We all have been through the teen years. They aren’t easy. And one of the hardest things about being a teenager was relating to those parents who think they know everything about being a teenager. Now that we are the parents of these teenagers (or soon to be) it might help to know as much as we can.
Here are 10 facts every parent should know about a teenagers brain.
10. – Critical Period of Development
The brain grows throughout life, but the teenage years see one of the biggest leaps in development. Many of the things they learn that stick with them for the rest of their lives happen during this time in their lives.
9. – Blossoming brain
Scientists thought only infants had the blossoming brain that organizes into a more efficient arrangement over the first three years of life, but they have now discovered a similar effect happens right before puberty. And experiences during their teen lives shape this gray matter of learning things that will be essential for their adult lives.
8. – New Thinking Skills
An increase in brain matter causes the processing power of a teen brain to increase. This is where a teens heightened computational and decision making skills start to show.
7. – Teen Tantrums
Teens are changing faster than they realize and new brain skills like advanced problem solving and abstract thought are there, but they aren’t quite ready to harness them. This is why teens freak out and throw tantrums that are a little more adult. It’s not the parents fault no matter how much the teen says it is. But the parent needs to help them figure out the things they don’t quite yet understand.
6. – Intense Emotions
With a lot of new areas of the brain developing some older teens have harnessed all these areas to help understand a higher area of thought. While younger teens haven’t quite figured out how to use all of their reasoning and tend to misread what adults are saying.
5. – Peer Pleasure
Research has shown that as abstract thinking develops in teens so does anxiety. Abstract thinking allows teens to see themselves in the eyes of another and causes some teens to strive for peer approval.
4. – Measuring Risk
In the car that is a teen brain they tend to get the gas before they get the brakes. The part of the brain that helps them see long term consequence don’t start to develop until around 17, which causes some teens to more easily participate in risky behaviors in their early years of adolescence.
3. – Parents Are Still Important
Parents provide structure. They might not always agree, or like what you have to say, but they do respect you and they do understand that you are wiser than they are…even if they say the complete opposite.
2. – Need More Sleep
A common myth is that teens needs less sleep than young children, but at the age when their brain is growing faster than all but infancy they still need 9-10 hours to make sure that not hindering that growth. Teens bodies don’t help this, as they are growing they tend to want to stay up later because of circadian rhythms during adolescence, but with early school and other things waking them from sleep they miss out on a few hours every night. That increases moodiness and causes a drowsy brain as the week progresses.
1. – I am the Center Of The Universe
The Teen years are the first time a child is really seeing themselves in the world. They see how the world looks at them and put themselves in a place they feel fits their own view of themselves. This causes the “I’m not good enough” emotion seen in a lot of teens. It also causes a lot of questions that can seem to have very black and white answers, instead of gray. It is the parent’s job to help them explore those questions instead of just giving the answers.