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Handbook For Talking To Your Teenage Child On Sensitive Issues

Guide your child through his most vulnerable period.

Parenting And Family
| Womenshealthline.in| UPDATED: August 31, 2017, 11:34 AM IST
Handbook For Talking To Your Teenage Child On Sensitive Issues (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Martin Dimitrov/ Istock.com)
Teenage is a very sensitive age, this is the age of pubertal onset and along with it comes many changes - physically, mentally and emotionally. Teenage is also a very vulnerable period in a child’s life. Moreover, this is the time when you realize, you and your teen are two different world altogether. You both have two different perspectives that are conflicting, and create a giant disconnect that can make communicating a real mystery. And the more you push your kid, the more defensive he/she may get.

Teens make mistakes. They do things they shouldn’t. But isn’t this what all of us do at some point or the other. Instead of scolding or punishing them, it is our duty as an adult to help them learn from their mistakes.
In this age of advancement, a child’s life is mediated heavily by social media and technology. Therefore, it is important as well as necessary for you to have an open conversation with your child.

Here are few ways which are really helpful for communicating with kids through the difficult adolescent years.

Being on the same page and establishing trust

Things tend get a little awkward when you start tough conversation. And that’s okay, it’s quite natural. But this awkwardness will also make your teen want to end the conversation as soon as possible.
That’s why being on the same page is important. You can do this by telling them an embarrassing story, or open up about a mistake you recently made. This will surely make you uncomfortable at first, but it will help in building a rapport with your child. That’s how trust is established.
Do not make the mistake of lecturing them. Kids are used to people talking to them differently just because they are young. You don’t want to be the same for your child. Share with them your mistakes, and what you learned from it and let them share some of their own.

Telling your kids about consent

Discussing consent with your child in a way that acknowledges its various facets is very important for the growth of the child. When they become adults, the way they have learned about consent as a child will also inform how they will interact with other adults and children in their own interpersonal relationships.

You can start educating your child about consent and empowerment as early as 1 year old and continue into the college years. Teach them how to ask for consent, let them know that consent can be given or taken away anytime, discuss the importance of NO and help them understand the difference between non-response and enthusiastic consent.

Telling your sons as well as daughters about menstruation

Teaching your kids about menstruation is not all Indian moms are comfortable with. Most of them feel that the children will learn it from their peers, teachers or figure it out themselves. However, it is necessary to enlighten not just your daughters, but also your sons about the changes that will occur in their body as well as of the different sex. Explain them why periods occur, use of sanitary pads, the physical discomfort and hormonal changes associated with periods.

There is so strong social taboo associated with menstruation that even in twenty-first century people do not freely talk about it and feel embarrassed. Instead by bringing awareness about this topic, make your daughter feel comfortable about the changes that will happen in her body. Your daughter won’t be startled if one day she starts bleeding or your son won’t think periods are yucky.

Talking about sex and pornography

Due to internet, pornography is now available to anyone of any age at any location. In fact, the average age of exposure to porns have gone down to 11 years old. Thus, talking about sex and porns have become even more necessary for parents today. Pornography has become the major source of providing sex education for young people, what is scarier, that this has users more likely to support violence against women. Moreover, it has created unrealistic expectations about sex for both men and women.

Talk to your child about how pornography is made up just like movies or TV series, and how they do not represent actual sexual intercourse; the bodies of porn stars are surgically and hormonally enhanced, give examples of healthy portrayals of sex and how to satisfy their needs through masturbation. Also, talk to them about how sex becomes enjoyable when it’s consensual and done safely by using contraceptives such as condoms and birth control pills.

Letting your kids know that you will always be ears

It can be difficult sometimes but, no matter how hard it is, try to start all interactions with your child with understanding, even if you don’t fully agree or even quite comprehend what they are talking about. Keep your emotions out of the conversation, even if you may not like how your child is behaving or thinking. We know it is tough, but there is no reason for you to be mad at them for being themselves. You have to guide them and this won’t be possible if you don’t hear things out. Do not impose yourself, ask meaningful questions that will get them to consider their actions.
Sometimes, all a kid want is someone to hear out his/her problems. Make your child feel that you are and will always be there to listen to his problems without passing your opinions.
First Published: August 28, 2017, 9:19 AM IST
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