Understanding your Teenager

ADOLESCENT = Adult + Essence

ES.SE.N.CE – Emotional Spark, Social Engagement, Novelty, Creative Exploration

Brainstorm by Daniel J. Siegel

In Dan Siegel’s new book “Brainstorm”, you will find many of the answers to understanding your teenager. This book gives tremendous insight into the workings of the adolescent brain in its quest to becoming more integrated. As a parent, having this knowledge is to our advantage in helping us understand them, empathize with them and most importantly, maintain a connection with them. Siegel applies his knowledge into everyday “teenage events / occurrences” and uses case studies as examples. He really helps make sense of this age and stage.

What is happening to their brains?

The brain undergoes incredible changes during this time. The neural pathways are quite literally being reconstructed and, what’s referred to as, being pruned. There is also an enhanced dopamine release system that drives us to reward and satisfaction that is activated. Coupled with this, a type of behavior that Siegel refers to as hyperrationality occurs which is when the evaluation centre in the brain downplays or deemphasizes the negative side of things (cons) and overplays the positive (pros) resulting in an increased reward drive focus of the brain. Many behaviors become dopamine driven and hyperrational.

Typical behavior patterns:

  • Taking part in riskier activities
  • Being less rational and logical
  • Becoming more impulsive
  • Being prone to take things the wrong way
  • Over reacting to things that are seemingly benign
  • Complaining of being bored

What happens to us?

This can all be very challenging to parents, particularly when it comes to living with this changing and evolving person and maintaining a strong and connected attachment / relationship with them.

In my next post, I will be discussing what we can do.

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