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 and youth ministry leaders publicly 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 our kids fear drops along with their ability to evaluate future consequences and they become more oppositional given the diminished emotional regulation. This is the reason so many parents wonder what happened to my sweet kid?
Learn more by watching the video from our parent support community that explains how the brain development impacts our kids and our relationship with them throughout adolescence below.
The question....why did God develop the brain this way? In biblical times what we call kids were adults at age 13 to 16! God designed the brain to question, become oppositional and to be fearless so that they would leave their homes in this time frame. In our modern world we have redefined childhood. Today just as parents become afraid of what could go wrong our kids brains begin to question, push back and are designed to leave!
YTN’s qualitative research concluded 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 combined with the way we have been trained to address issues kick off the oppositional nature of our kids and result in a breakdown in the parent adolescent relationship. Parents often do not perceive 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.