Parents Guide to Decoding Adolescence

Meritnation|Jul 19th, 2016 08:31pm

teenage-brain-averageThey are irrational, dramatic and scream for seemingly no rhyme or reason. The whole idea of raising teens is the most difficult part of parenting has become a cultural cliché. Many parents even believe it too. It is easy to joke that when kids are in their teens they are sullen and more interested in their phones than in their parents and generally hard to take. This negative trope about the adolescent period misses the opportunity to positively shape a child’s brain and future.

Teenage is that stage of life where the child’s body goes through physical changes. With that fact in mind, one must not forget that there are vital changes taking place their brains, particularly when they hit the teens. Adolescents confront pressures, stresses, challenges and temptations in brains that are not yet fully developed to understand all this. It’s not that teens haven’t had the same experience and time to acquire a better understanding and sense of the world, but their brains just haven’t physically matured yet.

An adolescent’s brain is ‘work in progress’, not only behaviourally but also physically. Research shows that some parts of the brain, such as the Prefrontal Cortex does not even appear fully mature until 24 years old! Other parts of the brain like the walnut-shaped Amygdala, that sits deep in the brain, appear to be fully mature much earlier.  Many neuroscientists think that this mismatch in brain maturity may explain a lot of adolescent behavior.

The adolescent’s experience – from reading vampire love novels to online friendship, increases the grey matter, where the teen brain becomes more interconnected and gains processing power. Decision-making skills starts weighing in, where most decisions can be overly influenced by emotions. These kind of changes generally confuses parents and bearing a teen’s tantrums difficult to cope. To deal with stress and pressure for a fully mature brain is no small challenge, much less one that is in transition from childhood to adulthood. It becomes so important for parents to understand what is going on their child’s brain while they monitor their child’s social, academic and emotional challenges.

Puberty is the beginning of major changes in the limbic system,the part of the brain that not only helps regulate heart rate and blood sugar levels, but also is critical to the formation of memories and emotions. The development of additional areas of the brain start to help process emotion, older teens gain some equilibrium and have an easier time interpreting others. But until then, they often misread teachers and parents.

As teens become better at thinking abstractly, their social anxiety also increases. It is this abstract reasoning that makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens use this new skill to ruminate what other think about them. Though research shows that peer approval can be rewarding for a teen’s brain, it is also the reason why they are most likely to take certain risks when other teens are around. Looking “cool” is important for them. Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning.

Parents, don’t mistake your teen of thinking that you are unimportant to them. It’s actually quite opposite. Research shows that teenagers actually think highly of their parents and enjoy spending time with them. But then what goes wrong? One of the most influential ways to shape your teen, in addition to being a good listener, is to be a good role model. They might be actively trying to figure out how to cope their challenges but they definitely need you.


Tags In this Post :

Add Comment Total Comments (6)

  • 1. Meritnation  |  October 13th, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Hi Yashika,

    Thank you for your feedback. Stay glued for more awesome articles. 🙂

    Team Meritnation

  • 2. Yashika Mehta  |  October 11th, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    A commendable post written by you. Hats off!

  • 3. Divyansh  |  August 2nd, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    really i just started reading it

  • 4. faheem rizvi  |  July 31st, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    good article but it does not mean that all teens think they should be cool

  • 5. Mukesh Negi  |  July 25th, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Amazing article, all the parents never thought about adolescence, especially Indian parents. All the tips you mention should follow every parents, but sill i think only 5% of parents do.

  • 6. shashwat  |  July 21st, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    being a teenager i can confirm that NO ONE READS TWILIGHT(he vampire love novel thing)
    overall, great article!


Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>