Neurons in the brains of teens go through a process of major pruning during adolescence. They lose millions of neurons and new ones are formed.
Similar to the toddler phase their brain goes through very rapid growth.
5 Major areas of their lives become noticeably different and some challenging.
1. On the positive side they develop new thinking skills as they have greater processing power. They develop adult computational and decision making skills.
2. Unfortunately their good adult rational thinking can be instantly overridden by emotional impulses driven from the maturing limbic part of the brain, the seat of emotion. Thus their impulsive and at times irrational tendencies.
Some more than others experience emotions very intensely and this mixed with increased hormones result in typical dramatic over reactive behavior: intense excitement, rages, fears, aggression, anxiety and sexual attraction.
It is very important to have many loving conversations with our teens so as to strengthen their rational thinking as rational thought is crucial at this time to overrule their impulsive over reactive tendencies.
3. At this time, as they attempt to process emotions they typically misread people, especially parents and teachers. Again calm communication especially on the part of the adult is essential for co operation. Shouting, nagging, demanding, commanding, criticising, threatening and lecturing simply adds fuel to a fire and results in a division in the relationship where they see that it is not safe to confide or consult the parent and thus become alienated from us, turning to peers for the much needed feeling of acceptance and importance.
4. Peer pleasure is of utmost importance. They tend to be very concerned about what others think of them. They will engage in risky behavior just to gain approval. For most this ranks as top priority.
5. Due to an abundance of Oxytocin hormone they also become very self conscious at this time.
In addition their higher thinking abilities start to question philosophical matters and they start to ask themselves for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?
With all this and much more going on in their rapidly changing physical bodies, is it any wonder they get distracted, forgetful, rebellious and make mistakes?
We were not handed a parenting manual when they were born.
The modern teen has a lot more to contend with than in the past. Social media has added an entire new dimension to their mental/emotional health and so too to ours.
Let’s not hesitate to seek guidance and support on how to navigate the teen years with harmony and balance which will raise the odds for raising well adjusted, stable, resilient adults.