Teens do stupid things. This is why:
My teenager is nuts! Honestly, I’m really fortunate. I have a fantastic teenager. But I still get lots of melodramatic teenage craziness, it just appears about differently. Most girls her age obsess over hair or clothes, she couldn’t be bothered with these things. Her obsession is over her grades and school.
I’ll take it! It’s not a terrible obsession to have. But how do I make her realize that a B+ on an exam is not the end of the world! She’s had straight A’s since sixth grade. An unbelievable accomplishment that I will forever admire and be proud of. But she’s she goes to extremes at times, she received an A- in AP Chemistry and got herself a tutor.
When I’m dealing with another teenage melt-down, I try to remind myself, “It’s not her fault she’s crazy, it’s her teenage excitability neurotransmitters.”
Neurotransmitter are brain hormones. They carry messages from neuron to neuron. They control all body functions, movement, emotions, pain and pleasure.
Teen brains are very different than adult brains. Teens have many more neurotransmitters than adults. (Because they have more synapses than adults. These synapses are pruned down Synapse xt as the brain continues to develop.)
Teens’ high levels of neurotransmitters (and synapses) provide the ability to learn more quickly than adults, however these high levels of neurotransmitters are also what makes teenagers crazy. Because of them teens are more prone to feeling stress than adult.
Most teens can rationalize as well as adults when they are calm. However, when you increase stress, they easily become overwhelmed and prone to emotional outburst. The human body reacts to emotional stress the same way it responds to physical danger. So for a teen they are experiencing a feeling of danger, magnified.
So the next time your teenager is acting like that pimple is the end of the world. Try to sympathize. Imagine how you would feel physically and emotionally if it WAS the end of the world. That’s what your teenager’s brain and body is feeling. For them it truly does FEEL like it’s the end of the world.
A few facts about those crazy teenage brains –
Teen brains are controlled by the amygdala. The amygdala is responsibility for fear, aggression and instinctive behavior. (This is why they do stupid things, acting without thinking!)
Teens do NOT have a fully developed prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for reasoning, planning, judgement and understanding consequences. (This is why teens feel invincible!)
Teens have a well developed nucleus accumbens. This is the “pleasure center” of the brain; the part that seeks out pleasure and reward.
Because teenagers have so many more synapses than adults, their emotions are felt with more intensity than an adult would feel them. (Can you remember your first love and the intensity you felt? Most of us were sure it would last forever.)
With their brain structure the way it is you might understand why teens engage in risk taking and are more susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction. They are instinctively seeking pleasure from a thrill, while feeling invincible and not understanding consequences.