Parents often dread the teenage crisis; the passage from childhood to adulthood is a period of great upheaval in the lives of young people
The body changes and this physical transformation is accompanied by psychological changes on many levels. Adolescents go through a period of multiple learning related to their new freedom to act, be and enjoy their own bodies. This phase is characterized by exploratory behavior, made up of trial and error, through which they gain experience and sometimes put themselves in danger.
Caring and respect
For parents and the family in general, dealing with this phase involves preparing for it well in advance, from childhood. Children do not grow up in a vacuum, but in a social environment, surrounded by their families and other significant adults.
The essential basis for giving children the keys to a (relatively) peaceful adolescence and a happy adult life is to treat them with respect and kindness from a very early age, so that they perceive these qualities as normal. The child will gradually understand that this behavior grounded in respect and courtesy is the best way to communicate with others. Later, if they encounter negative or violent behavior, they will see it as unacceptable.
Conversely, a child raised in a violent environment, where relationships with other people are based on domination, will integrate such behaviors as the only way to communicate effectively.
The importance of respecting children, not just loving them, cannot be overemphasized. A child may feel loved, but at the same time they might feel confused when their words are not taken seriously, e.g. their parents are discussing their faults with other adults, their being present!
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Listening, the key to communication
Listening is one of the fundamental skills of positive parenting. When a child feels listened to, they that you are making an effort to understand them. When your child talks to you, look at them and listen to what they have to say. Don’t cut them off, don’t finish sentences for them. Don’t comment on the way they speak and don’t do anything else at the same time. The child may immediately sense your lack of interest and impatience!
Apprehending the child’s emotions
Active listening is essential in everyday communication, but also when something “serious” happens from the child’s point of view. When a child faces a problem that causes them stress, frustration or anger, the problem belongs to them, not to the parents. And it is up to the child to solve this problem. However, with the help of the family, it is easier!
Understanding the child’s emotions
Let’s say, for example, that your child has had a fight with their best friend, or that they’ve done badly at school despite of hard work. Through active listening, the parent will try to understand what the child is feeling. They will then repeat this message to the child in their own words, without analyzing it, nor giving advice, nor make comments. In this case, the objective of active listening is to help the child develop their thinking skills so that they can identify their negative emotions and overcome them.
Active listening helps children to reduce or even overcome fear, resentment and other unpleasant emotions. By expressing such emotions to a parent who accepts and understands them, without judging them, the child feels relieved and supported.
Finally, active listening helps to establish warm and empathetic links within the family. The child feels understood and listened to, while the parents feel closer to their child. Later on, this communication will be very useful should difficult moments arise in the future.
The prevention of addictions and other risk behaviors starts in the family!