By: Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC; writes to parents of tweens and teens!
Research has shown some interesting data regarding adolescent's brains. We did know how the sudden bursts of testosterone and estrogen resulted in mood issues, more aggressiveness, more sexual drives; and like. We knew that the term of adolescents is when we see more non compliant behaviors as each attempt to rise to adulthood. We knew that there is a somewhat, "superman" syndrome that occurs with high risk behaviors that seem more prevalent while adolescents seem to throw caution to the wind to experience an "epic" moment although they do know that there is risks.
As a child enters puberty then that child also has a brain that goes into construction-literally. It prunes itself, cutting off certain parts and improving others. It looks like a mess (a clinical term, lol). Parts that have been dormant and not stimulated are pruned along with other parts. This results in chemical imbalances as well-in addition to the hormonal increases.
The male's brain receives 30-40% more testosterone and the female's brain also does increase in progesterone and estrogen. Have you ever done a major remodeling job at home and do you remember the chaos and clutter, while thinking-how in the world am I going to get this cleaned up? Well then, this is similar as to what the brain appears like during this process. This explains the short attention span, the easily irritated, easily frustrated, the unraveling of feelings at the smallest issue, the hyper-vigilance, and more. Does this give them an excuse to be rude, defiant, and aggressive? No since they are still under the same emotional and physical boundaries as they interact with others. However, their social boundaries have been redefined and programmed into them which often does conflict with healthy boundaries and if the parents are not truly engaged with this child-then he or she could easily enter into illegal and dangerous forums. Doing so however requires a hard hat for parents.
Sometimes children do not understand that this parent also has feelings. We personify attacks and become reactive; thus then we enter into power struggles. We feel disrespected and dishonored as our teen behaves as if an alien in contrast to that beautiful little child who was so tender and fun to be with. We miss that time when our children were kind and loving, grateful and obedient-as we have to transition from then, and into now as we must parent differently. Those who find it hard to transition will fight depression and anxiety as they are unable to comprehend their role or worth.
When the adolescent attacks or makes snide remarks we must remain calm and then ask them why, when, what, and how questions so as to understand them better instead of jumping on the defense-while affirming them but also reminding them that there is a boundary of respect-which looks like this or that, and that the adolescent will incur consequences if they choose to breach this or that. At this age-we cannot make them do anything which makes parents feel helpless. We do ask lots of questions, keep involved with peers and activities, give choices and follow through with the consequences. Those consequences must be something we can control since we cannot control the adolescent. There will need to be hard line boundaries for drugs and aggressiveness that are not negotiable and they must trust your word. Wear a hard hat to toughen up while providing heart, love, concern, and guidance. Should you need help in this transition and to help you and your adolescent to find peace then please call us today.