Teenage is an important period in everyone's life. We have come past it; many are going through it; many will go through it. In the early years of life, say, from 2 years to 4 years, parents cannot really make out whether their child will grow up to be shy, lonely, detached from everyone. During their growing up and reaching teenage, even if the parents see any hint of these, they ignore them completely. In fact, the parents try to scold them saying, "I was also your age once, I was not shy; so why are you like this" or "If you behave like this, I will scold you in front of everyone" or "Your siblings are not like this; why are you so" or "Oh God, what am I going to do with this child; our prestige gets punctured whenever she/he accompanies us anywhere" and many more statements like this. Don't the parents want to understand why the child is growing up or has grown up to be like this?
Let me try to analyse the reasons briefly as to where a child can totally clam up:
- Abused or bullied daily in school or college because of subdued behaviour, parents, dress sense, looks, lunch pack, etc (whatever reasons the bullies would find to bully) which the teenager keeps on hearing, locks them up inside and daily cries silently to bed wishing that he/she does not have to go to school or college again or find excuses for not wanting to go. This clams up the teenager and he/she stays like this except when some external force tries to help (which may not be often).
Parents, I am sure, can see the changes in the teenager and should try to find out the reasons for such a behaviour. Initially, the teenager won't speak up but it is up to the parents how to delve into the issue and find solutions. No parents would like to see their teenagers suffering from mental agony. But one request, do not get angry, scold them or say something which will lower the teenager's self-esteem or start comparing the teenager with other children (with specially the ones who are younger to him/her). Remember, not everyone is the same.
- Many feel a sense of insecurity which becomes very difficult for them to explain or for parents to understand. There can be many reasons for insecurity - not being loved or cared for; too much of parental strictness; comparisons with other siblings where this insecured teenager is made to feel very weak; always trying to put the teenager down in front of others; tiffs and daily rows between the parents; not accepted by the step-mother or step-father; parents not giving enough time; and many more reasons can be found out. This either leads to shyness, loneliness or the teenager becomes very vindictive about life and the society as a whole.
Parents, never ever make your teenager feel unwanted or unimportant at all. Insecured feelings eat up a teenager from within and then, he/she looks out for someone (other than the parents or siblings) to help him/her come out of this state. Remember, the teenager is yours and you have to make him/her feel secured; no one else can do it.
Apart from these, the other factors for clamming up are :
- being made fun of by the younger siblings.
- being picked up for little things by the elder siblings.
- being always scolded for little things by the parents and the grandparents.
- always being asked to follow a routine.
- Being verbally attacked by elders (other than the parents) regarding the child's nature or study or any small things and trying to put the child down in front of the parents and other siblings.
Normally, it is seen that teenagers become very sensitive to their immediate surroundings and finally, grow up being very aggressive and conflicting which further, pose problems in the relationships they go into or for that matter, with any one they come in contact with.
So, before your child grows into a teenager,
- love them and show how much you care for them and your shoulders are always ready for them to cry on. This will develop a loving bond between you and your child.
- link between the child and society needs to be developed so that the child does not get any inferiority complex or feel, at any point of time, left out.
- do not be angry with them for silly little mistakes; in fact, explain to them how and where they went wrong.
- put them in variety situations and see how they react to them. This is one important aspect.
- do not compare them with any other children, especially, with the ones younger to them.
- request the other elders in the family or who visits you on and off (like aunties, uncles), not to talk about your child in front of him/her. If they have anything to say or advice, they can personally communicate with you.
Already got a headache reading this?? Well, this headache is temporary but think of that headache which will manifest permanently in you if you do not go in depth to find out why your teenager is shy, lonely, and find solutions for him/her to come out of it and see the brighter, colourful side of life.
The Identity Trap: Saving Our Teens from Themselves
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