Monday, July 2, 2012

Adolescent thinking

For those of you that wonder about adolescent thinking I will share two things with you that might help when things don't make sense.

The first is a video on YouTube - What you will learn is that even for the brightest, mature teen, when emotions come in to play their brains are not significantly wired to overcome those emotions. This means that when discussing things with teens that the conversations need to take place prior to the situation and be done calmly.

The second comes from the book, NurtureShock, and it deals with issues of conflict. "In the dictionary, the antonym of honesty is lying, and the opposite of arguing is agreement. But in the minds of teenagers, that's not how it works. Really, to an adolescent, arguing is the opposite of lying."

From research on teens they asked the youth when and why they told the truth to their parents about things they knew their parents disapproved of. Occasionally teens told the truth because they knew a lie wouldn't fly - they would just be caught. Sometimes they told the truth because they felt obliged, saying, "They are my parents, I'm supposed to tell them."

BUT they found that the primary motivation that emerged was they told the truth in hopes that their parents might give in and say it was okay. They also found that in families where there was less deception, there was more arguing and complaining. Arguing was seen by the teens as good. They equated arguing with honesty. Parents saw arguing as being disrespectful and stressful. Teens saw arguing as an honest sharing of thinking and emotion. They saw it as a powerful means of communicating with their parents and being able to tell their parents what they thought.
The part of the brain that deals with judgment, decision making, delay of graddification, etc. is the prefrontal cortex. This is the part the is over-ridden with strong emotions, agitation and excitement. SURPRISE.

Having read this and looked at the research I shared the information with some teens that I know. They completely agreed with the research. Interesting! SO taking the two issues together it is important for parents to have few rules and more discussions with their teens on a variety of issues and to recognize that teens are still coming to grips with their thinking and emotions. My recommendation is that the next time your teen and you have an argument, when it is over give him or her a hug and thank them for sharing with you. Then go out for ice cream and have another discussion.