A child’s life revolves around family, school and the neighborhood. While family members and authorities at school take several measures to ensure that the child is surrounded by a healthy environment, there are still some concerns that disturb the adolescents of today. The same was highlighted in the ‘Voice of the Adolescent’ survey recently conducted by Happiest Health in which 564 adolescents (from class 8-12) responded and expressed their thoughts regarding their relationship with their parents and school.
The survey findings were discussed during the Children’s summit ‘Get Set, Grow’ in Bangalore and it highlighted that 70% share a good relationship with their parents, who trust and confide in them, do not force their dreams on them and even help them resolve their issues whenever required. However, 9% of adolescents feel their go-to person when stressed is self, while 14 % of them have nobody to go to.
It all begins at home
Home being the place where children get to spend the majority of their time, it is important to ensure that the environment at home is conducive and family members are open to discussions on areas that children would like to talk about.
“It is important for parents to create a safe and comfortable space where their children can be themselves without having to worry about being judged,” said Maryanne Pais, HOD psychology, St Joseph’s College of Commerce while speaking at the panel discussion ‘Voice of the Adolescent’. “Parents need to be mindful about their actions and behaviour in the way they speak and respond to certain topics as this helps to build trust between their children and them,” she said.
Throwing light on the new age concerns of screen time among children, Akash Ryall, CEO, Bethany Education Institutions, Bangalore said that today’s children are so much lost in social media that they have forgotten that there are people around them who might need help, “Practicing empathy, gratitude, forgiveness, and humility at home in our daily lives, helps children to pick it up and do it themselves,” he said.
The majority of adolescents spend more than 2 hours a day browsing through social media, listening to music, and watching movies. The survey indicated that about 68% of higher secondary students and about 25% of high school students spend more than two hours on screens.
Parents must regulate a child’s activities including the screen time, said Ryall. “Parents should be able to agree or disagree with children when need be. Otherwise, how will we be able to show them the right path to follow?” he added.
One of the startling findings of the ‘Voice of the Adolescent’ survey is that (when asked about issues that cause discomfort while talking with parents) 73% of teenagers couldn’t discuss anything with their parents while 27% of them had no trouble discussing their concerns.
“Parents, hear us. Do not judge.”
Presenting the ‘Voice of the adolescent’ survey results at the summit, Mookundaa Sandeep Oza, a class 10 student from ACTS Secondary School, Bangalore, said, “More than half of us, adolescents feel that parents should spend time with us, trust us, do not judge or pressurize us, should support us and be more friendly.”
The survey indicated that 76% of students were not happy that their parents listen with judgment and the same number of respondents also feel that they cannot speak to their parents about romantic relationships. Total 66% of them felt that they could not speak to their parents about issues on sex and sexuality while 46% of them felt they couldn’t discuss all issues with their parents. 41% of adolescents were unhappy that they were not included in family decisions.
The amount of time that parents give children is very important and they must ensure that they involve them in family decisions as it helps give them a sense of responsibility and boosts their confidence, said Sulata Mitra, social media influencer & digital content creator.
“There’s no point in pretending that conversations around intimacy don’t exist, or they exist only after marriage. We need to be aware that our children are curious, and we need to give them that space to talk about it to be able to set boundaries with them,” said Pais.
“If parents are being judgmental, comparing a child to another child or giving a harsh and hostile lecture, this may result in children not taking their queries to them,” Ryall said, adding that parents must listen to their children and not respond reactively. “Give them a chance to figure it out themselves, instead of trying to impose your decision on them,” he added.
Ways to make schooling more friendly
While 84% of students feel safe, comfortable and happy at school, 49% of the students are still uncomfortable talking to teachers and around 58 % of the students are stressed by schoolwork.
The survey suggests, 65% of teenagers couldn’t discuss anything with their teachers while 35% had no trouble. According to Pais, instead of imposing a schedule on the students, teachers can sit with the students, discuss and create a slightly flexible schedule along with them and help them to prioritize what they would like to work on.
Pais firmly believes that encouraging children to participate in extracurricular activities and pursue their hobbies, is a great way to alleviate stress. “Appreciating those students who may not be academically inclined and giving them an opportunity to explore other talents and skills that they have can be helpful,” Pais said.
- Voice of Adolescent survey by Happiest Health captured the views of teenagers who expressed their concerns.
- 14% adolescents do not have a go to person when they are stressed
- Increase in screen time is another factor affecting the social life of children