Thursday, 26 March 2015


The Rebellious Teen

Analysing the recent issues being reported to our helpline (1098) a fresh realization is that there is much more problems faced by children of single parents compared to children who have both parents. As Kerala is presently ‘the divorce capital of Asia’ there is an ever increasing number of single parents and their children.  Most single parents find it difficult to manage their children and often are at a loss at guiding the defiant teenager.

Researchers have several theories to explain why children growing up with single parents have an elevated risk of experiencing cognitive, social, and emotional problems. Most refer either to the economic and parental resources available to children or to the stressful events and circumstances to which these children must adapt regardless of family structure. The quality of parenting is one of the best predictors of children's emotional and social well-being. Many single parents, however, find it difficult to function effectively as parents. 

Inept parenting by single parents produce a variety of negative outcomes among children, including poor academic achievement, emotional problems, conduct problems, low self-esteem, substance abuse and problems forming and maintaining social relationships. Children living with single parents are exposed to more stressful experiences and circumstances. The single male parent often are not able to guide and direct girl children especially in giving proper direction regarding growth stages. The work schedule often tussles with caring for children. The female single parent often find it extremely difficult to manage an irate male teenager. The children often get into unwanted relationships or end up becoming substance abusers.

There are often simple things which are left out which if done earlier, could produce a well integrated teenager. It is important to discuss the developmental stages of children to understand the same.

Child developmental stages can broadly be divided in to three stages, early childhood stage, childhood stage and teen/adolescents stage.

  At the stage of early childhood children need constant care as they are susceptible to accidents and are almost fully dependent on their parents. It is also a time of active exploration of their environment.     Language development takes major leaps which leads to learning the names of objects of interest, the ability to ask for things and as they discover their independent nature.  It is the stage where parents give their children a lot of care as they need lots of support in walking, talking and exploring.

Second stage of childhood is the age of impressions. Here they create impressions on what they observe. This is a stage where children are often left free by parents as they will report everything that happens to them at school and where ever they go to their parents and they are the heroes for children at this stage. As children are least problematic at this stage least care is given to them. This is the greatest mistake made by parents. If good impressions are received, it forms good future for children. In our homes when parents are busy, they will just open the Television or video games for children to occupy and they receive just the wrong impressions from these experiences. Televisions and video games often have over 90 percent of adult content. The wrong impressions create wrong world view and they often become unmanageable at the adolescent stage.

At this level, parents need to impart a moral code that the child gradually internalizes.  As children struggle with important tasks parents must be able to provide praise and encouragement and corrections whenever necessary. It is also the stage when the child needs most care but unfortunately we provide least care.

At the stage of teen/adolescents, children express what impressed them in the previous stage. There is no doubt that for most families, the teen years present a challenge for both parents and children. It is often fraught with scary body changes, bullying by peers and a new surge for independence.  This leads to passive-aggressive behaviour (“I’ll do it in a minute”), self-consciousness (“What are you staring at?”) and self-doubt (“I’m not good at anything.”) and/or over-confidence (“Well, I thought I could do that.”) and of course moodiness (“Leave me alone.”). 

Take very good care of your child in the second stage of development and you will get a teen who will give you peace of mind after your hectic work schedule; Leave your angel child (second stage) unattended and you are sure to lose your job when your child grows to be a teenager!