Why does my teen act without thinking?

The teenage years are some of the most important, most influential years in a person’s life. Coincidentally, parents often see their teens act rashly without thinking, not understanding their bad decision-making is biological. During adolescence, the teenage brain is only 80 percent developed and therefore incredibly susceptible to peer-pressure, risky behavior and less likely to make mature decisions. TeenSafe demonstrates the biological reasoning behind teen actions and why communication is key in achieving a healthy relationship between parent and child.

“As parents, we must remember that along with the rush of hormones during puberty, teenage brains are also experiencing major changes. Their brains are not even fully developed until 25 years old,” said Ameeta Jain, Cofounder. “The areas of their brain controlling judgment, rational thinking, and self-control are underdeveloped and parents should be aware of this to better understand and find a common ground with their children. The hurdles of teenage years are not easy and they need a parent’s love and guidance as they work through difficult situations.”

What’s the science behind it? During teenage adolescence, the prefrontal cortex is poorly balanced with the remaining emotional part of the brain, leading to irrational behavior and vulnerability to peer-pressure. The underdeveloped frontal region of the brain also contributes to the inability to rationalize emotional responses and read adult facial expressions. This can lead to miscommunication and misrepresentation.

Dr. Darcia Narvaez is a Professor of Psychology at Notre Dame and an author of many acclaimed books. She said, “Kids go to these environments that you can’t control, and they’ll be tempted to do things because their prefrontal cortex isn’t well developed,” Dr. Narvaez explained. “They’ll make bad choices even if you’ve given them the best parenting in the world.  For that reason, you need to monitor.” As an advocate of parental monitoring software <www.teensafe.com/> , Narvaez still advises that parents be very open with their kids about whatever monitoring they decide to do.

What to do: Parents must recognize that maturity is highly influence by biological factors. Regardless of how mature their child may seem, teenagers do not have the understanding of risks and repercussions as adults do. To ensure their teen is acting responsible, and miscommunication is less likely to occur, parents should keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep the lines of communication open
  • Offer support and advice without judgment
  • Stay involved in their lives and know who they’re talking to
  • Set healthy boundaries and clear expectations

Open and honest communication is necessary between parent and child, particularly in the years of teenage adolescence. Especially in an age where decision making is not at the optimal level and technology use is rampant, it is highly suggested to keep an observant eye on the teen using a monitoring solution.

TeenSafe has developed a system that allows parents the ability to see their child’s smartphone and online activity in order to help them through some of the difficult challenges technology can potentially bring. For more resources and parenting tips, go to Teenology <www.teensafe.com/blog/>.