The Best Habit You Can Teach Your Teen!

file0001811854849Do you know the best habit you can teach your teen? Nope, it’s not making their bed, or turning their clothes right side out before throwing them in the hamper. It’s not be nice, or be brave, or study hard. It may be your grandma’s favorite saying. It’s absolutely old school, and it just may save your teens life!

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight.

Did you hear that growing up? Do you say it to your teens today? There are a billion things that can go wrong after midnight for teens and adults, but just look at the statistics of drinking and driving to convince yourself  grandma was a genius. But be warned, if you take Grandmas advice, you won’t be the most popular parent. Your teen might hate it and may even seem to hate you for a little while.  In fact, they may pressure you every weekend for a few extra minutes or an extra hour on the night of a big party or a school dance. It’s tempting to give them an extra hour or to get a little loose on the rules. It might even be hard to stay up that late waiting to be sure they are following the rules. After all you have probably worked all day and are exhausted.  It is absolutely ok to tell your teens you will be going to bed at 10PM because you are tired, have worked all week and need to be up early for some reason or another therefore they need to be in by 10PM too! They are a part of a family and will need to be respectful and aware of others in the home! There is no reason parents need to be exhausted and tired so that their teens can be out an hour longer “hanging out” with friends.

Use these numbers to strengthen your resolve.

Parenting is overwhelming and exhausting.

Especially after midnight!

 

Three out of four drunk driving accidents occur in the early morning hours between midnight and 3 a.m. (NHTSA)

Midnight to 3am is the time period that involves the most fatalities from drunk driving. (NHTSA)

Drunk driving involvement in fatal crashes in 2011 was 4.5 times higher at night  than during the day.  (36 versus 8 percent) (NHTSA)

More teens die from fatal automobile accidents that homicide and suicide combined.

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Male teenagers are twice as likely to die in an automobile accident.

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More teens die Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

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(www.iihs.org)

 

Whether it’s your teen drinking or someone else’s teen drinking it is more dangerous for teens to be out on the roads after midnight.

Enforcing your curfew or your town’s curfew may just save your teens life.

 

Download a Parental Responsibility Tool Kit Here:

http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/teens

Download a Parent Handbook here:

http://support.madd.org/site/PageNavigator/getTheParentHandbook.html

Does Your Teen Have What It Takes To Succeed?

file4961245785605Am I doing enough? What does my teen need to learn before he is grown and gone? What have I failed to teach him or her?  Am I doing this parenting thing right? Do you find yourself asking any of these questions?

Have your teen take this simple test!

Once they are done score the total number of assets they feel they have experienced. The research has shown that kids or teens who score between 31-40 Assets are the least likely to engage in Problem Alcohol Use, Illicit Drug Use, Sexual Activity and ViolenceIn addition, they are more likely to Succeed in School, Value Diversity, Maintain Good Health and Delay Gratification.

The 40 developmental assets protect teens from problem attitudes and behavior but also encourages positive attitudes and behaviors!

And what teen couldn’t use a behavior and attitude readjustment every once in a while!?!

What is your teen’s score?  Maybe not as high as you would like it to be? Use this asset list to plan experiences, to guide you as you continue to parent your teens! Use this list as a source of inspiration and confirmation that you are on the right track. Parenting is hard and there is no right or wrong way to do it. This list can give you focus, a goal, or simply peace of mind.

40 Assets for Teens (Check the ones that are true) 

⃝1. I receive high levels of love and support from my family.

⃝2. I can go to my parents or guardians for advice and support and have frequent in-depth conversations with them.

⃝3. I know other non parent adults I can go to for advice and support.

⃝4. My neighbors support and encourage me.

⃝5. My school provides a caring, encouraging environment.

⃝6. My parent(s) are actively involved in helping me succeed in school.

⃝7. I feel valued by the adults in my community.

⃝8. I am given useful roles in my community.

⃝9. I serve in the community one hour or more per week.

⃝10. I feel safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.

⃝11. My family has clear rules and consequences for my behavior and knows my whereabouts.

⃝12. My school provides clear rules and consequences.

⃝13. Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring my behavior.

⃝14. Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.

⃝15. My best friends model responsible behavior.

⃝16. Both parent(s) and teachers encourage me to do well.

⃝17. I spend three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.

⃝18. I spend three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community.

⃝19. I spend one or more hours per week in a religious service or participating in spiritual activities.

⃝20. I go out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.

⃝21. I want to do well in school.

⃝22. I am actively engaged in learning.

⃝23. I am doing at least one hour of homework every school day.

⃝24. I care about my school.

⃝25. I read for pleasure three or more hours per week.

⃝26.  I believe it is really important to help others.

⃝27. I really want to promote equality and reduce hunger and world poverty.

⃝28. I can stand up for what I believe.

⃝29. I tell the truth even when it is not easy.

⃝30. I can accept and take personal responsibility.

⃝31. I believe it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

⃝32. I am good at planning ahead and making decisions.

⃝33. I am good at making friends.

⃝34. I know and am comfortable with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

⃝35. I can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.

⃝36. I can resolve conflict nonviolently.

⃝37. I believe I have control over many things that happen to me.

⃝38. I feel good about myself.

⃝39. I believe my life has a purpose.

⃝40. I am optimistic about my future.

 

 

Check out the Search Institute for a copy of this survey along with many others!

http://www.search-institute.org/

Can Teens Learn Empathy?

EmpathyAuthor, physicist, lecturer and the inspiration behind the movie, “The Theory of Everything”, Stephen Hawking, fears that human aggression may be the tragic flaw that could lead to our demise. When asked which human quality he would most like to magnify, Hawking chose empathy, because “it brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.” Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of others, feel what they feel, and respond in helpful, compassionate ways. We are born with the capacity for empathetic behavior, but whether or not we mature into caring, understanding adults is determined by our experiences. Teens often get a reputation for being self centered, self absorbed, only caring about themselves. But Empathy doesn’t stop developing. We can nurture its growth throughout our lives. Teens are absolutely capable of empathetic behavior and may just be society’s best hope for preventing our demise!

A list of Six Habits of Highly Empathic People was developed by Roman Krznaric, Ph.D., founding faculty member of The School of Life in London and empathy advisor to organizations including Oxfam and the United Nations.  http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_habits_of_highly_empathic_people1

How Can We Use These Habits To Teach Empathy To Teens? 

Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers

Offer opportunities to talk with strangers. When you see strangers in new circumstances, talk to them. Talk to new people in front of your teen. Take your teen to the food pantry, homeless shelter, or different kinds of churches and meet people. Talk with people. Encourage your teen to do the same. When you see people who appear different, talk with your teen about the differences you can see but make the connection to the similarities or the common factors. Encourage observations about people. Encourage them to find the answers. Encourage them to get to know other people, other people in their own school, in their town or in the world.

Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities

Teens tend to be more open minded to differences. Find ways to challenge your own prejudices and encourage your teens open mindedness. Ask about their friends, but also ask about kids they used to know and you haven’t heard about in a long time. Maybe they are in a different social circle than your kid now, but ask and show interest in who they have become. After you have given your teen chances and opportunities to talk with strangers and have new experiences, talk about what they saw and what they felt. Show them the connection to their own lives. Show them that every person they meet in their lives has a story to tell. They have a life that led them down this path. Talk with your teens about their own path and the experiences that have shaped them. Talk with your teen about their own struggles and the struggles of the people they have met. Show them the common factors. The people they have met and talked with become more real to your teen. They now have a name. They have a story. Your teen can begin to truly “know” that person.

Habit 3: Try another person’s life

If we want our teens to “walk in another man’s shoes”, to truly experience someone else’s feelings, to know empathy, we need to give them the opportunities. As often as possible look for volunteer opportunities in your community. When you drop off items at Goodwill, take your teen along to help lift or carry. Have a conversation about how the person unloading with him is learning job skills. Have your teen carry in the box of canned goods to the community food drive. Strike up a conversation with the person collecting the cans. Have a conversation with your teen on the way home about the food drive, who organizes it, who benefits from it and why. Send them on the youth mission trip at your church or at their friend’s church. They may not want to go, but send them anyway. Take a family vacation that includes volunteering time. Or visit the Pack for  Purpose Website http://packforapurpose.org/ when traveling anywhere to find ways your teen can enjoy the family vacation to a warm beach, but also begin to connect with the people of that area and the struggles they may face.

Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up

Listening is not always easy to do when dealing with your teen. Slow down, put your computer or phone down. Stop making dinner. Look them in the eyes and listen. Listen until they are done talking. Really show that you care about whenever the topic is for the day. Expect the same from them. We often allow our teens to half way listen to us, understandable when we are barking orders or placing demands, but if we want teens to understand empathy, they must also learn to be good listeners. Have them put their phones down during dinner, or in the car. Tell them, ‘hey, we only have five minutes together today, while I run you to your friends put your phone down and have a conversation with me”. Ask them to give you an opinion on something. Run something by them, talk through a dilemma you had that day. Try to open up and share your feelings about something to show them that they can be a mutual, equal partner in conversation.

Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change

This habit is fascinating when thought about in terms of how teens will impact the world someday. Teens are the first generation to have grown up with technology as a part of their everyday world. We talk often about putting phones down, turning off the computer, limiting, restricting and creating fear around social media and its impact on teens today. But what if we inspire teens to use the power of social media in new and different ways? What if we help them see the impact of a great social media campaign. What if we show teens that not only do they have a voice in their everyday lives, but they have a voice on a global level? Be willing to talk with your teen about the ways social media can be used for empathic causes. If you are taking a vacation and using Pack for A Purpose, have your teen share their experience on social media. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter, encourage your teen to share the experience so that their friends also gain some benefit. Show them mass media campaigns such as #likeagirl  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs) and the possibilities of a message they care about being that easy to share. Teens have the potential to inspire action and change! Support their causes and ideas and show them the voice they have in this high tech world!

Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination

This habit of Highly Empathic People is described as not only having an ability to walk in the shoes of those suffering or those far away in remote parts of the world, but walking with our everyday enemies! If your teen daughter has an enemy at school, another kid she just can’t seem to stand or there has been hurt feelings over the years, teach her to think creatively about this enemy. Teach her to understand her enemy’s opinions. Encourage her to think about how the conflict felt to the other person. We must understand our enemies in order to find a resolution. Teens need to understand that empathy, being kind and compassionate and walking in another’s shoes, is not limited to those they choose. They must be willing to work toward understanding with all others. Sometimes finding empathy for those closest to us; moms, dads, friends, neighbors, is the hardest search of all.

Teens are passionate and emotional and are in the perfect position to learn and practice empathy!

http://news.yahoo.com/stephen-hawking-fears-human-aggression-could–destroy-us-all—calls-for-more-empathy-172950453.html

What Happened To Motivation?

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Is your teen a lazy slug who seems to have absolutely no motivation to do anything productive? Are they perfectly capable of being exciting and fun with friends, but seem to have no energy for school or family? How can you motivate him? How can you teach him to motivate himself?
Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is studying for a test or doing the dishes. The term motivation is used to describe why a person does something. But when talking about teens, it often describes why your teenager doesn’t do something!

 To better understand how to help your teen find his missing motivation, break it down into smaller parts. There are three major pieces to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity.

  • Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior. This could be your teen actually opening his text book with the intention to study for the test.
  • Persistence is the continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles might popup. So not only does your teen open the book to study, but he also sticks with it for an extended period of time.
  • Intensity is the concentration or effort that goes into completing the goal. Some teens may eagerly study, calling friends, hosting a study group; others may simply read the chapter and hope it sticks in their brain. What level of effort or intensity is required for the task?

Where does your teen fall short in the three smaller parts of motivation? Does he not do any of the steps? Maybe he activates his plan and might even look like he has some persistence, but has no intensity at all? Talk to your teen about what he does do really well. Tell him he is great about activating the plan to study. Let him know you see his persistence. Tell him he does a great job on wanting to study for the test. But then help him see he falls short on the energy level. Encourage him to put in more effort on writing note cards or studying with a friend, or even quizzing you on the material.

Maybe your teen has a good plan and good energy, but no persistence. Maybe he has amazing intentions, but is easily distracted and moving on to a million different tasks while “studying”.

Maybe your teen just can’t activate the plan, but once he does he can persist with intensity! Help him to see that while he has very little desire to activate a plan, once he does, he is unstoppable!

We can also break motivation down into two different categories; intrinsic and extrinsic, or internal and external. We know that a person can be motivated internally and do something because it is rewarding to that person; they feel proud, accomplished, or happy. People can also be motivated by external means. This is generally a reward for doing something or a consequence for not doing something.

Teens are motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic. Ideally they operate on feeling good about themselves and accomplished in their task, but if they don’t have that capacity for a certain task, or seemingly at all, it is completely fair to provide extrinsic motivation. After all, we are all motivated by extrinsic motivation. We get a pay check for showing up to work. We get fired if we don’t show up to work. External motivation is everywhere in adult life. So find the reward or consequence that will get their attention. Ideally though, help them find intrinsic rewards too. By seeing motivation as three distinct parts, Activation, Persistence and Intensity, your teen has a better chance of seeing their own strengths and using those to find success. If they “have no motivation” and they act and feel “lazy”, their chances of tapping into intrinsic feelings are much lower. That is eliminating 50% of their motivation before they even begin to attempt to study for that test or complete the task at hand. Allow them to feel proud. Allow them to know the feeling of really working hard for something and knowing they did it!

Have fun experimenting with the concepts of Activation, Persistence, and Intensity with your teen! While you are figuring out your teen’s style keep these final conclusions in mind.

  • Research has shown us that when a person is rewarded for doing a good job, they will come to expect that reward every time and it will dampen the intrinsic reward of feeling proud. If your teen gets a Starbucks gift card for every “A” on a test, they will learn to look for the external reward in all things they do and will miss out on intrinsic rewards as they move into adulthood. Don’t reward, but praise and acknowledge the accomplishment.
  • Along that same line, we know that praise and positive feedback are excellent ways to increase intrinsic motivation. Find ways to praise your teen and give them positive comments about how they studied for that test as a way to increase their positive feelings and increase their motivation to get that praise again. Reinforce that the praise feels good.
  • However…..the research also supports that if a teen is praised constantly, or when it is unearned, it will significantly reduce intrinsic motivation. It will only decrease his motivation!! So, don’t praise for an “A” that they got by pure dumb luck, but do praise them for the C+ they got on in Calculus because you know they worked really hard all semester!

 

 

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References

Plotnik, R. & Kouyoumjian. H. (2011). Introduction to psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stop Keeping Your Teen Safe!

When keeping them safe needs to become keeping themselves safe.   

DSCN8976When they were sweet and little, your job was to protect your kids and keep them safe. You used to put plastic protectors in sockets,  hold their hand in a parking lot, test their food to see if it had cooled enough, stayed away from dangerous areas like thin ice, or walked them to the door of their friend’s house for a play date. And now that sweet baby is a gangly teenager! Short of locking them in the house, without access to social media and its inherent risks, it is an impossible job for you to manage anymore. Keeping little kids safe is a reasonable task because you can control their environment. Teens have their own environment, they leave yours often and they are exploring further and further into the world in new and exciting ways. And you cannot control their world.

The solution is simple. They must learn to keep themselves safe. The path to get there is not quite so simple. Teens need to start making their own decision, making mistakes they can learn from and start learning how to assess their own safety.

Instead of you asking all of these questions, you need your teen to intuitively ask themselves these questions. “Is this person’s house a safe place to be right now? Am I comfortable without parents being home right now? Would my parents say this is against the rules or not a good idea? Should I leave? There is alcohol here and I need to get out of here. My friends all want to walk to Starbucks but it is dangerously cold. My friend’s dad seems drunk; I’m not taking a ride home from him tonight”.

These are the decisions that we can’t protect our kids from after a certain age. These are the decisions we need them to make for themselves. There are two ways to make this happen. One is to teach them how to assess for safety. Teach them what you have been looking for all these years. Teach them the questions that you have asked yourself all these years, teach them to observe behaviors and to ask the right questions of the right people. The second task to making sure your teen can keep him or herself safe is to make sure to have clear freedoms earned when they do and clear consequences when they don’t. When they make good decisions to keep themselves safe, they can go out into the world again with more freedom. When they make a decision that puts them in danger, or is not a safe decision, they need a consequence. Show them the positives of making safe choices and the negatives of not safe decisions though creative consequences. Ultimately, the world offers consequences every day. Speeding tickets, loss of jobs, conflict with family and friends, and unfortunately much worse; divorce, death, or living with knowing you caused another person’s death or pain. Give them consequences now, even if they make it miserable for everyone else around them, so they never have to feel a real world consequence.

Start talking to your teen today about what your process is in making a decision rather than the final decision. They need to learn to make the final decision, but often don’t have a clue what led you to that decision. If they don’t have that information, they are going to assume you are a helicopter mom or dad who can’t let go. They are going to accuse you of hovering. Instead of “wear gloves today”, how about, “oh hey, check the temperature on the thermometer before you head out”. If they check it or not, it’s a safe bet the first time they won’t wear gloves. Ok, so there is a great consequence built right in. They are going to freeze. But next time you suggest checking the temp, they may just check. Or instead of “I’m going to call your buddy’s mom to be sure his she is going to be home Friday night”, how about, “Remember our family requires a parent to be home wherever you are going to be hanging out, so you will either have to ask your buddy that question by phone or text before Friday, or you will have to call me for a ride home that night if you get there and a parent is not home. Your choice, but I think asking ahead of time might save you some embarrassment”.

Are you stuck protecting your teen instead of teaching him to protect himself?  Are you feeling overwhelmed or out of control? Want more ideas for instilling good decision making in your teen? Write a comment here and get ideas and support from other parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can My Teen Go From Helpless to Hostile So Quickly?

file0001923473728Does your teen seem to vacillate between pathetic helplessness and outright hostility? Can he change his mood in a second? Are you accused of doing too much for him one minute and not enough the next?

We have discovered that mood swings in teens is an actual biological limitation. Teens are still learning to control emotions at this age. Brain imaging is showing us that a thickening in gray matter on the outer part of the brain is done growing during the early teen years. But during the late teen years, the brain actually trims back excess cells to make itself more efficient. Because their brain is so developed and so newly formed they are capable of intense passion, strong emotions and incredible capacity to feel feelings. But what they are still working on is the ability to control the intensity of these emotions. The connections are not all working. The connections are still new and not stable.

So there is a reason they drive you crazy with the mood swings! It is important to remember that the mood swings are confusing to them too! During those moments when they know everything, when you are the world’s biggest moron, it’s important to remind yourself that they do not have full capacity to deal with emotions. You do! Take a deep breath and model mood control. Speak kindly and do not match their level of frustration or annoyance. Set clear limits on how to talk to each other in your family. Set behavioral expectations. Give consequences for hostile behavior. But know that hostility is not powerful or satisfying to your teen.  They feel out of control and do not know how to deal with their feelings, so they lash out in anger. An eye roll or smart comment is not an act of rebellion or hatred but an act of brain connections not fully functioning.  They are learning to identify and control the intense emotions of anxious, stressed, sad and exhausted during these situations.

Sometimes the other extreme of inability to control mood looks like a helpless toddler. Remember that your teen may be experiencing crazy intense emotions right now. He has the brain power to feel passionately about things, people, music, politics, school, etc. But he does not have the capacity to control or calm down all of those feelings. Imagine what that would be like to be flooded constantly with intense happy, intense sad, intense mad; without the ability to control those emotions!  He needs a break once in a while. He needs down time. He needs a little reassurance that you’ve got this when he can’t.

When you see him struggling with mood control, check the basics. These three life skills can have a powerful impact on mood control;

EAT, SLEEP, EXERCISE.

Tweaking any or all of these will help your teen better manage his mood!

Is he eating breakfast? Is he fueling his body? What can he do better?

Is he getting enough sleep? Is he sleeping 9 hours a night? Get more sleep!

Is he moving his body every day? Is he getting exercise that is fun and that he enjoys?

Your teen may not thank you for nagging him about breakfast, denying him another late night activity this week, or forcing a one on one game of basketball with his dad before he can go out with friends, but it is exactly what he needs!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clueless or Cool?

textSnap chats, tweets, Kik, Instagram, Tumblr … Are you terrified of the influence social media will have on your kids? Are you constantly trying to stay one step ahead of your teen on managing social media in your home?  Are you tired of spying, monitoring, watching, and fearing the dangers? Why not use social media as a way to connect with your teen?   Why not embrace it rather than fight it all the time?

We can show you how to have a little fun with texting and teens but first you absolutely must agree to one simple rule! When interacting with your teen in their social world, whether it is in front of real live friends or in their on-line world, Do. Not. Embarrass. Them! That rule will be the one constant from the good old days through the digital days! If you are unsure of your embarrassment line, stick with texting one on one. You to them. Never you to their whole entire social world. Ok? Ready…

Send them inspirational text messages. Have a great day! Happy World Smile Day! You are Awesome! Or more specific, well-timed messages, Good Luck on the Math test, you’ve got this!

Send funny pictures. Model healthy, appropriate picture sharing. Show them that a picture of their dad in his dorky coat can be funny without being mean. Or a photo of what you are doing at certain moments of your day can help them understand what you do on a daily basis.

Challenge them to trivia game, quiz game or a drawing game.

Send them codes or challenging texts to decipher.

Learn to use emoticons and have some fun!

By keeping most of your media contacts with your teen fun, witty, inspiring, goofy, and unexpected, you will have a connection. The two of you will have a relationship. As an added bonus they will be so used to including you in their everyday social connections, they just may answer your texts when you really need them to. A text or contact from you will not feel like an outsider intruding into their world. Make your online connection to your teen more about knowing each other rather than keeping track of each other.

How do you use social media to connect with your teen?

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Moody, Impulsive, Maddening! The Teenage Brain!

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What is he thinking?? Is he using his brain? How can someone so smart, make such horrible decisions? Have you ever asked yourself one these questions?

Here’s a peek into the developing brain of your teenager!

Understanding your teen’s brain development will help you better understand his decisions, thoughts and behaviors.  In teens, the parts of the brain involved in emotional responses may actually be heightened. They are able to “feel” passionately; about music, politics, families, school, friends. But keeping this passionate ability to “feel” in check or manageable is a secondary brain development process. It comes later and is more complex. Because teens feel so passionately but don’t have total brain development to manage those feelings, we see more unpredictable or extreme emotions which can lead to more impulsive behaviors.   These feelings are so intense; much like when they were two years old and having a temper tantrum because they didn’t have the words or communication skills to tell us what was wrong.  Teens emotional adjustment, or advanced brain development can come with extreme anger, excessive worrying, dramatic mood changes, or crying easily.  They are working on advanced brain development! The moods, the snarky comments, the behaviors and the attitudes really are a part of a teen’s brain development!

Here is what is going on in his brain according to the National Institute of Mental Health:

He is learning how to use many parts of his brain together. Connections between different parts of the brain increase throughout childhood and well into adulthood. As the brain develops, the fibers connecting nerve cells are wrapped in a protein that greatly increases the speed with which they can transmit impulses from cell to cell. The resulting increase in connectivity—a little like providing a growing city with a fast, integrated communication system—shapes how well different parts of the brain work in tandem. Research is finding that the extent of connectivity is related to growth in intellectual capacities such as memory and reading ability.

Emotional responses are heightened. Several lines of evidence suggest that the brain circuitry involved in emotional responses is changing during the teen years. Functional brain imaging studies, for example, suggest that the responses of teens to emotionally loaded images and situations are heightened relative to younger children and adults. The brain changes underlying these patterns involve brain centers and signaling molecules that are part of the reward system with which the brain motivates behavior. These age-related changes shape how much different parts of the brain are activated in response to experience, and in terms of behavior, the urgency and intensity of emotional reactions.

The dreaded hormonal changes are not a myth. Enormous hormonal changes take place during adolescence. Reproductive hormones shape not only sex-related growth and behavior, but overall social behavior. Hormone systems involved in the brain’s response to stress are also changing during the teens. As with reproductive hormones, stress hormones can have complex effects on the brain, and as a result, behavior.

What? He might be smarter than you already? In terms of sheer intellectual power, the brain of an adolescent is a match for an adult’s. The capacity of a person to learn will never be greater than during adolescence. At the same time, behavioral tests, sometimes combined with functional brain imaging, suggest differences in how adolescents and adults carry out mental tasks. Adolescents and adults seem to engage different parts of the brain to different extents during tests requiring calculation and impulse control, or in reaction to emotional content.

Sleep, Sleep Sleep! Research suggests that adolescence brings with it brain-based changes in the regulation of sleep that may contribute to teens’ tendency to stay up late at night. Along with the obvious effects of sleep deprivation, such as fatigue and difficulty maintaining attention, inadequate sleep is a powerful contributor to irritability and depression. Studies of children and adolescents have found that sleep deprivation can increase impulsive behavior; some researchers report finding that it is a factor in delinquency. Adequate sleep is central to physical and emotional health.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov

NIH Publication No. 11-4929
2011

 

 

What Kind Of Man Will Your Teenager Grow Up To Be?

file000389175494A recent article published on The Good Man Project Website inspires us to ask our sons, “What kind of man do you want to be”?

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/one-question-will-change-your-sons-life-kerj/

Have you asked your teenage son this question? Do you know what kind of man you expect him to be? Does he know he has a responsibility to ask himself that question and live in a way that leads him to that answer? Have you showed him the road map to getting that answer?

Ask him the question. Sometimes an easy, soft start to that question is, what do you want your life to look like? He might be able to dream about unlimited video game playing, a cool car, a job that doesn’t start until noon everyday and pays a million dollars a year. Go with those answers! They are a great starting point. Listen carefully to those answers. Be open to helping him slowly work toward that reality. He will gain maturity and insight as he grows. He will be more and more able to put reality into his answer. You can keep asking and supporting any thought and emotion he puts into his answer.

Point out his existing role models, the real life ones; his father, his uncles, the next door neighbor, a teacher, a relative, etc. The positive role models are an ideal to set a bar high for your son and to encourage him to reach for those values. But negative role models can be learned from as well. Talk about the uncle who has always struggled with addiction or anger and how his road to being a good man was challenged. Point out what that uncle was like as a boy, what he was like as a teen and what you miss about him now or what you wish he would do differently.

Use role models in the community or in the media. Point out the ones that are doing powerful, amazing work that means something to you. Find out what matters to your son and build from there. If he seems to only care about skateboarding, find a role model that is using skateboarding to make a statement or make a connection to the world. Be a part of his world in terms of music he likes, movie actors he is drawn too, even the women he finds attractive. Point out the values you see and ask him his opinions on people in the media or in his community. Help him see his future depends on the kind of man he strives to be. And his choices begin now.

Growing from a boy to a man is a long journey and is complicated by society’s expectations and social pressures to be cool, to be strong, and to be tough. Giving your son a safe place to challenge those expectations and someone willing to listen and talk through those expectations is the best way to get him started on mapping his own road to manhood.

The biggest challenge for parents is to resist the urge to draw the map to adulthood for your teenage son yourself. You must help him know that the journey has many choices along the way, but it is his journey. He needs to take a few wrong turns, try a few detours, and maybe even stop in the middle of the road for a while. Resist the urge to jump in and take over. Trust that your son is refueling, taking in the sights, mustering up the courage to continue. And trust that the man he intends to be is more amazing than you could have ever imagined.