We never truly see our kids as being anything else, but by the time they’re getting ready to head to college, there’s at least an intellectual awareness that they’re becoming adults…
Or are they?
Despite everything teens have accomplished by the time they’ve finished High School, their brains aren’t done growing – and they won’t be done developing for another seven years. It takes an amazing amount of time for the human brain to actually finish growing and developing, and that’s something we have to keep in mind while raising our children.
Fortunately, once we recognize that they’re still developing, we can start to plan around that. Here are a few tips for dealing with teens that have growing brains.
- Be Careful About Expectations: When teens do something correctly, we expect them to do that in the future – and, in general, to handle many cases “as adults”. Unfortunately, they’re not adults, and their brains literally haven’t developed enough to let them fully understand the consequences of their behavior.
- Understand Their Emotions: Teens’ brains aren’t very good at moderating social behavior, so they tend to over-react to things that, well, honestly aren’t that important. It’s crucial to understand that they may not always mean what they say – and that any suggestion of negativity can be taken more seriously than it’s meant to be, too. (“Gasp, my mom doesn’t think this shirt looks good on me! She doesn’t trust my fashion sense and thinks I’m incapable of making good decisions! She’s treating me like a child!”)
- Keep An Eye On Them: Since we can’t trust teens to make good decisions – and this isn’t their fault, but simple biological reality – we have to protect them until they’ve learned enough to protect themselves. The best way to do this is to keep an eye on their behavior, including their online behavior now that social networks have become such an important part of their lives.
Raising teens isn’t easy, and their brains won’t be finished developing until around the time they’re done with college. Don’t try to rush them into being adults – instead, just focus on giving them the love and support they need to finish developing into healthy, happy, and responsible adults.