Our teenagers are going through a lot. They’re faced with dramatic changes to their bodies through puberty, new academic challenges, and new social pressures as they approach adulthood.
It falls on both parents and school to address their fundamental relationship needs, to keep them grounded and provide them with support through this important phase of their development.
Because of this growing phase, though, a lot of the ways that adults would traditionally express positive relationships will not produce positive results with teenagers. The means of adapting to their relationship needs can seem somewhat counter-intuitive.
This blog entry seeks to provide insight into how schools, especially Swiss International School in Dubai, fulfill these needs, and how parents can do their own part as well.
As parents, you want to be able to illustrate to your teenagers that you’re always there for them. However, in trying to do this, you may hit a snag.
For a variety of complex social and developmental reasons, teenagers often don’t respond well to verbal and physical affection. This may come as a shock and uncomfortable reality to parents, who would’ve grown accustomed to their little boy or girl always wanting hugs or kisses, or always saying “I love you.” This is especially true with many teenage boys.
If your teenager demonstrates this behavior, it may be better to show written messages and validation rather than showing affection outright. You can opt to display post-it notes on their door or your refrigerator. Show encouraging, loving, and supporting messages that they’ll appreciate, and which will help them get through a tough day.
This is an especially effective way of conveying your care during periods of after-school restraint collapse, when your child becomes moody and miserable after classes. This phenomenon isn’t restricted to young children, and may manifest in teenagers.
Schools like Swiss International School in Dubai are well-equipped to provide care for our teenage students who are going through similar developmental phases.
One of the most important problems that we particularly deal with is the complex balance between power and authority. While power is the influence wielded to keep obediently students in line, authority is the pervasive idea in teenagers’ heads that an institution, or a representative of that institution such as a teacher, is respectable enough to follow.
We become authoritative in our students’ minds because we provide them with care. And not just any kind of care – pastoral care, a holistic care environment that nurture them in mind and body, enough that they feel like SISD is a second home to them.
We also offer a “listening space,” so to speak, that promotes positive mental health and allows any of our students to see teachers and staff as approachable.
Our School Counselor, Ms. Saskia Theres, believes that positivity is one of the main goals of any relationship that SISD maintains with its students. “It is essential that our teenagers learn to move away from negativity and pessimism to positivity and optimism. Having an optimistic mindset changes the way a person sees the world and helps evaluate an uncomfortable situation better. It helps a person see the positive in everything, which can be a big game changer in a person’s state of mind and mood.”
SISD promotes this positivity and optimism through what is known as a solution-focused therapeutic approach. Miss Theres says, “This type of approach steps away from the negative and pessimistic viewpoint of a situation and focuses on a solution to the situation. Finding a solution is already optimistic as you step away from what is wrong, the problem, and focus on a goal-oriented solution. Being goal-oriented means that the person is automatically focusing on the present and the future with only referring back to the past, the problem, as a ‘glitch in the system.’ Supporting teenagers with solution-based therapy helps them recognize that there is a positive in everything; you just need to want to see it.”