Did you know that the teenage brain has the capability to actually downgrade danger? Research suggests that the teenage brain possesses a remarkable ability to downplay danger, making things appear less perilous than they actually are. In all my research and practice, I have never really understood why the teenage brain does that. While this may seem perplexing, some believe it could be an evolutionary mechanism designed to encourage exploration and experimentation without fear.

This innate drive for exploration, however, comes with downsides, and the fear it instills in parents often leads to over control and over management. This goes against their natural evolutionary impulse, and the obvious reaction for them is to rebel. 

They rebel in multiple ways, but usually it can be divided into 2 categories. Sometimes they sink in, they stop communicating much with us. They become more secretive. The doors of their rooms are usually shut. Other times, they act out.

Usually when our kids act out, regardless of their age, their behavior or actions/reactions is a good thing. It is better, that they are acting out instead of keeping all those emotions within them. Underneath every child that is screaming or yelling there is a person that is sad, hurt and in pain. These reactions from their end is more like a GPRS system telling you that something is going on beneath all that.

"Teens thrive when emotions find expression; it's a sign of connection.”

This mantra underscores the importance of acknowledging and accepting the emotional rollercoaster that teenagers experience.

Often we find it hard to accept their reactions or emotions, cause we have yet not dealt with our own emotions on many aspects. Also, when they were younger it was easier for us to shut their emotions or reactions. We could hush them or ignore them. But as they grow older they find more will and power, to assert themselves in many different ways, that I am sure you are familiar with. Now, this is when it becomes a challenge for us parents, cause as they are growing older, it is getting harder for us to get them to react the way we want them to, v/s what they are actually feeling. 

Discussion about the troublesome teens has been gaining a lot of momentum over the years, specially now more than ever. Parents are tired of hearing the same explanation that teenagers go through a lot of hormonal and physiological changes, which is a big reason for them to behave this way. Parents are left perplexed by this, not because it is not true, but firstly this explanation is often given to them as a justification for their children’s ongoing behavior, that goes on for years. This leaves parents in ambiguity as to where they should draw the boundaries to any behavior. Hence in a way this explanation leaves them with more questions than answers.

It is difficult for parents to understand and/or empathize with their children, until they can not just understand but integrate with what it truly means. So this is my attempt at giving you a wider picture with what is actually going on with them. 

A lot of parents ask me, “But we weren’t like that when we were teens. Didn’t we also go through all those physiological and hormonal changes? We never acted the way teens today do.” 

Yes that is true. So why is it that today’s children should be exempted from their behavior. Now this is also where we go wrong. Just cause your child is behaving in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that behavior is acceptable. Teenagers aren’t adults, they are still children, and must be treated as such. Their brains are not completely developed yet, so they must still follow their parents guidance for higher level executive functions, like planning, organizing, decision making, self-monitoring, inhibiting behaviors etc. 

These are just few of the functions of the frontal lobe of the brain, which is still underdeveloped for teenagers. Hence it is important for parents to substitute these functions in their children’s lives. So drawing boundaries for your teens is indeed a very healthy thing you can do for them. I can almost see a lot of parents smirking at this explanation, even as I am typing. Probably waiting to show to their teenagers, who is in charge. 

Another perception to this whole explanation is that because your teenagers frontal lobes’ are still not completely developed, they are not a 100% capable of performing actions that require them to self-motivate, behave in a certain way, self-control, be more organized etc. Many of the things that we expect them to do by themselves, and get annoyed or think otherwise when they don’t do it. 

It is also true that  most of the time, teens aren't acting against their parents.. It’s just they have things going on in school, with their peers etc. and their feelings are exaggerated towards those situations, so they are just acting out, or let’s say reacting to those situations. They honestly have nothing against us, but we tend to take it personally when they for e.g disrespect us. We need to understand that their intention is not to disrespect us. They are just reacting to the situations around them in an exaggerated way without thinking enough about respecting people around them. 


When we stop taking their reactions personally and then teach them the right things with the help of modeling, connection and also through boundaries, parents can guide their teens through this tumultuous period. As simple as it sounds, it requires us to first work on ourselves, which in itself is a lot of work, but totally worth it. 

Let’s not forget, while navigating the teenage years can be challenging, it's also an opportunity for growth, understanding, and connection between parents and their children. Embracing these complexities with empathy and actively working on oneself can lead to a more harmonious parent-teen relationship. As I always say, our relationship with our children is a life-long one. One that spans through generations, so all the effort we make is going to have a domino effect in the generations to come. 

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