Kids Tweens & Teens

Teens at home: A survival guide!

The coronavirus outbreak has many teens spending a lot more time at home with family than they might otherwise do when busy with school, sport and socialising. ODETTE UMALI from Gordon Parenting provides four tips on how to thrive in this new normal.

#1 It starts with you, the parent

When it comes to parents, self-care is key to a successful family life. It’s only through achieving a healthy, balanced lifestyle that you’ll be able to stay focused and calm at home. You become a good role model to your children, which is essential in reinforcing desirable values.

To be an effective parent to your teenagers, it’s necessary to be both attentive and proactive. Because of the neurological re-wiring of the brain during adolescence, parents must not forget teens can be largely emotional rather than logical. For anyone going through this, it’s an unpleasant – even frightening – experience. The teenage years bring with them a surge of hormones, identity crises and social pressures, all of which make it a very confusing time for your child – and all the more reason for parents to remain calm, composed and understanding in every situation.

#2 Connect, connect, connect

With all the suggested strategies and steps in resolving parent-teenager conflicts, it’s important to note that you must first establish a warm and respectful connection with your child. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time.

Know the love language of your child – is it words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, service or gifts? Leave notes on their pillows; kiss them goodnight; buy their favourite snacks. Be present in your conversations. Practice active listening. Your children need to feel respected and accepted. With connection you earn the ability to influence your teenager.

#3 Be mindful

Take charge to actively manage household relationships. Assess the triggers of conflicts before they even start and plan your schedules to reduce unnecessary stress. When school is discontinued, it needs to be substituted with routines and activities that involve physical activity and socialisation. Try cooking together, family workouts and sports, watch teen movies or TV series, do some home re-arrangement, or let them simply hang out with friends.

#4 Don’t sweat the petty stuff; don’t pet the sweaty stuff

When it comes to teens, you need to choose your battles. Ask yourself: “Is this worth damaging our relationship? Is this a rational reaction to what’s been done? Is there a better way I can approach this?” However, it’s as important to assume authority when it comes to truly deserving issues like drugs, drinking and dating.

Gordon Parenting hosts Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) courses in Hong Kong.
gordonparenting.com

This article first appeared in the Spring issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.