Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's true: Your teen isn't listening to you

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is that you have this person in your life that you are completely responsible for, but you can't actually control. Yes, you can influence, encourage, support and punish this person. But, in the end, they are a separate individual from you and going to do things their own way and you just have to take a back seat and deal with it (preferably without losing your temper).

My son is only four. (I put the "only" in there as a constant reminder to myself to not ask too much of him.) And, like most little children his age, he has a listening problem. Actually, that's not accurate: He hears everything I say. He has a "following directions" problem. So, when I tell him to do something, he hears me, but he still thinks he has the option of choosing to not follow through on directions without there being consequences.

But, I expect that from his age. And this is great practice for me for when he becomes a teenager and his brain shuts down at the sound of my voice.

Researchers scanned some teens' brains as they listened to their mother's criticism, and they found that for a period afterward the area of the brain relegated to negative emotions increased, and the areas of the brain devoted to emotional control and social processing decreased. So, teens are listening, but they are unable to think of their parents point of view.

Is this true of all teens? Admittedly, no. The researchers need to have more controls in place around their subjects and the way conflicts are generally settled in their homes to make sure there isn't an element of bias in place before those brain scans began.

But, overall, this explains a lot, doesn't it? (Thanks science!)

We were all brats as teenagers. (That's why I apologize to my Mom so frequently.) What apology do you owe your mother?

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