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What a Parent Needs to Understand about the Teenage Brain

Priya Johnson
All of a sudden our sweet little kid is now moody, rebellious and rude. What happened to that innocent child of ours! Understanding the teenage brain is vital for a healthy parent-child relationship
A Teenager's Brain is Still Developing
We can't seem to understand why our teenager is suddenly a stranger. Well, a teenager's brain is growing and changing rapidly. This growth brings about changes in their thinking and behavior.
New Neural Connections Being Formed
The teenage brain is rapidly forming new pathways and neural connections. This is why teenagers can form new bonds faster. Addictions are highest during this stage because of their ability to rapidly bond to a new habit, even if it's bad.
A teenager's brain works differently
Don't expect your teenage son or daughter to think like you. Biologically a teenager's brain is not like that of an adult. So as parents we need to understand they're not capable of making rational decisions like adults.
Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
Teenagers aren't Irrational on Purpose
A teenager's brain hasn't developed completely and it's only after 25 that's the development stage is complete.
Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
Every Teenager is Unique
As parents we can't help comparing. However, it's important to remember every teenager is unique and their development and transition phases are going to be unique.
Teenagers can't help making emotional decisions
The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making. Since this part of the brain is yet to develop completely, teenagers depend on the amygdala to make decisions and process situations. The amygdala is linked to impulsive behavior and other emotions.
Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
Stress Hormone is Released in Higher Amounts
Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
During these rapid changes in the brain's structure, a great amount of cortisol is released. Cortisol is the stress hormone which increases levels of anxiety in teenagers.
What Can You Do As a Parent?
Not speaking to your rebellious teenager won't help. It will further push them into their shell. Make sure you make every effort to communicate even when they fail to respond. Eventually one day they will open up.
Be a Good Listener
Be careful not to use the time to give long speeches or bombard advice. Listen to what they have to say and encourage them to take the floor. Venting out and talking is good to destress.
Genuinely Empathize
Teenagers can sense disinterest. Make sure you take genuine interest in their lives and emphasize with them. Even if you feel they're fretting over something ridiculous, understand that it's important to them.
Avoid Being Judgmental
Listen and empathize, but make sure you're not quick to judge or condemn. A condescending tone will prevent your child from opening up in the future. So choose your words and tone carefully.
Get Involved
Don't just appear like the maintenance guy. Get involved in the life of your child and take interest in their day-to-day life. Set aside time to bond on a daily and weekly basis. Do something fun together just to relax and bond.
It's important to keep communication lines open, but it's also important to discuss the consequences of decisions made. Every action has a consequence, good or bad. Explain the impact negative consequences will have on their lives.
Discuss Consequences
Bigger Picture
Teenagers stress about many little things. As a parent you need to assure them that things work out for good in the long run. Every disappointing experience teaches us something. Encourage them to see the bigger picture so that present troubles don't choke them.
Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
Words of Affirmation
Keep reminding your child how precious they are. They have enough from the world about how they're not intelligent enough, not pretty or handsome enough, etc. As a parent keep reaffirming their positive attributes. This will build them up.
Leash Should Not be too Short
It's not wrong to set boundaries. Healthy boundaries are required. Set reasonable boundaries and involve your child in the boundary-setting process. Harsh rules will only embitter them, so make sure you're a reasonable parent.
Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child as a parent. - Ben Keeshan