Parents 'risk alienating teenagers by asking them to tidy their rooms'

Parents risk alienating teenagers by asking them to tidy their rooms and questioning why they treat home like a hotel, expert warns

  • Neuroscientist Dr Dean Burnett said that such questions alienate teenagers
  • He urged parents to try to see things from their youngsters’ point of view
  • Also said teens’ brains develop rapidly so they do need more sleep than others

Time and time again, exasperated mums and dads ask their teenagers to tidy their rooms and question why they treat the home like a hotel.

But an expert has warned that these phrases – and others such as asking their children how their day at school was and why they sleep until midday on the weekend – are parenting traps.

Neuroscientist Dr Dean Burnett said such questions alienate teenagers and he has urged parents to try to see things from their youngsters’ point of view.

He said they treat their home like a hotel because they have had everything done for them as a child and are struggling to adapt to a new state of independence.

Neuroscientist Dr Dean Burnett said such questions alienate teenagers and he has urged parents to try to see things from their youngsters’ point of view (file photo)

In a lecture at the Royal Institution in London, Dr Burnett added: ‘Instead of asking why they treat the house like a hotel, parents might want to bargain and offer them something in return if they tidy their room.’

He has drawn up a list of typical questions parents should avoid asking, including ‘How was school today?’ 

School can be intensely stressful, so being asked about it as soon as teens get through the door can force them to relive their worries, he said. 

Parents should instead ask: ‘How are you?’

The neuroscientist, author of Why Your Parents Are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It, also said teenagers’ brains are developing rapidly so they do need more sleep than others.

Dr Burnett said: ‘Harry Enfield’s teenage sketch character Kevin is the stereotype of a grumpy adolescent for many parents. But look at him more closely and you can see all the hallmarks of serious sleep deprivation, from grumpiness and a short temper to lack of focus.’

He also claimed that when parents nag their children about phone use, they need to recognise that they often use their devices as much as their offspring.

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