The Adolescent Brain
According to National Geographic, Dr. Amen, and UCLA, changes occur in the adolescent brain eighteen months prior to puberty or as early as age eight for girls and age nine for boys. This is when the hormones that lead to puberty are released. These hormones usher in a phase of brain development where synapses are created between different areas of the brain in its back lobes. This is when our kids' brains become adaptive and flexible and is why youth begin to reevaluate all they once believed and begin to question their parents publically or privately. Simply put, their brains now have new ways to analyze and combine thoughts, ideas, and inforamtion from which to view the information, concepts, and beliefs they have held without question earlier in life.
As synapses are developed in the back lobes of the brain activity levels in the front lobe of the brain decrease. In the front lobe of the brain are consequence evaluation, emotional regulation, and short term memory to name a few. As a result of the shift in their brains activity, our kids' fear drops along with their ability to evaluate future consequences. They also become more oppositional because of diminished emotional regulation. This is the reason so many parents wonder what happened to my sweet kid?
One may ask themselves why this is such an issue today. Even at the founding of our nation the way 13 to 16 year olds were viewed was much different. George Washington was 13 years old when he went out to survey the land by himself for the first time. In our modern world we have redefined childhood and extended it. We now call this age period adolescence, a term not used in our country until 1906. The result is that just as parents become most fearful of what could go wrong with their kids, their kids' brains are designed to leave and learn better through independence and experience.
Learn more by watching the video below from YTNU, our parent support community, that explains how brain development impacts our kids' need for independence.
YTN’s qualitative research found that the predominant parenting approaches from the past and which are being taught today do not align well with the changes occurring in youths’ brains. Our desire to protect and help our kids succeed and the way we have been trained to address issues combine to kick off their oppositional nature. The result is the commonly accepted breakdown in the parent adolescent relationship. Parents may not perceive the level of the breakdown as youth quickly learn to act a role for their parents to keep relative peace. Rather the breakdown takes the form of an emotional divorce from their parents on the part of youth and results in the predominant influence in their lives becoming their friends and the youth culture.
Aligning our approach to parenting with the changes that occur in the adolescent brain can bring about powerful changes in the relationship and in the motivation and direction of our kids.
Watch sessions one and two of the Secrets of Influential Parenting for free today.