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Where Did My Happy Child Go?

Four Reasons Adolescents Act the Way They Do

When children turn the corner from being pre-teens to adolescents, they seem to go from being from small, happy beings that love life and adult company to larger, strange, moody beings that look at life darkly and despise adults.

There are at least four reasons for this.

  • First, due to the rapidly developing emotional part of their brain, teenagers are often bored by the stuff adults want them to do. Church, family dinners, working on the homecoming float and other parent-directed activities aren’t nearly as interesting as hanging with friends, driving around town, flirting with the outer edge of curfew and looking for drama and/or action.
  • Second, for the first time in their lives, kids need to be special. Unfortunately, for the first time in their life, they often are not. In other words, just when teenagers need us to really understand and accept them, they confuse us and do and say a lot of stuff we reject. Another reason for this incompatibility is the way they see their parents and other adults. Where we once were their heroes and time with us was as good as it could be, they now think we’re boring, stupid and unfair.
  • Third, a huge conflict between their dependency on us and their desire to be independent emerges. Teenagers vividly imagine they could make it on their own if only we would get out of the way. Yet, they regularly need us for such things as rides, money for the mall and signatures on important forms. They hate this.
  • Finally, there is puberty. It comes out of nowhere and disrupts everything.

The good news is that although this darkness often masquerades as a true mental health problem, it is usually merely one of the many forms of Temporary Adolescent Insanity, an affliction that will pass with time and understanding.

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