Learn why teens earn the reputation of being hormonal and impulsive, and how you can make fair rules to guide them through this turbulent time.
By: Gregory Germain, MD
As the parent of a teen, if you have the feeling that you’re starring in the cult classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you are not alone. Parents of teens often feel like they are on a wild ride for several years: Kids’ hormones are raging, they’re asserting their independence, and, as reams of research has shown, their brains are still changing and developing. Studies suggest that teens process emotional information differently than adults and use different parts of their brains to do so. So it’s not your imagination: A teenager is, indeed, a different animal.
Responsible but Impulsive
On the brink of adulthood, teens may be responsible enough to hold down a job, learn to drive, and begin dating. But at this crossroad in their life, teens are also impulsive, sometimes jumping into situations that may not be good for them.
Many teens have a sense of invulnerability—the feeling that it “won’t happen to me.” They also tend to reject parental values and standards and rely instead on peer standards, which can mean pushing the limits in terms of sexuality, smoking and drug and alcohol use.
Making Rules & Setting Expectations
You (and your child) will surely come out healthy and happy on the less tumultuous side of the turbulent teen years if, as a parent, you:
- Communicate—talk candidly as often as you can
- Know your child’s friends
- Eat dinner together
- Plan “dates"—spend time together, just the two of you, doing the things your teen loves
- Keep a sense of humor!
The teen years, while they only cover five years, are vastly wide-ranging. By the time teens get into their sophomore and junior years of high school, they usually they begin to see the cause and effect between their actions and future consequences for their lives. Most older teens will start to take responsibilities for their future and will eventually appreciate your guidance and words of wisdom along the way.