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Those troubled teens

Impulsiveness, unpredictability, mood swings - this is not bad parenting at all, but understandable physiology. And if you understand it in time, you can establish a relationship with your child and avoid making mistakes.

By adolescence, the brain is 80% formed. The frontal part of the brain, which is responsible for logical thinking, planning, and decision-making, is finally formed and strengthens the connections between parts of the brain only by the mid-twenties.

Two major processes occur during adolescence:

  1. Coating of neuronal connections in the brain with myelin, which speeds up the transfer of information between cells. Thinking becomes more differentiated.
  2. Elimination of unnecessary cells. Due to this the performance of the brain is increased.

These processes occur at different times in different parts of the brain. The regulation of thoughts, feelings and actions is slowed down. This explains the impulsiveness of adolescents who do not have time to think about consequences.

Another reason why teens perceive the world differently is the growth of the area of gray matter responsible for reward. The concentration of the happy hormone (Dopamine) is very high and children reach for adventure, receiving encouragement from the brain.

Hormonal restructuring does its part. Sex hormones are produced. During this period, the hormone Cortisol is elevated, which gives the commands "hit" and "run". We get an aggressive reaction in a teenager to a small remark. Or on the contrary, the person closes in on himself.⠀

This indicates that the teenager has difficulty with logical thinking. Reading "moralizing" and "notations" only leads to irritability or isolation.

The best thing to do at this age is to support, guide and listen to the child. For example, through questions. Open-ended ones to which the person you are talking will answer more than just yes or no. Listen without the "I'm older and know better" comment. Teenagers simply do not understand that your life experience and knowledge can help them. Do not criticize, but talk more, communicate openly.

Patience, the ability not to take bad moods and emotional swings personally will help you through this period of your teen's growing up.


Valentina Gerasimov

educational psychologist, child and teenager coach 

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