Friday, 18 February 2011

Teenage Parenting - Heard of Imaginary Audience & Personal Fable?

Your child is now a teenager and you wonder why the child you have is so different from what he or she used to be. Teenager is in a transition stage and may display cognitive, emotional and attitudinal changes. These changes sometimes become the source of conflicts for parent and teenagers. So, it is important for parents to understand these developmental changes in teenager and how it affects them.

Here, I would like to discuss two factors that may influence teenager's development, i.e. Imaginary Audience and Personal Fable.

Teenagers' greater self-reflective capacity causes them to become overly conscious. They imagine themselves as always on stage, as the center of everyone else's attention and concern. This is known as imaginary audience. This concept has helped me to understand why my teenager had, at times, alienated herself from her siblings in the train as she felt that her brothers and sisters were too noisy and may attract unwanted stares. She felt embarrassed by their behavior and so preferred to stand far away from them. To help her to deal with the situation, I suggested that she observed the situation and in the train and asked her to take note of how many people were staring at her siblings when they were in the train. She soon realized that it was her being sensitive as her siblings were neither too noisy nor were they attracting unnecessary attention. Over time, she has managed to get over this and has become less sensitive. With the understanding of this concept, it is important to realize that parents should never say negative things or criticize the teenager in public; it must be done in private and definitely not in the ear shot of their younger siblings.

The other factor is Personal Fable. This means that the teenagers' self-focusing leads them to develop an exaggerated view of their own importance. They regard their own thoughts and feelings as special and unique. They also believe that they are invulnerable to dangers all others faces. This could explain why teenagers engage in casual sex, dangerous driving or other risk taking behavior as they would think that the bad consequences may happen to others but would not happen to them. As parents, we would need to help them to deal with this false sense of security by showing them examples or evidence of teenagers getting into trouble, perhaps using newspaper articles or incidents that happened to people that the teenagers know.

These two factors could at times be the source of conflict between parents and teens. With this understanding in mind, parents would be able to help their teen copes with these developmental changes better and in the process, develop a better relationship with their teens.

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Sandra Chong is a Career & Life Coach. Her passion lies in empowering individuals to ENJOY WORK & LIFE NOW! As a full time working mother with four children, she believes in creating opportunities for her children to learn to take responsibility for their lives and at the same time helping them to identify their unique talents so that they can live life to the fullest!