Teens think differently than adults, plain and simple. And there’s more to it than the fact that maturity, life experience and wisdom serve as filters through which adults process their thoughts…
The brain develops from the back to the front, starting with the cerebellum, amygdala and the nucleus accumbens.
You might be thinking: “Did Jeff just cuss at me?”
The Prefrontal Cortex
Those three words I used control your physical activity, emotions and your motivation. The front part of your brain is the last to develop – and this includes the prefrontal cortex, which controls reasoning and impulse.
The front part of the brain doesn’t mature until roughly age 25. See what I’m getting at?
Your teens might be acting recklessly or impulsively because of a huge burst of brain development in adolescence – which explains why kids sometimes act first and think later or display unpredictable or risky behavior.
I know I acted impulsively when I was a teen. Didn’t you? We should give our kids a break and acknowledge that we did reckless things too. If we are open about this, it would be much easier for us to become the trusted adults our kids need in our lives. Remember, though, that that doesn’t mean that we should share everything.
If you couple the not-yet-developed brain with depression or any other mental illness, this reckless behavior can get worse. We have all seen teenagers lash out in a fit of anger, and I don’t mean a typical temper tantrum. Add alcohol and/or drugs to this mix and you have a recipe for disaster.
The Here and Now
Young people live in the here and the now – and they don’t yet have the foresight to realize that something seemingly permanent is in fact fleeting, no matter what it looks like at the time.
Teens: How you feel now isn’t how you will feel tomorrow or ten years from now. Depression, substance abuse or other mental illnesses are certain to compound the feeling that what might be going on now will be permanent.
There is hope. Even when you think you are at rock bottom, there is hope. Remember that there are people who understand how you feel – and more importantly why you feel or act the way you do. You are growing up and maturing like everybody else. You are not alone.
Above content is Part Five in a series based on Jeff’s new book, Teen Suicide: The “Why” Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic
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