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Thirteen, going on fourteen

Adolescence is a difficult phase. It is crucial for grown-ups to learn how to handle children with sensitivity during this stage

photo: Mohammed Yousuf



ON THE THRESHOLD This in the time when young people define their place in the family and community

They are boisterous, ostentatious, and believe in an `I-live-for-myself-only' attitude. P. Jayachandran Naidu, editor, School Social Work Journal, describes quintessential adolescents thus.

Handling adolescents is a challenging task. These young people, if not guided properly, are likely to fall prey to behaviours that place them at risk such as joining gangs, dropping out of school and running away from home.

Transition period

"Adolescence is a time for young people to define their place in the family, peer groups and the larger community. During this transition period (from childhood to adulthood) they grope in the dark to identify their moorings, their role, responsibility and identity," he says.

Not just identity crisis, they also feel the need to belong. How does one deal with them? "Primarily, with patience." He explains how young people begin to take risks and experiment at this age: "They may choose friends their parents do not approve of and try alcohol or other drugs. They may wear clothes that are trendy; begin comparing their families' lifestyle to that of others."

Requisite tools

The requisite tools in raising young people are love, compassion, sensitivity, praise, understanding and communication. It is never too late to reach out to help. Early intervention with troubled young ones is crucial to reduce the repercussions of such problems.

Jayachandran says healthcare professionals, guidance counsellors, the social work department of local hospitals and psychologists can help troubled youth.

"A good way to help your adolescent through troubled times is to recollect how you waded through it yourself and guide them accordingly," he adds.

K. JESHI

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