Silvia Álava

Educational and health psychologist

"Homework is always the responsibility of the children, and never of the parents"

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Psychology can be useful in many areas for parents of adolescents. Firstly, it is important to have a clear understanding of what actually happens during adolescence because, while the hormonal and physiological changes have been well-documented, the psychological changes have been studied to a lesser degree. During adolescence, the body starts to release the kisspeptin hormone. This hormone triggers a wide range of secondary sexual characteristics, as well as a series of mental and psychological changes. It is during this stage that a child's critical sense undergoes significant development. Previously, your child may have accepted everything you said without question. However, now they start to question you.

We always say that children learn by modeling and that their parents are their main source of learning. However, when adolescence arrives, their friends become their models. They are peers, sometimes singers, YouTubers, and other things that they discover along the way. However, they still rely on their parents and need their parents to be there for them.

Very young children will play next to other children without interacting with them. Later, friends are circumstantial. In other words, children will make friends with those sitting next to them or other classmates. Around the age of eight years old, children start to select their friends based on specific characteristics. Finally, it is not until the age of twelve years old that children really start to consolidate their group of friends.

"It is important to give children the tools to resolve conflicts with their peers"

It is not realistic to try to start to have a good level of communication and foster a climate of trust when your child hits adolescence. If you have not made an effort to do so when your child was young, it is going to be a much harder task. The first step is to establish a climate of trust in which your children sees that they can talk about anything. What's more, it is essential to set aside time and a space to do so. And there is another key aspect: listening. Listening is more difficult than it may seem because when we talk about active listening, this means that I forget about myself and only focus on you.

The concept of punishing is based on the following idea: You have something. Then, you do something wrong. As a result, I take that thing away from you. Based on this formula, you may learn and modify your behavior. However, it is a better idea to make an effort to reinforce positive behavior; in other words, what the children should do. If you have finished your homework, you can leave and take the table and play for a while. Likewise, if you have tidied your room and have also helped around the house, perhaps you can do something else that you like.

It is true that it is important to give children a degree of autonomy, and to let them become increasingly independent, so that they are able to resolve everyday conflicts by themselves and manage other aspects of life. However, the key idea is to accompany your child. During the initial stages, rather than giving them the sense that we are controlling them (as we all know that being overprotective is one of the biggest errors in education today), it is more about being by their side and checking that everything is alright.

Educational, Clinical and Health Psychologist. Author of books such as "We want them to grow up happy", "Stories for eating without a fuss" and "The psychology that helps us to live”. Among her basic educational principles, she highlights the importance of children's autonomy and a firm belief in letting children learn by making mistakes.