Do you have a daughter who has just entered teenage? Are you finding it challenging to have a conversation or appropriately respond to her behaviour?
Understanding and supporting your daughter during puberty and teenage years can often be a daunting task for a parent. Bangalore-based counselor Maullika Sharma offers a few suggestions:
Talk about puberty: Some parents may find it uncomfortable and awkward to talk to their children about puberty. This may be particularly so if their parents did not have such conversations with them when they were a child. But it’s important to have a series of open and relaxed conversations with her when you notice that the physical changes are beginning to occur. This will help your daughter feel more at ease when her body begins to change and will help her to cope.
Listen to understand, not to respond: Listen to her feelings. If she wants to talk - stop and give her your full attention. If you’re in the middle of something, make a specific time when you can listen. If your daughter is expressing concerns, it’s important to give her a safe space to express. At the same time, it's important to listen to her and then respond. -
Accept and love her unconditionally: Refrain from being judgmental or criticizing her. Try and focus on leveraging her potential rather than trying to fix her. For eg. maximizing her strengths by appreciating her qualities like her ability to empathize, her leadership qualities or other such qualities instead of fixing what she may not be very good at.
Acknowledge effort and skills rather than the outcome: Just focusing on her academic performance may not help. Other aspects of her personality need to be taken into consideration. For example, when she does not get the expected marks or grades it's important to acknowledge her effort. If she is not academically inclined, then one could look at other skills or talents that she might be good at and encourage her in those aspects.
Remember that there's no such thing as being a perfect parent: Parenting a teenager can be tough, but your daughter's achievements (marks, medals/ trophies or even appearance) do not define your worth as a parent. What goes a long way is your ability to connect, support, encourage and trust her. Work towards building a friendly and healthy relationship with her.
Be her role model:
Show her that you are comfortable with your body size, make time for exercise, eat healthy food and get enough sleep.
Form and maintain positive relationships with your family members, friends and colleagues. She can learn from observing situations where there is respect, empathy and positive ways of resolving conflict. For instance, she may notice how you speak and interact with others during social gatherings.
Display healthy ways of dealing with difficult emotions and moods. Do not lash out, but acknowledge your feelings and thoughts. It's also important to assertively communicate your needs and wants.
Have a genuine interest in her friends: Welcome them to your home. This will help you keep in touch with her social relationships. It also shows that you recognize how important her friends are to her sense of self.
Be open and comfortable to discuss various topics including relationships, sex and sexuality. Look for moments when you can easily bring up discussions with her.
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