Erich Your Life Skills & Career
Dr. Jitendra Nagpal
Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable our youngsters to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. These are a set of human skills acquired via teaching or direct experience that are used to handle problems and questions commonly encountered in daily human life. Dr. Jitendra Nagpal is a Life Skills Coach. He is a developmental trainer in youth wellbeing and soft skills for the schools, colleges and corporate sector. In this regular column, he will answer the questions of our readers
Question : My son is 20 years old and recently I saw a lighter in his study table drawer. I have also sometimes noticed the smell of smoke when he enters the house. I think that he has developed the habit of smoking. How can I help him to stop this dangerous habit? Could it be cured at this stage?
Answer : It is not unusual that youth may experiment with some of the common substances such as alcohol, chewing tobacco and cigarettes during the process of growing up. This initiation and early stages of use of addictive substances is mainly due to the result of social influences. One of the most powerful social influences is the peer group. Other sources of influence are parents, other role models, advertisement and social traditions. In addition to these factors, a number of personal characteristics are also related with the use of substances. It is important to remember that experimentation does not equal to addiction.
One of the first things that you need to do is to communicate with him without getting very emotional or agitated. Without accusing him, tell him that you are concerned about his behavior. Try and find out how much, how often and with whom he is engaging in this behavior. If it is only the initial stages, then discuss the harmful consequences of tobacco use and gently nudge him away from his peer group. If he is into more regular smoking habits then you may consider discussing the matter with your general practitioner. Encourage positive recreational activities to enhance family bonding and further self-esteem. A life skills education through the school or community based learning can be of great help. Try to build a positive peer group who can nurture positive social competence and a healthy environment for your son. Best wishes.
Q. I am 19 years old but my family and friends treat me as a small child. My family does not include me in the discussions regarding important family matters. My friends also often keep me out of their ‘mature’ interactions. They frequently boss me aroun. I feel left out Please suggest how can I overcome this problem?
Ans. First of all, you need to try and understand why people around you consider you immature. Some young people are late developers while some develop early. If you feel less knowledgeable about growth and sexual matters and that’s why your friends keep you away, enriching your knowledge by reading up, discussing with a counselor or an adult whom you can trust will be of great help. Other reasons why people might be reluctant to share things with you could be doubts about confidentially where you are concerned. Parents can make adult children feel like they are not capable or not wise enough to make their own decisions, or still having the mind of a child. In this case, it is wise to be assertive by being firm in your opinions and actions without being rigid or hostile. Speaking in a tone that's friendly and respectful makes it more likely that parents will listen and take what you say seriously.
Analyze your actions. Perhaps it is not really the other person who is wrong. Examine how you interact with others to see if you are acting childish or immature. Initiate dialogue with them. Since communication is a two-way street, the way you talk can influence how well your parents and friends listens and understands you. Be clear and direct about what you think, feel, and want. Telling parents you understand their views and feelings helps them to see yours, too.