Teenage Mutant Ninja Brain: True or False

For the following statements, record your responses as either true or false. At the bottom of the post are the answers and discussions. COWABUNGA DUDE!

1.) My teen hates me and is making an effort to be stubborn or difficult.
2.) As long as he's under my roof, my teen should never be done doing drugs and alcohol!
3.) Friends are the most important thing to my teen.
4.) Friendship and socializing are important for my teen's development.
5.) Some parts of the teen brain are decreasing in size.
6.) My teen's brain is not fully developed.
7.) Teens are similar to rats and monkeys.
8.) My teen acts out a lot, makes a lot, and gets angry a lot often over insignificant issues. She must have a psychological disorder.
9.) My teen is mature enough to make responsible decisions on his own.
10.) My teenager should be able to manage her time, plan events, and prioritize by now.
11.) There's no excuse for forgetfulness when you are a teen.
12.) Given the right parenting, teens should be able to identify and resist negative peer pressure.
13.) Because my teen has clear goals and is smart, he will be more concerned with completing tasks needed to follow his goals than reward and sensation seeking.
14.) In a teens mind, social approval is more important than making the responsible choice.
15.) After childhood, the potential for the brain to grow and change starts to disappear.
16.) Pruning of neural connections in the brain will make my teen dumber.
17.) The hobbies and extra-curricular activities my teen engages in will help shape her future.

1.) My teen hates me and is making an effort to be stubborn and difficult.
False. There are a few reasons teens act out and behaving as if they do not love or appreciate their parents. One is a desire to establish autonomy. Autonomy is actually a developmental skill that teens have to practice so that they can become independent adults. This does mean that they will disagree with you on subjects where you are clearly right! Do not spend too much energy fighting your teen in these situations because they are not concerned about who right or wrong as much as they are with which calling the shots.

Another reason teens are so volatile towards their parents involves physiological influences. For one, teens have what everyone calls "raging hormones" and are reaching their peak in estrogen and testosterone production, but it's more than that. Blood pressure in teens is significantly higher on average than children or adults. Therefore, they really are AMPED most of the time. Furthermore, teens produce more of the stress-related hormone corticosterone making them more responsive to stress than is often suitable for the situation. This is why one wrong word or a funny look or someone wearing the same shirt can turn into an utter melt down if you are a teen. And WATCH OUT Mom and Dad if "YOU DO NOT GET IT!" And it's very plausible you will not because teens do not make sense.

2.) As long as he's under my roof, my teen should never be done doing drugs and alcohol!
False. What what what ??? !!!!! Researchers have shown that teens who experiment a moderate amount with drugs and alcohol are better socially adjusted and responsible adults than teens who engaged in zero or extreme amounts of experimentation. With that said, 50% of teens experiment with drugs and alcohol, and most turn out alright. So relax, Mom and Dad. It's gonna be okay.

HOWEVER, it is important to define what moderate experimentation means. Moderate experimentation does not mean substance use once a week or even a couple times a month. These amounts would be too consistent to be considered moderate or even experimental. That is when it becomes habitual. There is research to show that habitual substance use can be detrimental to your teen's brain development. Neurologists have shown that the brain is going through a pruning stage during the teen years where neural connections that are not used are weened and those that are used are strengthened. Some neurologists call this the "use it or lose it" stage. So, if your teen is spending his or her weekends smoking J's and getting wasted with friends, this is when you want to get a little concerned. This precious time being spent killing brain cells could have better used strengthening the connections that have developed earlier in childhood by engaging in healthy activities like sports, music, or chess club. It's better not to exacerbate a pruning process that is doing a fine job on its own.

3.) Friends are the most important thing to my teen.
False. I know it may seem like the most important thing in every teen's life is their friends, especially when they are always prioritized above school and family, but this is not true. Teens still love their family and want what is best for themselves and their loved ones. What is true is that teens do not know how to act on their appreciation for things that are not social because the most active part of their brains right now is well … the social part. Just be patient and accept your teen's need for social interaction because one day you will be number one on her list.

4.) Friendship and socializing are important for my teen's development.
True.

5.) There's no excuse for forgetfulness when you are a teen.
False.

6.) My teen's brain is not fully developed.
True.

7.) Some parts of the teen brain are decreasing in size.
True. The frontal cortex decreases in size as neural connections that are not used are pruned away. This allows people to start specializing in certain skills and becoming masters of their trade. Without pruning our brains would not work as efficiently.

8.) My teen acts out a lot, makes a lot, and gets angry a lot often over insignificant issues. She must have a psychological disorder.
False. Your child does not have a psychological disorder. Excessive upsets such as angry outbursts and crying spells are normal teen experiences. They are results of being a human that is being thrust into a scarey world and expected to make adult decisions and take on responsibilities that this human does not have the physiological resources to successfully perform. The teen becomes aware of so many things that he or she can not properly process or understand and this becomes very overwhelming. When you add all of this confusion with increased hormones and blood pressure you get one very frazzled person.

9.) My teen is mature enough to make responsible decisions on his own.
False. The frontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for decision making, planning, organizing, emotion processing, and rule learning. This part of the brain is not fully developed in your teen! That explains a lot does not it !!! What's worse is that your teens neurons are arranged with dopamine (associated with reward and pleasure) and is producing less GABA (the inhibitory neurotransmitter). This results in a brain that is more concerned with pleasure and reward seeking than anything else. This means that when your teen makes a decision on his own it will likely be in favor of the more rewarding choice even if that choice is an unhealthy one with a long term negative consequence. Teens are concerned with instant gratification and have not developed the skill of being able to delay gratification. That is why making the correct choice, which may have a delayed reward, is not always the one chosen. Furthermore, belonging in a social group is a priority for a teen because the social centers of his higher brain faculties are the most developed at this time. Thus, decisions made will most likely be the more socially favorable ones, and that often involves giving into peer pressure. The moral of the story here is that parents need to do two things. They must monitor where their teens are at all times and with what and make sure there is a responsible adult in charge. They must also help their teens learn how to choose friends that are good effects so that when peer pressure is given into, it will not have such devastating results. Teens are often a direct reflection of the group they belong to, so this is why it may be especially important to encourage your teen to get involved in healthy extra-curricular activities.

10.) My teenager should be able to manage her time, plan events, and prioritize by now.
False.

11.) Teens are similar to rats and monkeys.
True. Similar brain structure, similar responses to stressors.

12.) Given the right parenting, teens should be able to identify and resist negative peer pressure. False.

13.) Because my teen has clear goals and is smart, he will be more concerned with completing tasks needed to follow his goals than reward and sensation seeking.
False. If your teen falls into the wrong crowd, you may be kissing those goals goodbye.

14.) In a teens mind, social approval is more important than making the responsible choice.
True.

15.) After childhood, the potential for the brain to grow and change starts to disappear.
False. Researchers have shown that the brain has an amazing plasticity and that we can grow and strengthen neural connections long into adulthood. (It just may not be as easy as it was in childhood.)

16.) The loss of neural connections in the frontal cortex of the brain will make my teen smarter and more skilled.
True.

17.) The hobbies and extra-curricular activities my teen engages in will help shape her future.
True. These activities will strengthen valuable neural connections that will lead to a specialization in a field. Your teen will start to realize what he or she is good at and will capitalize on this talent. As regards the social component to this involvement, it will teach your teen how to form and maintain healthy and constructive relationships.

Your teen's brain really is a ninja, karate chopping down unnecessary connections and building stronger ones and it's a bit of a mutant as it does not function properly at all! I hope this post has given you some insight into why your teen is such an ungodly monster.

Source by Wendy M See

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