As parents, have you ever realized that your once well-behaved children have started to go their own way since they reached adolescence? Ernest Lee, a clinical psychotherapist, explains that everyone has to go through this phase of teenage rebellion before they grow up and become adults. When they refuse to blindly follow instructions, it actually means they are starting to develop their own independent mindset. Parents should learn to acknowledge and respect their choices.
Teenagers need respect from their parents
Most children enter adolescence when they are around 12 years old. Adolescence is a period that begins with puberty and ends with the transition to adulthood. During this period of time, they want the freedom to make their own choices, and to be less influenced by their parents. Through exploring their own weaknesses and strengths, they begin to find their own path through life.
Why do teenagers rebel? Ernest explains that children in kindergartens and primary schools actually understand their parents’ thoughts, and are able to predict their reactions when something goes wrong. “For example, when the parents come home and see that their children are playing computer games, they often ask, ‘have you finished your homework?’ Since the kids can more or less guess their parents’ reaction, they simply give a perfunctory reply, making their parents even more upset,” he says.
In early childhood, children crave appreciation and recognition from their parents, but when they hit puberty, all they want is their respect. According to Ernest, parents often have an assumption that all young people are somehow immature. As a result, they have a tendency to immediately dismiss any ideas or thoughts shared by their adolescent children. “Teenagers often have the mindset that their parents don’t understand the situations they are going through, so they gradually stop sharing, creating a generation gap.” he adds.
If young people do not step out of their parents’ shadow, and continue to suppress their own ideas and feelings, it’s unlikely they will become someone who is assertive and confident when they grow up, severely affecting their social life and career development.
Three tips on getting along with your teenage children
If parents want to maintain a good parent-child relationship with their adolescent children, they must make the following three adjustments: 1) engage in discussion instead of giving commands; 2) be a good listener and ask questions; and 3) respect their children’s final decisions.
Teenagers have their own independent thoughts. Using a commanding tone when speaking to them will often irritate them even more. Ernest suggests that parents should learn to get along with their teenage children just like they are friends. Try to talk to them in a manner that makes them feel comfortable, and let them know that you acknowledge the fact they are growing up.
When there is a problem to discuss, parents should always listen carefully to what their children have to say, and give them appropriate guidance when they are exploring the pros and cons of a certain issue. Try not to make judgements based on the values of your generation as this will only widen the generation gap.
Allow room for mistakes
When running into problems, teenagers usually understand the possible difficulties and challenges that may be involved. Ernest once came across a high school student who wanted to pursue a career in the field of eSports, but his parents obviously felt there was no future in it. In fact, he clearly understood that the eSports industry is not as easy as it looks, and it involves a great deal of difficulties, such as forming your own team and other technical requirements. However, “the more his parents tried to burst his bubble, the more he wanted to prove them wrong.” Ernest suggests that parents should listen more to their teenage kids and try to understand what they are thinking.
Teenagers are meant to learn and grow from mistakes. Ernest advises that, as long as your kids are not doing something severely wrong or immoral, as parents you should always respect their choices. Give your children room to make mistakes, and make sure you are always there when they need you.
MBTI helps teenagers understand more about themselves
Teenagers often feel lost when they have to make academic or career choices. With the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” (aka MBTI), parents can help their children understand their own personal characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Take “Sensing (S)” and “Intuition (N)” as examples: the former means the ability to do things in a planned manner, and the tendency to experience the world with our five senses, which is great for disciplines or professions related to digital science or social work; the latter represents rich imagination, and the ability to come up with different plans to perform the same task, which is perfect for disciplines or professions related to research and planning.
When you are busy learning how to cope with your rebellious teenage kids, don’t forget to choose the right financial products, and be well prepared for the transformation your kids are going through.
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