teens often lack the capacity to understand how long something will take to complete, therefore one of the most valuable skills you can impart on them is time management. By assisting them with a homework schedule, you are actually helping to formulate a work life balance. With our daughter’s help, we designed the following schedule:
|3.45 to 4.30 pm:||Free time-She can do whatever she likes.|
|4.30 to 6.00 pm:||Homework.|
|6.00 to 7.00 pm:||Dinner and more free time|
|7.00 to 8.30 pm:||More homework if not completed|
|8.30 to 10.00 pm:||Free time.|
4. Make them accountable.
In the first couple of weeks, I found I needed to remind her often to stick to her schedule. Instead of nagging her, I found one-word statements worked best to jog her memory, or I would leave post it note or texts.
- I’d say “Its 4.30 pm or its 7.00 pm” If work does not get started then try-
- “Homework. ”
By keeping it short and sweet, hopefully you will reduce the amount of resentment your child has when it comes to homework and by making them accountable, you will stand a greater chance of success.
5. Keeping to the agreement.
If you notice your teen is not adhering to their schedule organise a time to sit and seek the reason why, maybe their schedule needs tweaking.
6. Breaking the agreement.
We found Facebook and Instagram were regularly distracting our daughter. In order to manage her time better, it was decided she should leave her phone on the kitchen table and she could check it during her breaks. Although she was unhappy about this arrangement, we reinforced that this is what happens regularly in the adult world. Some companies only allow staff to check their phones in their own time. By giving her adult rules to live by, she may have been unhappy, but is quickly learning that it is a necessary evil.
7. Don’t offer advice
As parents, we regularly offer our own unsolicited advice. We do so, not because we are showing off, but rather because of time constraints, or to alleviate the pain our child is experiencing. Unfortunately, when you shortcut the process, you are actually shortchanging the child. Struggling is part of the character building process.
Will you encounter gripping, complaining, arguing and even yelling along the way? For sure, but this is part and parcel of the transformation. Helping your child through their teenage years will be more exhausting than when they were toddlers. By tweaking what you know, committing time to understanding what makes your teen tick and helping them with the consequences of their actions it will deliver its own rewards. Who knows, in the end the outcome might just be a better relationship between you and your teen.