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Written By : SUNILA KARAN. Many adolescents today have problems and are getting into trouble. After all, there are lots of pressures for children to deal with among friends and
25 Dec 2010 12:00

Written By : SUNILA KARAN.
Many adolescents today have problems and are getting into trouble.
After all, there are lots of pressures for children to deal with among friends and family.
For some children, pressures include poverty, violence, parental and peer expectations.
Children may also be concerned about significant issues such as religion, gender roles, values, or racial issues.
Some children are having difficulty dealing with past traumas that they have experienced, like abuse.
Parents, caregivers and their teenagers are struggling between the youth wanting independence while still needing parental guidance.
Sometimes all these conflicts result in behavioural problems.
Any number of isolated behavioural problems can represent adolescent problems-shoplifting, a fight in school, smoking, use of drugs and alcohol.
Sometimes children can’t explain why they act the way they do.
They may be just as confused as the adults, or they simply see delinquent behaviours as appropriate ways to deal with what they experience.
Parents and loved ones may feel scared, angry, frustrated, or hopeless.
They may feel guilty and wonder where they went wrong.
All these feelings are normal, but it is important to understand that you need to seek help for your troubled kids.

How do you know when
to seek help?
What are the signs of trouble? Many adolescents get into trouble sometimes.
A big question for parents (whether they be “traditional”, single, step, or grandparents) though, is how to know when their kid is headed for more serious problems, or when bad behaviour is just “a kid being a kid.”
Try to focus on patterns rather than an isolated event. In other words, does behaviour happen repeatedly despite efforts to change it?
These pattern signal the need for help, and it does not only include deviant behaviors by the child, but also indicates the presence of other problems in the family or tensions at home or school.
For example, problems in the parents’ marriage or frequent fighting or hostility among the family members can also be involved in the child’s behaviour problems.
These problem behaviours and other family issues can interact and feed off each other, so that it is hard to tell where it all started.
Of course, there are some obvious signs that indicate the need for immediate and effective intervention, including violence against other persons, or when peers are involved in destructive processes (crime, drugs).
Or a parent may simply have an instinctive feeling that something serious is happening.
An important first step to find out what is going on is to try to talk to your adolescent and other family members about what is happening, possible reactions, and potential solutions.
Talk to others who know the adolescent, like, their teachers.
They may be able to provide information on the adolescent’s moods or behaviours outside of home.
Once you have determined that your adolescent needs help, there are some very effective treatments that you should explore.
Research indicates that the most effective treatments, even with very difficult youth, are programmes and treatments that are family- based and multisystemic.
That means treatment that involves the adolescent and his or her family, and one that also addresses other aspects of their lives, such as the school system (which is very important), the neighbourhood, peers, juvenile justice system, and even employers.
In other words, it is treatment that focuses on all the parts of the youth’s life that shape how he or she views the world, emphasising family and parental support.
Treatments that focus on the family can also be useful in helping parents and caregivers develop their parental skills, deal with stress, and work on marital relationships.

Living happily with
During adolescence a teenager is faced with the task of learning how to become an independent person.
In order to do this, he/she may need to rebel against the very people they love most.
They may need to break free from their family. On the journey towards discovering themselves, their peer group becomes increasingly important to them.
This is the time when teenagers experiment, try out different roles, and search for answers to questions. In their attempt to cut the emotional ties to their parents, they are often filled with a sense of loss and emptiness.
Teenagers go through periods of enormous growth and development.
They experiment physical changes in their bodies, hormonal changes that impact on their moods, and changes in personal and social expectations.
Adolescence, therefore, is a time of instability, restlessness, insecurity and turmoil.
However, it is a vital time of growth, independence and adventure.
Most parents dread the onset of adolescence, anticipating a difficult time. Does it have to be this way?
If parents understand the changes a teenager is experiencing, they can learn to make this a more positive, productive time.
In what way is a teenager’s world different?
There are more pressures on adolescents to perform academically because consequences are more significant in terms of their long-term careers.
There are many more opportunities and choices, which is wonderful, but it can be very confusing also.
It is a time of ambiguity.
On the other hand, teenagers push towards independence and freedom, but on the other hand, they want to be looked after when things go wrong.
It is very tempting to get into the ‘I told you so’ syndrome if things go wrong, instead of being non-judgmental.
Parents and teenagers have to communicate especially when things go wrong.
Threats and accusations have no benefit other than to hurt the other person.
They need to stop blaming each other.
Retreating into sullen silence is also counterproductive.
Adolescents attack parents when they feel insecure. We need to resist the temptation to attack back.

How do we get our
teenagers to respect
Another dead end is to focus on the issue of respect. This drives the parent and adolescent even further apart.
Parents must earn respect; it is not their automatic right. Respect is a mutual energy exchange, so it is imperative that you lead by example.
Model respect in the way you treat your adolescents and others around you. Don’t yell, or use abusive language or put-downs.
Never negate their feelings, and be available to listen whenever they want to talk.
You will earn respect by acting respectfully.
How do you get your teenager to talk to you?
As adults, many of us already know how to have a good relationship with somebody.
We do it all the time with family members, friends, colleagues and others in our lives.
Some of you probably have a unique style of maintaining good relationships with people.
Either by humour, inti-


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