Friday, September 12, 2014

Lack of Experience and Brain Development


I wanted to write a post about why we should all be more patient with our teens.  Sometimes teenagers act like little adults.  It certainly seems that they should have the same judgement we do when they are making decisions.  But then we are surprised when they do something so silly, we can't understand where it came from.  For instance, once my son put off starting his homework until MIDNIGHT.  Yes, midnight, in spite of reminders to get going on his homework by his parents...and then he started a couple of HUGE assignments that were due the next day...and finally went to sleep at 5am.  He had to get up at 6am.

Needless to say, I was perplexed.  He seems like such a sensible boy.  Why would he do something so dumb?  Anyway, he went to school and had a very hard time staying awake in his classes, and hopefully that taught him his lesson.

But seriously, why do they act that way?  There have been studies done recently on the teenage brain that offer some answers.  They have found that teenagers' cerebral cortex, the front part of the brain that helps with judgement doesn't start its huge development until age 16.  (One reason why it's good to make teens wait to date until 16).  Also they don't have the experience to make good judgements yet, so sometimes they do really dumb stuff.

So if this happens to you, and it's a good idea to remember the above and teach instead of criticizing.  Help them learn from their experiences by talking about it with them often.  It will preserve the relationship much better if we are patient with our teens as they learn.

There is a book that explains why teens have these problems called, "Why do they Act that Way?" by Dr. David Walsh, PhD, which can really help you understand teens better and have more patience with them.  It has helped me to be more understanding when my teens have made some really dumb decisions.

Here it is:

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