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Today’s Teen - issue​​​​1234​5​

Making Sense of Chaos

We were all teenagers once, right? So why does it seem like teenagers are from another planet? Why are they so difficult to understand? And why do they do things that range from weird and strange to downright stupid and dangerous?

Believe it or not, there is actually a physiological explanation for the above questions, and it has to do with the way the human brain develops. You see, the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain that governs rational thought - doesn't fully develop until most people are in their mid-twenties. Instead, your teen is governed much more by the portion of the brain that governs emotional responses.

In short, this means that teens are driven by emotion much more than logic. This is why teens do things like take dad's car out for a joyride or blow off studying for a test to go to a movie. They are more geared toward activities that deliver instant gratification and emotion - and less geared toward things that contribute to rational thought.

In light of this information, it may be tempting to give up entirely, believing your teen's chaotic behavior is purely a result of a natural process of brain development and, therefore, out of your hands. However, that is not the case. As a parent, you do have a great influence over your teen and can help guide him or her through this roller-coaster stage of development.

Teaching Activity

Get on Their Level

For this activity, the assignment is to get to know your teen on his or her level. Try to carve out 30 minutes or so a week - more if possible - to spend some one-on-one time with your teen. Let it be known that he or she can say anything during this session without fear of repercussion. Try to get your teen to open up and tell you things that are pressing on his or her mind, whether they are fears or worries or new relationships or whatever. While some topics may seem mundane to you as an adult, they will be of serious import to your adolescent child, so treat them as such. Others will surprise you in the seriousness of their nature. You may even find yourself being able to relate them to issues you experienced at that age. The important thing is to communicate. The more you do, the more you will know and understand what's going on in your teen's life.

Social Skills

Following Instructions

This skill is useful for both teen and parent, although it is likely that the teen is in greater need of learning it. So when you or your child is upset over something, use the following skill steps:

  • Learn - what situations cause you ​to lose control or make you angry.
  • Monitor - the feelings you have in stressful situations.
  • Instruct - yourself to breathe deeply and relax when stressful feelings begin to arise.
  • Reword - angry feelings so they are expressed appropriately and calmly to others.
  • Praise - yourself for controlling emotional outbursts.

Coming up in Issue 2

Dealing With Irrationality

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Getting Them Involved

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Asking For Help

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