Last week, our Head of Counseling and Support, Dr. Funke Baffour Awuah, invited Secondary Parents to give them a talk on How to Raise Calm and Confident Teens. What are they stressed about? How do we reduce the stress? What type of stress have you witnessed? What did you or did you not do? In the interactive session between the parents present and Dr. Funke, these questions were a few of the many questions addressed and experiences shared!
Many times, we notice very similar traits in growing teens. With all the changes in their bodies, minds and their peers, most teenagers have mood swings, become defensive or show subtler signs. According to Dr. Funke, a Psychologist by profession, teenagers in most cases act out because they want to prove that they exist and their opinions and viewpoints matter, even though some of them might not be in their best interests. Teenagers are stressed! What type of stress do they have and how do we reduce it?
Most teenagers have issues with Self Esteem and Body Image. As they are growing and through hormonal changes, their bodies are changing, fat starts to accumulate around the body. Teenagers through their changes and external influences undergo the pressure of having to be what they are not, or having to look a certain way. These changes also make them feel that they are losing control of what is happening to their own bodies causing them to act out. Social Media’s Influence almost takes over parental guidance, according to Dr. Funke.
Dr. Funke advised to fix a good and healthy eating schedule for the teenager. Many times, they act out their control through what they put or rather don’t put in their bodies. They need to be given healthier options and they must eat proper meals. Moreover, exercise really helps release stress and is healthy for overall well-being.
Students undergo so much Peer Pressure. Along with Social Media being a parent, their friends become their family. What their peers are doing, they also want to do with the reasoning that “he/she is doing it, why can’t I?” Parents may see their children doing things that is unlike them, children are sometimes pressured or trapped in situations due to peer pressure and the fear of being ostracized. This leads to mood swings, anxiety, withdrawal, and even depression affecting their overall well-being.
Most peer pressure translates into teenagers asking to go out somewhere with their friends that the parents might not be informed about. Parents talked about the possibilities of inviting their teen’s friends into their homes and creating a safe and free space. Parents shared their experiences of what their children do and asked for advice in some cases of what their children might not be doing.
Due to cultural and social gaps, parenting experiences and growing up experience of teens differ! How do they accommodate this in cases where children have newly moved to a new country and are having to make new friends and explore new activities and places? A discussion ensued, but this discussion is forever ongoing!
Dr. Funke also spoke about Fractured Relationships between Parents and Teenagers. Broken families, hardships or unhealthy relationships with parents reflect on teens’ behavior and overall social, emotional and psychological stability.
The School Pressure and Parents Pressure was also discussed! Are you a Helicopter parent? Monitoring your teen’s every move? Many times the pressure is placed on teens by their parents, and on top of that, they might want to explore new opportunities and extra-curricular activities but they might not be given the freedom or the chance to!
Dr. Funke discussed with Parents about creative activities to redirect and refresh teenagers attention towards more productive attitudes. Getting involved in creative activities also gives them an avenue to explore and discover new things and their strengths.
Dr. Funke also initiated a discussion on – “Are you friends with you teen? How often do you laugh with him/her?” Parents must be friends to their teenagers as well, they must give them attention and also an environment to explore different opportunities for teens to be able to find themselves. They should do family activities or family activities. Some parents said that every Friday, they even have a game night!
Some parents shared experiences that their teens are actually not so social with their friends and asked for advice on how to guide or help teenagers who are too shy to develop social relationships. Some children ease into social interactions while other don’t quite feel like they fit in.
Teenagers’ Confidence is one of the biggest aspects to work on in these years. Parents must work to strike a balance of school-play-rest time- socializing as an example. Of course, ways of parenting may be different as per each family. A teenager, like anyone else, must be given the support to feel comfortable in his or her environment as everything seems to be changing for them, and they encounter new sets of problems. They must be socially supported and eased through their transition and changes.
There are a lot more stories and experiences that different parents share with one another. Here’s to more discussions as such, for the overall well-being of all the children at our school!