MY TEENAGER IS DIS­OR­GAN­ISED

Friday - - BEAUTY -

QMy son is com­pletely dis­or­gan­ised. He is just 13 and the is­sue is get­ting worse as now he can­not get ready for school in time. He also has a poor at­ti­tude.

APar­ents of teenagers know that 13 can be such a tricky age. Not only do they have a whole host of hor­mones cours­ing through their veins lead­ing to ev­ery­thing from un­pre­dictable mood swings, to in­ter­rupted sleep and phys­i­cal changes. It is both a time of awak­en­ing and a time of loss. Loss of child­hood in­no­cence and the re­al­i­sa­tion that the world is go­ing to de­mand they be­come in­de­pen­dent adults and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for them­selves in a few years, can be over­whelm­ing for young minds to deal with. The dis­or­gan­i­sa­tion that is be­com­ing such a source of con­fronta­tion is the prod­uct of your son’s young mind try­ing to jug­gle all of these new feel­ings and ex­pe­ri­ences and not do­ing a very good job by the sounds of it!

The chal­lenge in­volved in step­ping up to the in­creas­ing de­mands school is putting on him is caus­ing him to buckle un­der pres­sure and his poor at­ti­tude is a re­sponse. What he needs from you is di­rec­tion and to al­low him to fail if needs be.

Now, that sounds as if it runs con­trary to ev­ery par­ent­ing in­stinct, but let me as­sure you, par­ents who al­low their chil­dren to ex­pe­ri­ence the con­se­quences of their own ac­tions are do­ing them a great ser­vice.

I al­ways say fail­ure is one of our great­est teach­ers and al­low­ing fail­ure to oc­cur in a lov­ing and sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment will teach your child that ev­ery ac­tion has a re­ac­tion, whether pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive. This life les­son will be in­valu­able when it comes to him tak­ing per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. It’s not an easy thing to do for any par­ent, but I feel it’s one of the most pow­er­ful and last­ing ways to learn.

So, how do you go about the process? Well, you need a de­gree of clar­ity. You and your hus­band both need to for­mu­late a clear plan about the ex­pec­ta­tions you have for your son in terms of how he goes about his daily life. What does he need to do, tell you and or­gan­ise each week to func­tion ef­fec­tively? Fully ac­quaint your­self with his timetable and any ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties he is in­volved him. Plot them for him on your own weekly timetable and share it with him. Make sure it is not too oner­ous or you will be set­ting him up to fail. Tell him clearly what you ex­pect him to do (this in­cludes any chores in the house) and then once you have de­liv­ered the mes­sage loud and clear, take a step back.

It’s easy at this point for par­ents to step in too soon to pre­vent the child from mess­ing up and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the con­se­quences of their ac­tions, but it’s paramount you let him ex­pe­ri­ence what hap­pens when he forgest books, sports kits and is late. Though the process may be a painful one and you might be on the re­ceiv­ing end of some of his poor at­ti­tude, he will even­tu­ally get the mes­sage. If you’re ever un­sure, ask your­self what the al­ter­na­tive is – you or­gan­ise ev­ery­thing for him and he never learns to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for him­self; no par­ent truly wants that. Your role is to be firm, but fair and above all to be sup­port­ive, re­ward­ing progress when you see it.

RUS­SELL HEMMINGS

is a Dubai-based life­coach and hyp­nother­a­pist

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