Inside The Mind Of A Teenager: A Parent's Guide - CATEGORY Prime News: TITLE

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1. STOP asking “What’s wrong with you?”

There’s nothing wrong with this question, if you genuinely want to know. However all-too-often, it’s a rhetorical outburst, blurted out by parents who have run out of patience.

Worse still, it sends the message you think there is something fundamentally defective about your child, which can never be changed.

>What’s actually 'wrong’ with teens

is that the frontal lobes in their brains, which controls impulses, reasoning and planning, are the last to be rewired for adulthood.

While this re-arrangement is going on, decision-making is re-routed via the amygdala, a primal part of their brain which reacts instantaneously and emotionally to any perceived threat.

>Neuroscientist, Dr. Frances Jensen, author of new book 'The Teenage Brain

says: 'Teenagers make much more sense when you understand that the frontal lobes of the brain - the part responsible for judgment, impulse control, mood and emotions - is the last part to fully develop.

'So the brain just doesn’t know how to regulate itself yet. They’re like Ferraris with weak brakes. '

Of course, it’s easy to assume that this doesn’t matter because teens never listen anyway, but, on the contrary, they are hypersensitive to our opinions of them. Pretending not to care is their defence mechanism.

To confused adolescent, such despairing comments from the parent who is supposed to love them the most, can cut deep.

Such messages get turned inwards into negative self-talk.

These voices can be very hard to silence once they take hold in a >teen’s malleable brain

, just as it is laying down the pathways which will influence their future mental health.

Instead one of the greatest gifts you can give your teen at this age is not only an understanding of what is happening inside their mind, but also the concept of 'a growth mindset.’

The approach, developed by >Stanford psychology professor Carole Dweck

, means simply explaining that no negative trait is ever fixed or stuck, and that we can all evolve and change. The latest scientific research into the adolescent brain proves this is absolutely the case.

Photo: Alamy

2. DON’T raise your voice

While we try not to shout at young children because it makes us feel like bullies, parents often >find themselves raising their voices when their offspring

become an equal match in size.

A full-scale outburst can also feel like the easiest - or even the only option - to show teens you really mean business. At times like this our 'reptile brain’- the basic instinct of fight or flight that kicks in before our higher thought processes have the chance to modify them – takes over.

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