Quarantine is the best time to connect emotionally with adolescent children. For this, Dr. Sergio Arques Egea, specialist in Psychiatry, explains that it is key to have a proactive attitude and, above all, to avoid reactive responses. Respecting individuality, giving affection and empathizing are some of the key points to meet the needs of an adolescent. With these premises, confinement has given the possibility of achieving this connection with the children by having a greater emotional availability on the part of the parents.
Families are in charge of meeting all the emotional needs that arise in their children at all stages of their development. Adolescence is a key point in which parents must have enough confidence in their sons and daughters and show it to them so that they can develop emotionally and thus be ready to be self-sufficient. Even though it is a complicated task, these peculiar moments experienced during confinement have been seen as ideal to begin to create this bond.
In the Western world in which we live, adolescent independence is encouraged by the stressful and frenetic way we face life. Adolescents often seek their emotional independence outside the family environment, usually among friends or through new technologies. When this happens, they are giving up the emotional guidance that parents should provide, something that over time can become detrimental.
Bringing out the positive side of confinement
It would not be appropriate for a teenager to withdraw emotionally from his parents, nor would it be appropriate for his parents to allow it, as it would be a clear sign of a damaged relationship. A teenager needs you emotionally and there is a positive side to a confinement. This time allows us the opportunity to reconnect emotionally with our children and communicate. It is a very important task, both for them and for all parents. Situations such as, for example, private isolation in their room during confinement can be avoided. It is part of the life process to want to feel independent, but that does not mean that an adolescent still needs his or her parents emotionally.
True educational action will occur when there is good communication and a mutually helpful relationship is established. The most valuable thing is to realize that the adolescent wants to be independent in order to reinforce his or her identity, but at no time does this mean that he or she does not want to be with his or her family members.
However, before engaging in this emotional “battle”, parents must prepare themselves and for this they must be clear about the main objectives and what they want to achieve with their adolescents, for example, fostering self-confidence; valuing their progress and achievements; expressing family acceptance and affection; creating expectations adjusted to their abilities; teaching self-control by establishing limits and feasible rules or helping them to mature by assuming the risk that children must make mistakes in order to learn.
Parents should be very clear about their objectives in order to start a good path of emotional connection with their children who are in adolescence. The first is to know that when the adolescent is irritable, parents should not take it personally and should remain calm. Secondly, it is highly recommended to try to be proactive most of the time and avoid reactive responses, as these will alienate us from our child.
Negotiation, active listening and positive reinforcement are some of the bases to achieve a profitable communication between parents and children. On the contrary, reactive parents fail to establish useful communication channels, since they tend not to listen and lecture; they prioritize what they want to say over what the adolescent wants to say and invalidate emotions.
Respecting their individuality
One of the most essential points is not to judge or criticize them. It is important to respect the thoughts and ideas that adolescents have, even if they are not ours and we do not share them. The essential thing is to value and recognize their characteristics. In this way we will avoid fighting, we will be able to see who he really is, his concerns, his feelings and he in turn will feel respect and trust from his parents, which is key to emotional rapprochement.
Listening and empathizing
Empathizing with the feelings of an adolescent is essential. Before giving them advice without them having asked for it, the most important thing is to listen to what the young person wants to say or transmit in order to empathize. This will make the adolescent much more receptive to our words and make them feel respected and valued. If advice is given before they have even heard it, it will convey the opposite message to the one intended. The adolescent will feel that he or she is seen as incapable of solving problems on his or her own.
Although sometimes rejection by the adolescent is difficult to manage, the affection and love that can be transmitted to them can move mountains and physical contact becomes essential. Hearing that they are loved and giving them human warmth with hugs or kisses can become a balm for them, since they feel a crucial part of the family and values are transmitted to them that they end up perpetuating and that they will later transmit to others.
An adolescent needs to feel free to talk to his parents whenever he needs to, and there is no need to pressure them to talk because they will never do so. This is why it is especially important to look for effective ways to be close to the adolescent child at times such as during a confinement. It is necessary to take advantage of moments such as teleworking, exercise at home or household chores to find that proximity. Sometimes nothing more is needed than to tell them “call me if you need me and I’ll be there for you as soon as I can”. This is the most effective way for adolescents to feel most important to their parents and to be emotionally available.