The Difficult Teens

Right from childhood to adulthood, a person has to face and tackle several problems, some simple and some tough. Life itself is a challenge. After birth, the child’s needs and requirements are met by the parents. He/she looks up to the mother or father for his/her needs.

The Difficult Teens - Tips To Deal With Teenagers - Behaviour Problems

The brush with reality brings with it a plethora of dilemmas  and conflicts  which the  child is unable to solve. The most important and the most difficult period in a child’s life is the beginning of ‘teens.’ This period is a trying time not only for the child but also for the parents.

It is at this stage that the child is neither an adult nor a child. The child is in an awkward situation. I remember Rabindra Nath Tagore’s story which deals with  difficult situations a teenager has to face. I quote the evergreen lines from the story, “In this world of human affairs there is no worse nuisance than a boy at the age of fourteen. He is neither ornamental nor useful. It is impossible to shower affection on him as on a little boy; and he is always getting in the way. If he talks in a childish lisp he is called a baby, and if he answers in a grown up way he is called impertinent. In fact, any talk at all from him is resented.”

Based on my experience as a mother of two children, a grandmother of four grand children and an educationist dealing with innumerable children, I list below some important points which the parents must keep in mind while dealing with teenagers. (There are no hard and fast rules to succeed in this endeavour. These are only broad outlines.)

  1. Respect the dignity of your child. Never talk about his shortcomings in front of outsiders.
  2. You know your child best. You should be able to grasp the significance of his body language. The child may be shy to express his/her doubts; as a parent you should be able to judge that something is troubling him/her. This is a crucial period in the life of a child. The changes taking place in his/her body baffles the child. It is for the parent to instill confidence in the child.
  3. These days the media  and the Press highlight issues of sex, rape,  child abuse, etc. The parent must not be shy of discussing matters relating to these problems. Talk frankly and judiciously to the child. In case of child abuse the parent must caution the child.
  4. Parents should never quarrel/argue in front of the growing children. This is the stage when such situations leave a permanent imprint on the child’s mind. They start weaving stories and become temperamental. Some times it may result in hatred for the parents. I remember, there was a girl who was very intelligent when she was in her primary classes. As she entered teens, her performance in studies  deteriorated  significantly. The class teacher took her into confidence and  tried to find out the reason for the sudden change. The  girl started weeping and stated that her mother was a widow. The family had no source of income and that she  worked as a maid in a house after school hours. All the staff members felt sorry for her. Her Mother was summoned to the school. We were stunned to see her mother. She came in a  chauffeur  driven car, well dressed  and a mangal sutra in her neck. When she was informed about the ‘facts’ narrated by her daughter she became annoyed and in front of all the staff, started  slapping the child and abusing her in choicest Punjabi terms. It transpired that the parents argued in front of the children. The child started day dreaming and made up several  stories!!
  5. We should never compare children’s school results. Each child has his own personality.
  6. In case of siblings, the elder one is generally blamed, when they fight. Words such as ‘you are the elder one’ or ‘Don’t trouble your younger  brother/sister,’ leaves the elder child broken-hearted.
  7. Some parents brag about their ‘achievements’ in front of the children. “Wah, I fooled the other chap and got good profit”. Such utterances will adversely affect the child in his later life.
  8. Last but not the least gain your child’s confidence and trust. In case of any problem or difficulty the child must have faith that you are there for him/her.

Usha Menon, a 77-years-old retired educationist, who has four sweet, adorable grandchildren. Last year she wrote a book,”Reverse Gear.” This book is a sort of analogy between her professional and personal life, depicting the travails, ups and downs faced by an average working woman. As a retired person, She is leading a contented life with a loving husband, devoted son, daughter-in-law and two grand daughters. Her doting daughter, son-in-law, and two grand sons, who are very affectionate, look after her and her husband. She is grateful to God that He has, in His grace, given her an opportunity to live a life of peaceful contentment.

  • A D Chawla

    Even though i do not have the experience of bringing up grand children like the author of this blog , the comments made are quite thought provoking. I have noticed that at 13-14 children enjoy the company of their friends more than their parents, they are not interested in attending family outings but are most forthcoming and open with their friends and it is at this stage of their life they need the attention of their parents that Mrs Usha Menon refers to in her blog.

    • Thank you Anil for going through my post and for giving valuable comments. You are correct that children of this age like to be in the company of their friends.

  • Welcome to Parentous, Ma’am. You have raised such a relevant topic. The teen years bring plenty of parenting challenges as it is a confusing time for both the parents and the teens.
    I read this somewhere that as a parent of the teen you get fired as the boss. If you’ve done a good enough job you get re-hired as a trusted friend and advisor. If you continue to do a good job, your teen may well even take your advice!! 🙂

    • Thank you Shilpa. Your words are always precious for me.

  • Madhu

    Teens is indeed the most challenging/complicated stage in one’s life. I can quite relate to it. When I was a teen, I remember how I used to react to every situation. The tips given by the author are very useful and I guess every parent should read this blog to understand their kids.

    • Yes Madhu, I agree with you. Times have changed. When we were in our teens we were very innocent.Now a days kids are fully aware due to electric and print media, The resposibility of the parents has increased .

  • Vijay Chawla

    Wonderful and thought provoking tips outlined by the author. A must read.

    • Thanks a lot, Mr. Chawla for your comments.

  • Prashant

    A good read for both parents and kids (espacially teenagers).

    • Thank you Prashant. Your comments are precious for me.

  • Deepak Menon

    A wonderful exposition on the mind of teenagers and their tactful handling by their parents. The author has indeed written from her experience as she used the tips she has provided in bringing up my sister and me through our teenage years! Kudos to my mother!

    • Thank you Deepak for acknowledging your Mother’s role in your upbringing.

  • Wonderful pointers, ma’am. Very true. As it is the teens and tweens are disturbed by hormonal changes and get wired differently. And this is the most awkward stage adolescence, where they are neither treated as adults or as children. We have to handle them with care. Thank you.

    • Thank you Asha. Yes you are correct. The parents have to be very observent and alert during children’s adolecence.

  • Jyotsna

    Very well said! As a mother of two sons – one in his teens and the other who has just crossed the teens, I can very well correlate with all that has been written. Biologically all these changes can be explained by the surge of reproductive hormones which starts as early as 9 to 10 years. In spite of all the medical knowledge, I am totally at sea on some occasions while dealing with the boys. A very simple well meaning remark is at times taken otherwise by them and leads to a battle of sorts, leaving me puzzled. Over the years what I have learnt is that love and patience are the two most vital qualities required to deal with teenagers. I salute the author, who happens to be my mother for sharing her thoughts with us and also thank her for seeing me through that difficult phase of my life and also for bearing with all my moods and tantrums with such patience. Love you ma.

    • Thank you Jyotsna for such fine comments. I did not face any difficult or tricky situations with my children in their teens .

  • Great insights! I would say parents have to actually anticipate problems and be on the look out for any subtle changes in behaviour. If they are not picked up before they are obvious, damage may have occurred. The biggest dilemma for the child is “should i ask mom or ??!!” because he/ she is also trying to break away from parental control.
    My experience and how I worked around it – from 8-9 yr of age, start converting your relationship from parent child to friend-friend. It worked for me. 🙂

  • Thank you Dr. Asrani. for your very practical and informative comments. I liked your suggestion that the parent children relation should be more like friends .


    Educative article for all of us. Some keypoints are really good like being transparent with children, not abusing the children &wishing a child during the day. We will apply all this in our day to day life. keep sending such good writeups. ThankYou


    Educative article for all of us. Some keypoints are really good like being transparent with children, not abusing the children & wishing a child during the day. We will apply all this in our day to day life. keep sending such good writeups. ThankYou


    very well narrated & thought provoking article. Having the experience of upbringing of my three children, I agree with the author that teens is the most trying time for child as well as the parents. The child at his/her teens expects to be treated with respect and dignity. He/she becomes very possessive of his belongings at his/her teens. A child in his/her teens needs to be heard patiently.

  • Thank you Madan for your encouraging comments.

  • Tarun Nagpal

    Thanks massi for this knowledgeable article…

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Overwhelmed to have you in this Parenting adda. Always, loved your poems on Kavi’s post. Keep sharing, we all are eagerly waiting 🙂

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Oops. Ignore the last line, I think I confused you with someone else. Glad to have you. Welcome.

    • Welcome to my space Amrita. Even though you wrote because of mistaken identity I am happy to have you her as a friend. I shall visit your site. Thanks for the comments Stay connected.

  • What a timely post and inputs as we see our pre teen changing slowly but steadily. On one side we feel so proud of her and on the other side we get worried when her mood suddenly changes. Will keep in mind some of the points like not arguing in front of kids in mind.


    • Thanks Prasad . I am happy that you liked my post. If ny obserations help even 10& of the people who read it, I will call myself lucky.

  • Joshua

    Hello Aunt Usha,
    My names Joshua, and yes i’m a troubled teenager, I’ve been through a lot, and practically every point that you’ve mentioned above my parents seem to be doing the dont’s. i do not know how to approach them and request your help, on how to let them know that i’m disturbed. It’s all happening cause i’m not that great in academics, i’m aware of that, and i’m very tired out on trying to proove my self.