Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life Is Awesome!!!

Zits Cartoon for May/15/2013

When the "awesome" part of your teen's brain kicks in, there is just no stopping it. Trying to talk to it (your teen) logically when it has exploded with awesome, or anger, or sadness, or frustration is near to impossible.

In a study done a few years back, researchers wanted to look at the similarities and differences between the adult and the teen brain. Their hypothesis was that they would function the same when given an identical task to perform. While having their brains scanned, both groups were shown pictures of faces showing a variety of emotions. They were to name the emotion shown on the face. The brain scan identified the part of the brain that was in the highest activation while each subject was doing this task. The results: In the adults, the highest activation was in the frontal cortex, the thinking part of the brain. This was no surprise to the researchers, that is what they expected to find. In teens, the highest activation was in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. Literally, adults and teens live in different parts of the brain. How many adults would look at 4 nights on concrete waiting for concert tickets,  heaven! I rest my case.

Your teen will present ideas that are crazy, cockamamie, ridiculous and to them completely awesome. The logical part of their brain is often held hostage to the emotional amygdala. When you say with such incredulousness: "What were you thinking?????" after a particularly dumb incident, the truth is, they weren't thinking, they were feeling!

Your best strategy during one of these "feeling" episodes is to stay calm, avoid being judgemental or critical, saying instead: " I get this is so exciting for you, or upsetting, or frustrating." It may be that there is no need to intervene or "teach a lesson" if there is nothing unsafe or unreasonable going on. Lecturing during a "feeling" moment will literally fall on deaf ears. Perhaps this crazy idea will  elicit a "no" from you. Maybe it is unsafe or unreasonable. In that case, try really hard not to label this as crazy, and a "what are you thinking moment." Instead using the "I get it: statement above, understand with them their feelings, give a short (and I mean short) explanation of why it is a no, give an  "I"m sorry this can't happen, I know you are disappointed." Done!

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