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Today’s Teen - issue​​​​1234​5​

Dealing With Irrationality

"Why did you do that???"

"I dunno."

This brief exchange is commonly heard in homes all across America. The first voice is the incredulous parent, having discovered that his or her teen has just done something mindboggling. The second is the teen, responding tersely but honestly, because he or she really doesn't know.

As previously discussed, there is a reason for this. The part of the brain that deals with rational thought does not fully develop until we reach our mid-20s. This, unfortunately, leaves teenagers in the grasp of their emotions, often engaging in activities that offer immediate gratification, whether the emotion is rage, happiness or anything in-between.

The upshot of all this is that it is essentially futile to understand why your teen does the things he or she does. It also means that it is equally futile to get into an argument with your teenage son or daughter because, in doing so, you run the risk of simply engaging in emotional, rage-driven actions that risk closing the lines of communication between you and your teen - something you don't want to happen.

Teaching Activity

Getting Them Involved

Here's an activity designed to get your teen actively involved in something that benefits the whole family: making dinner. Have your teen plan, shop for and cook a meal for the entire family. Your adolescent chef can make anything he or she wants - within reason of course.

Give them a set amount of money for purchasing ingredients. This also helps them learn to budget, which is another rational activity. Be available throughout the process if your teen asks for help.

Cooking a meal is an activity that requires a set of skills that lead to a specific outcome, so it's a great way to get your teen to develop planning skills. Also, it teaches a fundamental life skill that will serve your teen well when he or she is older and out of the house.

Social Skills

Asking for Help

If your teen tries the above teaching activity, there is always the chance that things won't go exactly as planned. Failure is inevitable in life, and those who go on to be successful as adults understand that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. When failure happens - and it will - have your teen try the following:

  • Accurately Identify - that you did not succeed in a particular activity.
  • Remain - calm and relaxed.
  • Instruct them to control emotional behavior.
  • Find - a caring adult and discuss your disappointment or other negative feelings.
  • Be Willing - to try again to be successful.

Coming up in Issue 3

The Wrong Crowd


Host A Gathering


Resisting Peer Pressure

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.
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