Teens Driving You Crazy?

“As it turns out, teenagers may, indeed, be a bit crazy. But they are crazy according to a primal blueprint; they are crazy by design.” Barbara Strauch, author of The Primal Teen

Did you know that the greatest changes to the parts of the brain that are responsible for impulse control, judgment, decision-making, and other similar functions occur in adolescence? Furthermore, this area of the brain (prefrontal cortex) does not reach full maturity until around age 25. So it’s not surprising, then, that teenagers may seem “a bit crazy.” 

One step a parent can take to deal with teens is to become educated in the developmental challenges they face, such as forming their own identity and values separate from you.  That is one of the reasons why friends become so important at this age; friends serve as a stepping stone to truly independent thinking.  It is also why teens are so critical of parents and try to spend as little time as possible with them.

In order to help teens accomplish the task of separating, parents need to step back a bit from being a ‘manager,’ who oversees day-to-day operations in their teens’ lives, and start becoming more of a ‘consultant,’ who is called on when needed.   

However, this need to give your teen ‘more rope’ in making his own decisions needs to be balanced with the awareness that his brain is not fully developed and his judgment is not mature.  This is a very tricky dance with your teen and one of the many reasons why parenting a teen is so challenging.

by Claire Gawinowicz,
Certified Parenting Educator

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