Dealing with adolescent changes
If you are a parent of teen, it’s time for you to awaken and furnish yourself with as much information about the teen’s brain and its unique ways of working, the challenges you will be facing and the strategies to come through this period.
Though a child brain is about 90-95 per cent of adult size at the age of six, it needs a lot of transformation before it can work as an adult brain. The brain doesn’t finish developing and maturing till mid-to-late-20s.While frontal cortex is the area responsible for decision making, unfortunately, the last part to mature in the brain is also the same frontal cortex. Limbic system which is the seat of risk, reward, impulse and emotion dominate the frontal cortex when it is still under construction.
The limbic system develops earlier and faster than the cortex, meaning that until the cortex can catch up with the limbic system, the desire for rewards and social pressures overrides rational thinking (Steinberg, 2007; Galvan, 2007; Casey, 2007).
However, this doesn’t mean that the teenagers can never make good decisions; also, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions. Awareness about the teen’s brain and the reasons for their sudden impulsive, irrational and dangerous behaviours would help the parents manage the behaviour in a healthy manner.
Here are few things that parents of teens to look into:
- Check your leadership style:
Some parents are permissive and give unrestricted freedom to the teenagers that make them face the consequences. Children of permissive parents always have a feeling of insecurity and guilt because of their inconsiderate behaviours. This may lead to more risky behaviours in teens. While some are authoritative and they have unrealistic expectations that create unnecessary pressure in teenagers. Children of authoritative parents may develop fear, anxiety, rebellious behaviour and lack self-confidence. Thus, practicing a healthy balance between the two would help you raise self-disciplined children.
- Develop clear expectations for behaviours:
Be specific about the things that you expect from your children and communicate them openly. Letting them know your expectations on good grades, acting respectfully would inculcate responsibility in teens and would also prepare them to say no while tempted for risky behaviours such as substance abuse. Reviewing the expectations often would help them go in the right direction.
- Acknowledge their emotions:
Acknowledging what you see in them, their feelings, needs, wants will give a space to discover them better. Be it anger, sadness, jealousy, anxiety, whatever the emotion is, acknowledge the feelings which will open a safe way to explore their experience.
- Support healthy brain development:
Promote good thinking skills by defining problems, finding options, considering consequences. Encourage positive behaviour by emphasizing empathy, talking about other people’s perspectives. Ensure that you child has comfortable and quiet sleep environment. Support healthy brain development by making sure the teens get enough sleep, physical activity and healthy nutrition. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water. Following a healthy diet that benefits the brain is an amazing way to support your child. Ensure your child does physical exercise (when at home) which doesn’t only keep the body fit but also keeps the brain sharp.
Author: NANCY G