Teenagers and their brains


We all know that Adolescence is a time of change – Our children suddenly grow both in size and in ideas and start to put some of their childhood clothes, thoughts, and hobbies behind them.

Their moods can swing and their thinking can be less clear as they ride the emotional rollercoaster and their relationships change.

All kinds of hormones race around their bodies – not just the hormones related to sex, but also adrenalin, cortisol and oxytocin are triggered by the new experiences they explore.

Adolescents see the world differently. A child is much more able to correctly interpret facial expressions and body language than an adolescent is. Commonly many teenagers will mistake ‘fear’ for ‘disgust’ on their parents face. – I wish I had known this one when my kids were teenagers. If I showed fear when they were indulging in risky pursuits and they felt this as my disgust, it would have disrupted our already struggling communication. When I think back to my own parents I’m pretty sure I misunderstood their feelings and intentions too.

Let’s think about what it was like when you went from riding a bike to driving a car or driving a hatchback to driving a Formula 1 vehicle. Then try to remember what it was like driving your childhood brain and body.  Can you remember suddenly being expected to drive an adult’s brain and body? Sometimes we find we have time to learn to negotiate the change and sometimes it seems to happen overnight.

Puberty was a slow process for me and I watched my friends and sister manage the changes before I did. For my daughter it was very different, the changes seemed to happen overnight or perhaps just while I was looking the other way.

We sometimes forget that there are more changes that we cannot see in an adolescent than changes we can see.

If you want to know more about Navigating the Teenage Years do read the book of the same name by  Sue Saunders. Or reply to this post with any questions you may have.



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin