Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parenting the Adolescent Brain, 3

In her book Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress, Sheyl Feinstin explains that adolescents are beginning to develop the computational and decision-making skills that will characterize adulthood, if they are given time and access to information. Unfortunately (often for parents and teachers if not the adolescents themselves) in the heat of the moment, the decision-making of the teenagers can be overly influenced by emotions, because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex. They are often dramatic and irrational. They yell or cry for seemingly no reason. They have often conflicting needs for tender loving care and for greater independence, which can make parenting a challenge. The adolescents need individuals with the more stable adult brain (parents, teachers, mentors, and older family members) to help them by staying calm, listening and being good role models. It is not about the adult (assuming they are being rational and functional); it is about the erratic development of the teen-age brain. Teens still need parents and effective parenting. a teen no longer needs parents (even if they protest otherwise). They still need structure and guidance and look to these adults for that (even if it appears they are not observing them). Feinstin says that the parent who “decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." Part 4 tomorrow.

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