Smart work is working hard at the right time. This has always been our motto at I Love Mondays, especially when we meet Teens with their Parents.
In the world of smart phones, smart boards and smart watches; Smart Parenting is working with your child at the right time.
"Teenage years are the habit forming years.’’ At this crucial age, the once wondering – wandering, and exploratory mind of the child begins to develop an identity that will last for a long long time, therefore the isolation, the perceived rebellion and aloofness. Our teens are figuring out the quintessential "WHO AM I?’’
Given this, what would be the Top 5 habits Parents can help their teens develop without making it seem chore-like.
1. Read like an explorer:
Research demonstrates that reading non-academic text books can boost academic achievement. It is not about hoarding knowledge but about the ability to comprehend, think and thereby explore. An average of 30 minutes of reading as a family will be a great start. Let your teen read anything they want, as long as they read. Some may indulge in comics, young romance, sci-fi, mythology or even self development.
Now, I am sure you are busy and hardly find time for yourself. Reading in the middle of all of this? For people like you, there are reading and audio book apps like Blinkist, storytel, audiobooks etc. You can do this on your way to work or while cooking dinner that night. Remember, It is easier for your teen to read when you WALK THE TALK.
2. Problem Solving:
I don’t think any of us can emphasize enough about this any more. Let us take a step back. Often we hear Parents of teens talking about how their kids just don’t seem interested to do anything, or give up way too easily [ no perseverance ]. Some Parents even think that the kids are even ranking first when it comes to Rote learning.
Problem solving is a MUST have skill, more so now, than before. And it isn’t something that can be delegated to their schools. The employment market hires ” problem solvers ” today more than ever before.
So what can we do? Your teen can develop problem solving via several ways. Gaming could be one powerful medium. You can also involve them in real life activities e.g.: paying the electricity bill online, organizing a party at home, deciding the menu [ decision making ], running an online survey to understand problem statement, creating their own time-table, cooking for the family one Saturday night, Sudoku face off between you and your teen and the list goes on.
Get creative! Based on your teen’s dominant intelligence, you can always customize the kind of problem solving they will enjoy and excel at.
3. Active Communication:
Most teens become withdrawn from their family members during their teen years, in their want for more space to discover themselves or for the lack of understanding and empathy from fellow family members. While giving them space could be a good thing to do, being socially withdrawn or introvert may not be a useful habit when they grow up.
Involve them in Public speaking forums with their peers or slightly older yet progressive folks; they can explore theatre, debating clubs, MUN clubs in schools. Let them dabble with real life communication skills like negotiating with a vendor at the market [ just as a game ], blogging their thoughts, maintaining a journal, or even welcoming a neighbour to the neighbourhood, hosting/MC-ing at the home party etc.
Again, get creative. Teens don’t respond well to silent treatment as a way of reprimanding them, nor do they embrace rules without justification. Having a consistently open & active line of communication [ non lecture-ey ] can be a useful tool.
4. General awareness:
Most often we tend to read & follow stuff/people we like, within our comfort zone. For a teenager, with the limited experience they have, they can narrow down to their comfort zone with very few choices to choose from.
As a Parent, Keep a small journal of things they watch on TV, Netflix, Youtube; music they listen to [ knowing the names of their fav artists as ice breakers could be useful ]; Pages they follow on Social media. This will empower you, as a parent understand what your teen is thinking, what their current interests are.
With this as a starting point, you can help them build on this and yet expand their bandwidth of knowledge. For example if your teen follows a lot of fashion, help them expand to fashion in Politics – What do the top Politicians wear and why? Who styles their clothes, top brands they pick from and then migrate to the economics in the fashion industry. Help them expand their general awareness of the world with discussions at the dining table or while travelling together.
Listen to learn something new from them. Let them show off what they know.
5. Unbiased thinking:
We do this as adults. Based on gender, social status, age, class, job profile, dressing etc we categorize people, events and respond accordingly.
Why is it that your teen will take the same advice from his/her peer rather than from you? Not listening to their parents can become a long term bias, which can extend to other people and situations too. For example: Hatred for Math because of the teacher or low grades, disliking a relative forever and switching off when they speak.
The best way to combat this is by not TELLING but by ASKING. Case in point: Read this book as it will help you make the right career choice. Hey, here is a book I saw a teen reading in the library, you think this is interesting? What can it help with?
This approach helps the teen open up, think and make decisions for themselves. Now, not all their decisions are good ones. You will need to know which decisions are worth revising immediately.
Now everything mentioned above may or may not work. Remember one size does not fit all, especially all teenagers. Try your own experiments and share your experiences with me on firstname.lastname@example.org
-Mala Mary Martina
Explore the world of next generation careers with the bestseller I Love Mondays book.