A lot of parents feel that the most difficult years are the teen years. It may seem that your once sweet child is suddenly possessed. You may be on the receiving end of mood swings, unpredictability, defiance, belligerence and various other types of emotional outbursts.
During this time of turbulence, you may start to wonder if your teen will ever grow up and you find yourself wishing for the years to pass quickly. Occasionally you catch glimpses of the little child they used to be; even less frequently you can catch glimpses of the adult they are becoming. In the mean time, you are faced with this stranger that seems uncomfortable in his or her own skin and thinks the enemy is you.
So what is wrong with your teen? He or she may suddenly seem to not be living in the same reality as you are, like a visitor from another planet. You may find yourself dreading any kind of interaction with your teen.
Typically, parents blame hormones for unpredictable outbursts and unreasonable behavior. The problem with teens is partly, but not totally, caused by hormones.
The other problem is the development of the brain. The development of your teenager’s brain is probably slower than you think.
The largest part of the brain is called the frontal lobe. A small part of the frontal lobe located behind the forehead control’s the brain’s most advanced functions. This is the area that allows us to think in the abstract, imagine consequences, plan and control impulses. The frontal lobe undergoes far more change during the teen years than at any other stage of a person’s life. . It is the last part of the brain to develop. This means your teenager literally
While your teen is appearing unreasonable during the adolescent years, below the surface the brain is in the process of changing significantly. There is an intensive overproduction of gray matter, the brain tissue that does the thinking. Then, for a period of time, gray matter is discarded at a rapid rate, while white matter develops. White matter is fatty tissue that serves as insulation. These changes continue into a person’s early twenties. In other words, during the teen years, the brain is not done being built yet. Because of the lack of maturity of the frontal lobe, teenagers rely on emotional parts of the brain instead. They rely on gut feelings, not on intellectually evaluating the consequences of their actions.
Your teenager is in this respect, still a child. The brain does not become mature in the areas that govern judgment and foresight until around age 21 or 22.
So the next time you can’t reason with your teenager, keep in mind their brain isn’t done growing yet. They may not be choosing to be unreasonable – they may simply not be capable of reasoning like an adult.