Kwambie:Great to catch up with you in Embu County Dr. Toto and looking forward to your shared insights as a renown paediatrician and parenting expert in our great Republic; Kenya.
Dr. Toto: (chuckles) I don’t know about being renown, but I am trying to do the best in my space. Kudos to ‘Wacha niKwambie Uzima’ on tackling Parenting this month of February. Children are a gift from God and we have to nurture them to fulfill their greatest potential in life.
Kwambie: I could not agree more. I am grateful that you made time out of your busy schedule to tackle this topic that is not for the faint hearted parent, that is ‘Parenting Teenagers’. You know teenagers more often than not are just bad news, if is not a crazy hairstyle then it is weird dressing styles.
Dr. Toto: And that is where we as parents go wrong, expecting the worst from our teenagers. Go into parenting a teenager with a positive mindset. Out to bring out your teenager’s immense potential. Instead of sweating the small stuff like the type of haircuts and choice of dress look out for the bigger picture and instead look out for the bigger picture like signs of alcohol and drug abuse, underage sex and decline in school performance.
Kwambie:In the past few weeks we have learned of the signs of growth and development in babies, preschoolers and middle childhood children, are there unique signs for the teenager?
Dr. Toto: Yes, consider physical, mental, intellectual, social and emotional development.
Dr. Toto: The girl begins puberty that is sexual development typically before the boy with development of breasts from breast buds, enlargement of hips, appearance of pubic and underarm hair and beginning of the mentstrual period. The boys experience enlargening of their testicles and penis, appearance of under arm hair, beards and pubic hair, their voices deepen and they experience ‘wet dreams’ or nocturnal emissions are they are known as scientifically. Remember thisgo hand in hand with a lot of hormonal activity in their bodies and is the offsetof sexual urge and attraction.
Kwambie:Which leads me to my next question. What about social development in this period of childhood?
Dr. Toto: By and by the children form friendships from within their gender in earlier periods of childhood but it is at this age group that solid friendships with the opposite sex begin. The teenager feels an intense to belong and this will affect their dressing style, appearance, lifestyle and habits in order to gain acceptance from their social group.
Kwambie:Amazing. I recently participated in a career day in my high school. Is this the age group that awareness into career options begin to take place?
Dr. Toto: Yes, within this age group intellectual and mental development is fast tracked. Children begin to think in abstract and logic and think long term. They do not take everything as a fact but weigh what has been said to them. It is as this point that parents should look at the strengths and weaknesses of their children and seek suitable career options. It is also during this time that teenagers grow emotionally. They may experience emotional outbursts and may act in impulse like driving off very fast with your treasured car. This is because teenage brains are not as well developed as those of adults yet they are a notch higher than the younger childhood years. They yearn for freedom.
Kwambie: Those are so many changes to deal with as a parent. What is a parent to do with a teenager?
Dr. Toto: Build up on the open communication that you had hopefully fostered with your child in earlier years. Be very open on the changes that they are experiencing in their lives and give them solid facts on how certain choices may impact their future. Sometimes teenagers may not feel free enough to open up to their parents let them vent to other trusted adults you may know for example an auntie or uncle.
Kwambie:What about boundaries and discipline are they still important for this age group?
Dr. Toto: Absolutely. Praise and reward them for their successes, help them navigate their weaknesses and at the same time punish them by denying them rights when they go wrong. Teenagehood can be a very stressful period for a teenager; what with the pressure to perform at school, expectations from the community and raging hormones to deal with so also counsel them on how to handle stress which ‘Wacha nikwambie Uzima ‘ focused on last year http://wachanikwambieuzima.blogspot.co.ke/2015/05/akili-ni-nywele-kila-mtu-ana-zake.html?q=stress.
Dr. Toto: Please be wary of group influence to your teenager this can be positive or negative as the case may be. Monitor your teen’s friends. Watch out for changes in their personality, grades and appearance as those could be symptoms of underlying problems.
Kwambie:What about media influence. You know teenagers really look up to celebrities. I thought during my teenage years that Toni Braxton was the greatest woman in the planet.
Dr. Toto: Teach them to weigh everything that they watch on TV and weigh advertisements or what celebrities say, act or do.
Kwambie:Wow, wow, I feel empowered already on handling theteenagers in my life.
Dr. Toto: I end with the most importantpiece of advice on guiding and parenting teens. Be a role model. Teenagers pick from the adults in their lives. Do not say one thing and act in another way. That is all from me.
Kwambie: Thank you so much Dr. Toto. Let us anticipate the best from the teens in our lives and strive to bring out the best in them. To all, a fantastic weekend ahead. A fantastic weekend to all.