Last week, my daughter showed off a new game they learnt in school.
It was a game that started with keeping all your fingers open on the table. There is a run of words and one finger is closed at the end of a sentence. The end ran something like this- Only the middle finger remained and the words led to something like ‘ I killed someone because he showed me the middle finger’.
This was followed by her telling me (in a highly conspiratorial tone) — “Amma, do you know what this means (holding up her middle finger)? This means, ‘F***er'” When I probed further to ask her what it meant, “It’s a bad word, ma!” Apparently, she didn’t know any further.
She is in third grade.
I will be truthful here and tell you that I was always expecting this (rather, something like this). This wasn’t exactly out of the blue. It’s just that, I didn’t expect it so early. Well, let’s face the truth. Most of what children learn is picked from up from the playground, some ‘discovery’ their friend made, from the movies, from their bullies… In short, most of what children learn is influenced by the peer group.
Our job, as parents, is to remove all barriers to their telling us what they are learning and knowing–every single day.
Most parents of adolescents face the singular fear of losing the channel of communication they so easily enjoyed with them when they are younger–once they are teens.
The top reason for this is that parents have no clue what’s going on in their teen’s brain. The changes are real and they behave the way they do for a reason.
Another big reason is that adolescents themselves have no clue what’s going on with them. They are beginning to discover their own sexuality. They are feeling things they have never felt before and most don’t even know if it is normal.
Of course, they will eventually find out–parents, or not.
With Valentine’s day fast approaching, love seems to be in the air. While your teen is dreaming up dates, you are probably biting in your nails in worry.
Studies reveal that teens who share open conversations about sex are more likely to delay sexual activity and practise safer sex. Here are some things that parents can do to ensure your teenager comes to you first — at least in difficult times.
1. Start early: Start revealing age-appropriate information to kids from an early age. Never shy away from giving out information especially when it concerns their own bodies.
2. Avoid euphemisms for body parts: Using real names of body parts, instead of euphemisms like ‘pee-pee’, ‘wee-wee’, etc. is shown to promote positive body-image. When children can’t talk about it without feeling shameful, there’s little chance that they will talk at all. Plus, it prevents danger in many ways.
3. Be role models: Children need to see that
Children learn by example. So set them a good one. Let them see that it is not shameful to show affection in positive ways. Children whose parents show a healthy bonding and relationship are more likely to have long stable, engaging relationships with their spouses. Its healthy for children to witness appropriate physical affection between their parents. Exchange spontaneous hugs, quick pecks and warm compliments frequently. Leave little loves notes to him or her around the house. Amy Morin, Teen counselling expert, recommends that parents demonstrate positive aspects of sex to help the child cope with their changing selves better.
Lastly, trust your child and say “I Love You” often.