The Adolescent Brain
According to National Geographic, Dr. Amen, and UCLA, changes occur in the adolescent brain 18 months prior to puberty (as early as eight or nine) 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. The consequence of this development is that brain activity decreases in the frontal lobe of the brain where emotional regulation, short term memory, and planning functions reside. This change leads to many of the behavior and performance challenges with adolescents as they become more forgetful, emotional and oppositional.
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 levels drop along with their ability to evaluate future consequences and they become more oppositional because of diminished emotional regulation. This is the reason so many parents wonder what happened to my sweet kid?
YTN’s qualitative research concluded that the predominant leadership style and parenting approaches employed today do not align well with the changes occurring in youths’ brains. The accepted approaches to addressing issues with our students/kids frequently trips off the oppositional nature leading to emotional distance, resistance and often dismissal of any input altogether. When this occurs YTN found that youth focus on the consequence or negative outcome, how unfair it is, and do not reflect on the situation and what they might learn. Adolescent brain research indicates youth learn best from independence and positive experiences.
Our research and coaching with parents and adolescents found that parents tend to interpret the changes they see in their sweet kids as issues they need to fix. They attempt to do so using the strategies and habits developed while parenting young children who are less emotional and oppositional than adolescents. This results in the commonly accepted breakdown in the parent adolescent relationship.
Often parents do not perceive the breakdown as youth quickly learn to act a part for their parents to keep the relative peace. Rather the breakdown takes on the form of an emotional divorce on the part of youth from their parents. As a result, the predominant influence in their lives becomes their friends and the youth culture.
Aligning their approach with the changes that occur in the adolescent brain can bring about powerful changes in the relationship, motivation, and influence parents and other adults have in students’ lives. Watch session one and two of the Secrets of Influential Parenting for free today.