As parents we teach our kids to mimic our voices and say our name and call out for their fathers, mothers and siblings. They also learn other motor skills – using a spoon, wearing clothes, combing their hair by watching us. This learning continues all their lives and more so when kids are in their teens. They learn from people around who they spend most of their time – us, their parents. It thus makes sense that most of their bad habits can be easily curtailed by us. Here is a list of habits teens pickup from parents and how to prevent & maybe overcome them.
This addiction is hugely prevalent across all ages. Kids see their fathers on the phone all day even if it might be for work. Housewives or work from home moms do the same, be it on Instagram or work related. Mobiles are highly addictive and kids pick that up very early in life.
Fix : Prevent using your mobiles during family time – meals, outings, off-work hours. Give physical toys to kids to keep them occupied. Engage them with nature while feeding them as that is the main reason for their addiction.
Cursing / Swearing
When was the last time you swore in shock/awe with kids around. Phrases like WTF, Oh F***, Bullshit, Kuthiya (कुतिया), Jaa mar (जा मार), etc. They come out instinctively and even if its said once it can be picked up and kids use it with their friends and becomes a habit.
Fix : The best fix would be to stop using these phrases yourself, it makes you a better human. Also explain to your kid that this accounts to bad and socially unacceptable behavior.
Substance abuse starts off with smaller things like pain killers (head ache, stomach upset, etc). Pills being freely available in India its a reality. With parents having migraine issues, grandparents who pop a pill for every small ache, teens use similar excuses to take a time out from school or outing with family making it a habit. Overprotective parents don’t help the matter. Teens now-a-days always carry pills in their school bag for headaches, tummy aches, dysmenorrhea and pop them like candy !
Fix : Nature has a way, let it heal small ailments. Keep close watch on pills for common ailments and track their usage. As a kid when I used a tummy ache to skip school, a rapt response was to take me to a doc for a prick !
As a kid snack for me was a bowl of cut veggies (carrot, sprouts, peas) with lemon/salt sprinkled to make it tangy. Now its Lays chips, KFC chicken nuggets, french fries. A favorite meal of mine was Aalu paratha with curd and pappad, now its double cheese pizza & burgers. A drink on a hot day was home made sharbath, now it is diet coke. And the taste buds are kindled by us by hyping up these fast foods.
Fix : Put in that extra effort and for your next family TV time set out a bowl of veggies instead of that packet of chips, drive them to a juice shop rather than the subway. Eat healthy with them and lessen the hype of a fast food joint.
Teenagers around puberty start noticing their bodies in ways they have not done before. Their harmones act on their head and they become self conscious about the way they look and give more importance to physical appearance than personality and even health. This is enhanced when parents pay undue attention to their looks and lifestyle magazines more than whats required.
Fix : Educate teens about the importance of character. What they achieve matters more than how they look. Looking good is nice, but its what they do with their life which defines them.
Procrastination / Laziness
Packing your bags the night before you are travelling, putting off cleaning your wardrobe till its a huge bundle of mess, watch out cos your kids are.
Fix : Set and example, teach them ‘A fix in time, saves nine !‘
Overuse of sarcasm
They say intelligent people use sarcasm to communicate, but it wreaks my nerves when kids use it on me, plus its quite rude and accounts to bullying. Using phrases like “Very Good” when something naughty happens does account for sarcasm.
Fix : Reprimand using positive. You wouldn’t want them to repeat what you say in public.
Wrong TV shows
Lets admit it Game Of Thrones is a great TV show, but I don’t want my kid watching it, it makes no sense without the sleaze. Jokes apart, a serial which only shows a MIL going after her daughter-in-law need not be in the syllabus of your kid. The only take away from these serials is that married life is bad and the world is evil. Nothing positive to take away. A show like Forged in Fire tickles the creativity in the child.
Fix : Watch shows that will help your child hone his skills at the same time is entertaining.
A white lie does not harm or so we are told, until someone hits us with it. We use it to sneak out of silly situations from our in-laws or work, but the all seeing eye of our teens are watching and absorbing it all in. It is taken as acceptance since you can do it. If you are running late and say you are on the way, the kids will do the same with you.
Fix : Ensure teens know that lying is bad. It has no long term benefits. Practice what you preach.
Shoe from Adidas, bag from Prada, Swarovski earrings wont build character. Its another way of them relying on a weak body image. They tend to judge people based on what they possess rather than who they are. Pegging a person to the length of the car that drops them off to school and not who they are.
Fix : Educate them about value of things, rather than cost of a product. A woodlands shoe last longer, hence more costly and still better value for money. A cheap top is good enough for night wear if its soft enough, eating a local cuisine is as good as eating at Dominos, both have its benefits.
Following road rules
We ape the west for its glamour, cleanliness and systems, yet on the roads we are a possessed wild beast. Seat-belts and helmets are for safety, not escaping from fines. Jumping signals doesn’t make you smart (shaana). A speed limit has its purpose, follow it.
Fix : Even deities have a head-gear, lets learn from them. With or without kids, please follow rules.
Keeping healthy in today’s toxic environment is very important, especially if your family has a history of generic ailments like diabetes, cholesterol, kidney stones, etc. Inculcating a habit of exercise is very easy. I grew up seeing my dad exercise daily and I picked up the habit once I started working.
Fix : Enroll your kids in a physical sport, ensure you do stretches daily and hope they pick up on it. Educate kids on ailments of obese relatives and how they got obese (reverse psychologist)
Lack of hygiene
A tidy room, kitchen and loo go a long way in keeping ailments away. Teens brought up in clean and hygienic environments tend to have an aversion to unhygienic places. We cringe at the thoughts of a hostel room where piles of clothes and open food wrappers lie around, no sight of clean clothes or towels.
Fix : Reprimand unhygienic behavior like discarding toffee wrappers around the house, wet towels on the bed, un-kept closet, hair in the loo, etc and practice what you preach.
Princess diaries is a great movie to watch to understand how the noble of yesteryear present themselves, its a great benchmark to set. Most books are still judged by the cover so lets present our best and let our teens learn that early in life.
Fix : Table etiquette, self grooming, they way they sit and tone of their voice is just not for public, its also a way of life.
Goal less life
Perhaps the most meaningless life is the one that doesn’t have a purpose. Empty vessels make the most noise, but a well focused mind does not waver and get distracted with social media vanity, TV shows. As kids we were always asked about our goals in life, many today term it as putting pressure on teens, the flip-side of them being goal less is worse.
Fix : Kindle teenagers towards a goal and keep them focused so they have a big picture and know what will help them what needs to be done in life.
Each point might have a different meaning based on circumstances, yet lets strive to improve our kids where possible to hope they have better lives than we have.