The teenage years are fraught with all kinds of problems – from low self-esteem and peer pressure, to low motivation and chronic untidiness. With a bit of foresight, you can help your teen with all of these.
Self-esteemPart of being an adolescent is the excruciating concern over appearance. Changing body shape, hair springing up in unlikely places, dreaded spots breaking out – no wonder teenagers spend so much time looking in the mirror! If a young person is less than delighted with the changes they see – and very few are completely happy – it can knock their self-esteem.Parents should try to avoid making jokes about a teenager’s appearance – even if it’s meant in a light-hearted way, it can be taken to heart. It’s also a mistake to make light of something that worries a teenager, even though it may seem silly to you. He may be convinced that plastic surgery is the only solution for his nose, even though it looks absolutely fine to everyone else. Try to explain that other people rarely notice the kind of detail we notice in ourselves. If your teenager has bad acne, your GP can prescribe medication to help clear it up.The better teenagers feel generally about themselves – and the higher their self-esteem – the more able they are to cope with these temporary problems.Helping around the houseIdeally your child should have become used to helping with some household chores in middle childhood, so there’s less likelihood of a battle in adolescence.Even so, the nature of being a teenager means they’re likely to try to get out of doing things – and certainly won’t respond well to orders. The more you can negotiate the type of chores your teen might not mind doing, the better. He may be happy to do some weeding in the garden, for example, but hate the idea of washing dishes. It also works better if your teenager can, at least to some extent, do things in his own way and time. This might seem annoying, but if all you do is order him to do things now and in a particular way, you can bet next time he’ll make sure he’s out of the way and doesn’t do it at all. Always thank your child for his effort. And if he does something that’s well beyond regular chores – decorating, perhaps – you might want to pay him.UntidinessAmong the most common arguments between parents and teenagers are those regarding untidiness. Parents are driven mad by the school blazer dropped on the hall floor, the wet towel dropped next to the bath or the mould growing in the week-old coffee cup.But before flying off the handle, it’s worth remembering your own teens. Chances are, tidiness wasn’t your number-one priority in life either. Teenagers don’t really do it to annoy parents; their thoughtlessness is simply a reflection of the fact that their thoughts are elsewhere most of the time. Different parents deal with this aspect of teenage behaviour in different ways. Some don’t mind clearing up after their teens, seeing it as an extension of the childcare they’ve been happily doing all along. Others are determined to make the young person toe the line and take more responsibility for themselves. Whatever the rights or wrongs of each stance, there’s no doubt that the first kind of parent will have less arguments and less hassle! If you’re determined to teach your teenagers to be tidy, the best way may be to let them experience the natural consequences. They’ll quickly realise that their things can’t be found in a muddle, or that clothes don’t walk to the washing machine on their own. Unfortunately, they may not thank you sweetly for the lesson and vow to change their ways; in fact, they’re more likely to fly into a rage and blame you.There’s another important issue when it comes to the teenager’s own room, which is as much to do with boundaries as with cleanliness. The wisest course of action with the least chance of upset is to accept that your child’s room is his own private space – and that he has the right to keep it as he likes. As long as the door is closed, don’t fret over it. If the example set in the rest of the house is be clean and tidy, then he’ll probably decide to clean up his own room every now and then, too.(Source: BBC News: January 2005.)