The Teen-aged Brain

Parents often talk about their “overly emotional” teenager or their teenager who “isn’t listening.” I’m sure that plenty of parents have hauled their teenagers to physicians’ offices to get their ears tested. Others have worriedly consulted psychologists about their kid’s emotions and behaviors.  I’ve certainly worked with many, many concerned parents about understanding and managing their adolescent children without exploding.  I work with teenagers also, but less often, and they too, will tell me that life is difficult and they don’t understand what is going on, either.

 It isn’t in the ear – it seems to be in the brain.  As the psychology of the brain continues to be a fascinating and growing field, researchers learn more about how the brain controls emotions and behaviors.  For example, your adolescent may actually be processing information differently from adults.  Studies that use neuroimaging have found that adolescents’ brains show that the frontal cortex is not completely developed in teenagers.  In practical terms, that means that your teenager may actually be interpreting your words differently than the way you presented the material.

 I am always impressed by how hard parents try to be responsible and to do their best. And I am equally amazed at children’s love for their parents and their ability to forgive our mistakes.

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