I have always found the Parent Teacher Sessions to be the most interesting of all school events, albeit tiring. It is where we finally meet the spectrum of parents behind the many teenagers of whom I have the pleasure of teaching. After more than 5 years, I realise these parents often face similar issues and complaints with their teens who may need more help in behaviour. So should we do to let them see the light? Here are 5 tips:

1) Confiscate their Handphones before Bed

In puberty, shifts in our body clocks push optimal sleep later into the evening, making it extremely difficult for most teenagers to fall asleep before 11.00pm. The handphones, which have become the teenagers’ main staple of entertainment, are certainly not helping things either as many of them turn to WhatsApp and FB to chat late into the nights. When this is coupled with early morning routines,  this may results in chronically sleep-deprived and cranky teens as well as plummeting grades and health problems.

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2) Fathers, Your Children Need You

For some of the parent teacher sessions, I notice that some fathers tend to take the back seat in disciplining and looking after their child. Needless to say, these teenagers are the ones who end up with worst anger management and emotional issues, especially girls. These teenagers often bring their anger with them wherever they go and behave extremely defiantly to teachers – under the facade of ego.  There have been many studies which showed that teenagers whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behaviour problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older — even among socio-economically at-risk families.

3) If your Teen has a Hostile or Aggressive personality, ban Violent Video Games Immediately

Most parents will think of this rule as a no-brainer but this situation occurs more commonly than one thinks. When we broach the subject of linking to video games, many parents insist that they do not have game consoles at home and thus, their teenagers can’t possibly be exposed to them. It isn’t only after checking their smartphones that they are hit with the realisation that there are many such games on it too. Numerous studies have shown that violent video games  do alter the behaviour of the teens. In fact, it takes 2-3 months for teenagers to change to see the world in a more aggressive way, and became more verbally and physically aggressive later in the school year. Higher aggression and lower pro-social behavior are more likely to cause these students to be rejected by their peers.

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4) Check if Your Teen is drinking Alcohol on the Sly

Most of us know the ill-effects of alcohol – even adolescents – and that is what makes the ‘forbidden fruit’ even more tempting. Most of my students have tasted alcohol at least once by the time they are secondary two and what makes it more frightening is how easy it is for them to purchase alcohol with the help of their older ex-schoolmates. What many of them do not know is that alcohol actually changes the brain chemistry. It decreases the decision making greatly area of the brain and these effects do not disappear overnight. Rather, they stay with the drinker for months to come.

5) Ease up on your Control… Somewhat

If parents believe that being extremely controlling is the key to have well-behaved children, they may be in for a shock. Authoritarian parents whose child-rearing style can be summed up as “it’s my way or the highway” are more likely to raise disrespectful, delinquent children who do not see them as legitimate authority figures than authoritative parents who listen to their children and gain their respect and trust. At this age, most teenagers are undergoing the search of identity and interestingly, the meaning AND making sense of life. When parents over-control, most teenagers find themselves extremely repressed without an outlet to find out who they are. This often results in them either take it out on themselves through cutting of wrists, indulge in risky behaviour such as sex and smoking or turn extremely rebellious.