My current mission in life is raising a happy teenager. Parenting teenagers with love and logic involves ensuring their mental as well as physical health, what with all the pressures they have to handle in their busy young lives.
So for my parenting post at Parentous this week, I decided to recap what we’re doing to keep our son happy, healthy and stress-free as he juggles his daily schedule. Obviously, it involves a lot of practicing what we preach and I love that because it is a great way for all of us to nudge each other when one of us lags behind. The joy and laughter that accompanies these push-pull situations is absolutely enjoyable.
Parenting teenagers with love and logic
….with special focus on health:
Mission: Raising One Happy Teenager
Now that the excitement of Class X results has abated, a new era begins. Coaching classes, time management blues and oh, yes, school! Class XI is a crazy time for the 15-year-old. Most of them, depending on the subjects they choose or the curriculum they have studied in are likely to step into “college” while others like my son choose to continue in the same school for the next two years.
A number of these students are no strangers to coaching classes – since a majority aim for professional courses whose entrance exams are tough to crack. Thanks to an institute that offers coaching classes for these joint entrance exams that approached the school to choose a handful of meritorious students for free coaching, our son also goes to a coaching class.
Needless to say (but I have to say it anyway) time is super tight. We’re enjoying the last week of his school holidays before the academic year begins next week.
While I am quite sure that after the initial time management struggles he will settle down to the new routine, I have to confess that I secretly freak out thinking of how he is going to juggle school, school work, coaching classes, and the related assignments and tests and music class with practice sessions. Oh, not to forget his hobbies, being an avid reader and devoted artist.
As my head silently reels, I am thinking of ways to keep him mentally and physically healthy so that he can handle the various pressures that go with his territory with ease. I realize we must have a broad daily schedule that will help him pack in all that he wants to do.
Here’s what I have on my list – we do most of these things, but find that it is always a good idea to revisit! I am not going to talk about food since that is a given.
1. Practice what we preach as parents
Make sure we go for that walk
As working parents, our stress levels fluctuate between high and higher, so we consciously have ways to minimize it. We do this by getting enough exercise. We’re blessed with a beautiful lake and a walking area around it and make sure we go for that walk at least four times a week. This takes care of together time where we get to talk and share things and exercise. Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress.
2. Get enough sleep
If there is one way to guarantee good health, it is getting enough sleep. We are often guilty of staying up late to finish pending stuff, but now we have a house rule that we’ll go to bed at a specific time because no matter when we sleep, I am up at 5.30 am and the others are up at 6.30 am.
Teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep for good mental health and to stay sharp. It helps them handle the day better. My son makes sure he is in bed latest by 10 pm so that he can be up around 6.30 – 6.45 am.
Being busy is not the same as being fit
While it looks like I covered this in the first point, that was about stress. This one is specifically about exercise for him. Being busy is not the same as being fit. Physical activity is a must for growing kids. It relieves stress and keeps them in a good mood.
Our son ensures he gets at least one hour every day – stretching, jogging and walking, besides games at school. Then there are those household chores he helps with that count just a wee bit.
4. Don’t give up hobbies
Everyone needs a creative vent and children are no exception. When they lose themselves in their favorite hobbies, they are mentally healthy, happy, and energized. Our son is devoted to music and is in his eighth year of music school. He also enjoys sketching and reading. We enjoy the results.
I know a lot of people believe that Grades 11 and 12 must be focused on studying, but it should not be to the exclusion of relaxation. We are not raising zombies.
5. Give them space
Why should growing up be hard?
I’ve always believed in facilitating rather than pushing – God knows today’s teenager has enough stress to handle. Why should growing up be hard? Besides physical space of their own, growing children need mental space.
Space to be quiet, where they can let their thoughts wander, dream and regroup their energies. Space to let them look within and feel good about themselves.
6. Encourage them to talk
Out of our heads, problems always look smaller
While space is essential, so is communication. We encourage our son to share his problems. So maybe we can’t always solve them, but it always helps to get it out in the open. Out of our heads, problems always look smaller. Bottling up is bad for health.
Talking reduces anxiety. I also encourage my son to email me or his Dad whenever he likes. The sheer novelty of doing it has built a nice and cozy channel of communication between us.
7. Dual routines
We have a routine for school days and a different one for days when the evening is free. Strangely, weekends are the busiest. The three days when the evening is free are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays and we make sure they are devoted to together time as much as possible. They are also evenings for connecting with neighbors, visiting friends or the local welfare home.
Life will always have something to worry about. Coping is a necessity. But so is having fun in the process.
After all, healthy child, happy child, right? And parenting teenagers with love and logic is the only way!
I’d love to hear your comments/tips.
Right now, my biggest challenge is keeping my sanity as my son hounds me with the housework list I made. I am letting good sense prevail as I delegate *wink*! Yep – I am holding that thought about parenting teenagers with love and logic!
Am I blessed or what?