Tweens and Teens – The Frustration Is Real!

Tweens and teens are at the stage where they are overly consumed by the changes in their bodies and the social world.

teenThe eye-rolling, back-talking, and snarky attitude are some behaviours that parents of tweens and teens are familiar with and having a hard time to deal with them. Unbelievably, these behaviours would come and go. Your tweens and teens can be at their sweetest one minute and challenging your beliefs the next. Tweens and teens with dyslexia and other specific learning differences are not getting it easier. With puberty looming at this age and the struggles they go through in school will cause some frictions at home, with their parents. Most often, parents are disheartened, flabbergasted, and clueless on how to manage this parent-child relationship.

Imagine this scenario, your child comes home one day, feeling disappointed and tells you he hates school so much. He doesn’t want to go to school anymore because he has been doing poorly in class. Your immediate response would be to scold him and repeat like a broken record on how lazy he is, how he will suffer as an adult without proper education, and so on. Frustrated, he slams his door and ignores you the whole day. Both parties end up angry and hurt.

What can parents do to help their tweens and teens?

1) Do not react immediately to the behaviour.

Remind yourself that this is a phase for both you and your child to go through together. If you got through the ‘Terrible Twos’ many years ago, you would get through this phase too. Keep calm.

2) Listen more and validate your child’s emotions.

For example, when your child is showing signs of frustration as he is trying to complete his schoolwork, let him know that you and he will find a way to make learning better. This shows that you care and your child will not feel hopeless or alone in his learning journey.

3) ‘HTHT’ (Heart-to-Heart Talk)

Keep in mind that parents are role models. Tweens and teens are often unaware of their tone of voice. Look for opportunities to have an ‘HTHT’ (heart-to-heart talk) with them. This is to help them hear themselves and making them know how their attitudes are impacting others. Parents to continue to speak respectfully to their tween or teen so as not to escalate the conflict.

4) Consider enrolling your child into enrichment classes like Speech and Drama.

Apart from learning to express himself better, these classes will enhance your child’s social-emotional development. Briefly, social-emotional development is the ability to understand and manage own emotions, be able to respond appropriately to other people’s emotions, the ability to handle conflicts, and foster good relationships. Some researchers have indicated that a child’s social-emotional development is the predictor of academic success. In addition to social-emotional development, your child will build his self-esteem through drama performances and discovering his strengths and talents in a safe environment. Knowing his strengths and the areas that he is good at will definitely boost his self-esteem, giving him the motivation to learn.

Speech & Drama Arts (SDA) Classes

In SDA classes, students explore their emotions, thoughts, and ideas through drama activities such as ‘conscious alley’ or ‘thought tunnel’. It is a good exercise for students to be reflective of a character’s dilemma. Students are encouraged to look at situations and respond with alternate viewpoints. This activity will benefit tweens and teens as most often, either they are not hearing themselves or are too self-absorbed to care about others. By making them ‘step outside’ of their own feelings and emotions, and put themselves in other people’s shoes, allows them to be aware of their emotions, as well as others. In addition to developing empathy and critical thinking skills, students in SDA classes also acquire these essential skills – communication, collaboration, and creativity through other drama games and activities. As you can see, drama classes not only benefit the young children but also older ones. The Speech & Drama Arts programme is available for students from K2 – Secondary

By Muzdalifah Hamzah
Programme Manager Speech and Drama Arts and Lead Educational Therapist

To find out more about SDA classes, click here.