Shaping the Behaviour of Teenagers

The other day I read a very interesting debate in one of the national dailies. It was about today’s teenagers and their behaviour. Rough, aggressive and I-care-a-damn attitude. Are parents to be blamed? One party said yes and stated their reasons. The other said no and stated their reasons. The arguments of both the sides were equally right and equally convincing.I posed the question to myself. I would like to put forth the same question to my readers and would welcome their replies or experiences. I think first, not all teenagers can be classified as such. Believe me some of them are extremely well-behaved — a little uncommon today, respectful to elders, dignified and in their own language ‘pretty cool’.

Now the other lot: are parents responsible? It is wrong to answer in one word, yes or no. Because the right answer needs to be seen in the frame. I think the overall responsibility for the wrong behaviour will have to be shared between the child’s own self, parents, teachers and the society .

If we consider the poor class or lower socio-economic class, we find one member earning and many mouths to feed. The father comes home in the late evenings, at times drunk and certainly tired. The mother, tired of the different demands of her children and trying to make the two ends meet may end up fighting at night, resulting in he hammering her. The son witnesses this when it happens too often. The anger, frustration in the child keeps on building. At sometime it has to explode and explode it does. Who is to blame?

At times one or both parents are abroad, the grand parents cannot exercise full control on the grand children. Plus a bike at his disposal and free flow of money. No hand is powerful enough to exercise the right amount of control and give them loving guidance at the same time. The teenager drifts in the wrong direction. Who is to blame?

Many children in schools or colleges show this aggressive behaviour. Their teachers or professors should handle this and guide them well by explaining to them their responsibility making them aware of their strengths and the pitfalls in life. Utilizing the services of a behaviour support specialist can help. Of course I don’t expect teenagers to be meek and obedient. But, let that thought process begin in their own minds. This is the age when they are being aware of their strengths, stamina, zeal for life, love for speed and life in the fast lane. All this occurs because of the hormones working overtime and that is natural. Do not expect them to stop all this, but teach them to control things. At times teachers are not aware of the great influence they might have on them.

I know Mr and Mrs A, middle-aged, soft-spoken, god-fearing couple, well-behaved — the type I would love to have as neighbours. One of their sons fell in bad company and became the right opposite of the parents. He smokes, drinks, but hopefully not in drugs as yet. ‘I want to be different’ they say. Yes. he is different because he is in bad company. It is his responsibility to choose friends, shape his character and ultimately his future. Volleyballing the responsibility will not help.

I have also said that partial responsibility also lies on the society in which he lives. In the previous generation there used to be joint families. Grand parents, uncles, aunties, plus some more relations in the same house living harmoniously. So the child or teenager was never alone. He would be closer to more than one person — may be to a grand mother or an aunty.

And lots of children to play with in the house itself. Thus lessons of sharing and caring were learnt very early. Games like cricket, football, cycling, climbing upon trees gave vent to the extra physical energy. Aunties and grandmothers would tell stories of Ramayan, Mahabharat, Shivaji, etc and the grandfather, (though boring at that age) would tell stories of freedom struggle, Gandhiji, Nehru, British rule and the Independence day of 1947 without knowing that they were shaping the child and his future.

Today, there are small two bedroom flats and not many stories to listen to, parents too busy, no outdoor games and too much of cable TV — that is nuclear families for you. What is the outlet for the child who is already burdened with too many study hours. This is what I mean by the society’s role. By now I am a little confused. Too many questions. Not many answers. May be some readers can help.

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