Do you remember when your teenager was a cute 9 year old? They took telephone messages (maybe with questionable spelling, but they took it) and made sure you got it.
Now they are somewhere between 12 and 25 years old and they lose track of everything; forget to give you the message; often have a certain far away glazed look on their faces; and, can’t seem to do many things that seemed so easy a few years back.
Parents explain to me that their kid is deliberately being forgetful out of disrespect and have no motivation. I know that this is not true. There’s an actual scientific explanation to what is really going on: it has to do with brain development!
We used to believe that brain development was completed by the age of 6, including their personality. What used to be “a fact”, turns out to be wrong: but the old beliefs are still being talked about as fact.
What really happens is that from puberty to our mid twenties, our brains are doing a lot of rewiring. When our offspring seems to be day dreaming, basically, a lot of their brainpower linked to organizational skills and memory are temporarily out of service while the wiring gets upgraded. It’s a long process which interrupts their capacities and requires patience on the part of their parents.
Years ago, I heard Dr. Micheal J. Bradley, the author of “Yes, Your Teenager is Crazy!”, talk about a study that they did in a high school in New York city.
They went to the morning classes and hooked up a bunch of kids to see what kind of brain patterns they have earlier in the day. The results looked like they were all in a brain coma! Ha!
So what do you know? Scientific proof that morning is not their best time!
It turns out that in the animal kingdom, they found similar results in herds of animals. For example, in a deer herd, the older deer sleep with the youngest of the group while the teenagers hang out on the outskirts during the late hours to raise the alarm at night.
During the adolescent years, your growing child’s whole cognitive functioning is impaired. And (as a bad joke) their hormones kick in at the same time which their brain has to learn to manage while things are often offline. (We keep blaming the hormones but it’s really the combination that is the problem.)
All this to say, if your teenager is driving you crazy, it’s only because they are temporarily out of order: or, as Dr. Bradley said, temporarily insane.
So, please, try and be patient with them and talk to them later in the day! Model respect by respecting their temporary insanity and working around it! More on communicating with your teen in my next post. 🙂
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I would really love to hear from you!
As a Family Life Educator and Crisis Interventionist, I started out my coaching years focusing on Family Life. Now I specialize in understanding the people in our lives who drive us crazy, professionally and personally, so that we can bridge that gap and become more collaborative.
Forward this post to your friends who need an answer to talking to their troublesome teens.
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”