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Parent Quiz

 

HELPING THE ADOLESCENT DEVELOP LIFE SKILLS

Effective sex education is not only one which informs and educates, forms attitudes and beliefs, but also helps the adolescent develop life skills. While informing your daughter about the facts of life, about sex and sexuality, it is critical that she is helped to develop the following skills which will empower her in the days to come, and without which the information will be of not much use anyway.
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Skills in communication and listening : These are especially significant during the adolescent years. Misunderstandings and conflicts would be greatly reduced, if you are able to recognize and practice the tenets of effective communication, and help your daughter develop them too.
Active listening - Stop whatever you are doing and pay full attention. Make eye contact and use an expression that shows interest. Your child will know that she is worth listening to and that what she says is important to you.
Asking - Finding out what your child thinks about something is also an effective way to commence a dialogue and reduce conflict. You are implying that you are willing to listen to and understand her point of view. It also helps to minimize misnotions by asking and clarifying what the other person means.
Talking - Communicate clearly by stating what you want to say. Respond to your child's questions as promptly and accurately as possible. Articulate your feelings and thoughts. How will your daughter know that you care if you do not tell her?
Non verbal communication - Many a time, just a touch, a smile or a hug goes a long way in communicating your feelings. Use them freely.
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Negotiation skills : Extremely essential for adolescents. It means that your daughter should learn to deal with a problem or resolve a conflict essentially through dialogue. She also needs to understand that it usually involves some give and take by both parties involved. For instance, while discussing family rules with your adolescent, both of you will need to negotiate. Similarly, many concerns related to relationships can be resolved through effective negotiations.
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Decision-making skills : An extremely important skill needed by
adolescents. Especially in the present times, young people need to start making decisions related to a host of issues - studies, relationships, sex, drug abuse, alcohol, or smoking. Since these could have lasting effects on their lives, they need skills to make informed choices and thereby decide. Some of the steps towards decision making include assessing the situation, identifying the alternatives available, considering the outcome of these alternatives and thereafter deciding on a certain course of action.
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Skills of assertiveness and the ability to say 'no' : Yet another skill that is immensely pertinent for your adolescent. She will have to face numerous situations when she has to be firm and assertive, refuse to do certain acts because principally, she does not believe in them. This means being able to stand up, against any opposition, for one's own principles, values and beliefs. It is distinct from aggressiveness, which is more confrontationist.
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Being able to ask for and identify sources of help and advice : From adults - including parents, careers and professionals. This is ingrained from the start, when you ensure that your daughter can approach you and other adults, when she is confused or scared, when she needs something, anything, without any fear of reprimand or criticism.

All these skills need to be developed from the start. It is not possible to teach your teenager to be assertive, when all through her growing years you have taught her not to question any form of authority. If you have taken most of the decisions, small and big, on your daughter's behalf so far, do not expect her to be decisive almost overnight. For their own good in later life, it is necessary to allow our children to question and express their opinions, to teach them not to blindly accept adult authority, especially if felt to be unfair or amiss. This is very distinct from obnoxious and precocious behaviour displayed by a child and should be treated as such.