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How To Understand Your Teenager


Going through adolescence is not fun, all those hormones flying around, body changing, your voice can't be relied on if you're a boy, the spots, the greasy hair, the peer pressure. As adults we often forget how daunting being a teenager is. Carl Jung, the psychotherapist, likened the archetype of vampire to being adolescent and probably accounts for the fascination of vampires with teenagers, such as the success of Twilight and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The body is growing faster than the brain can keep up with, their strength is growing, they feel immortal and of course the “blood lust” as sexual hormones kick in. Interestingly teenagers are the only group of individuals who can live quite happily out of society; hence the language that they develop, the groups/fashion that they choose to follow allows them to have all they need.


Living with a teenager

Having a teenager in your house can be a different matter altogether and is often a very testing time within families. There can be lots of arguments and the inevitable testing of boundaries. A lot of this is due to the changes that are actually happening in their brain development.  Why has your previously loving, happy child erupted with emotion at the simplest of statements? Hormones and a natural desire to move towards independence accounts for some of it. New research has shown there is something very special happening in the teenage brain. There is an increase in grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex – the part that deals with thinking, reasoning, logic and decision making. You can liken it to a tree suddenly growing and branching out. At puberty some of those branches have to be pruned. This huge change in the brain causes upheaval and change especially with regard to logic and reasoning. These changes mean:
  • A teenage brain doesn't understand certain emotions and will mistake frustration for anger or concern for anger.
  • Teenagers need more sleep.
  • Teenagers tend to take more risks.
  • Teenagers try new things e.g. drinking and smoking.
  • Teenagers are prone to depression.
How can you help as a parent?
  • Be patient, I know that's hard but in the long run it will help.
  • Explain with words the emotions you are feeling e.g. I am concerned about...
  • Set boundaries together, they actually feel safer when there are boundaries in place.
  • Accept their bedroom as their space and let them keep it as they want it, difficult I appreciate!!
  • Remember it is a temporary phase, it doesn't last for ever.
  • Explain that emotional reactions are good things and not always negative.
  • Help them reduce stress.
  • Keep a sense of humour and know this is normal.
The wonderful Readers at TheCircle can really help you see the way through these challenging times, so give them a call. Remember you are doing your best, as your parents did.


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