Your teenager is going through a critical period of development. They are discovering how they fit into the world and who they want to be in the now, as well as in the future. At this time, your child’s brain is having a major growth spurt, one similar to that of infancy. They are beginning to think abstractly and to have complex reasoning due to cognitive development. With abstract thinking comes questions of purpose, path, spirituality, and challenges in society. Your teen is also developing decision-making skills. Employing teen counseling services is a respectable, and healthy way to help guide their development further, and assist in understanding the various choices and decisions that will come to them.
Your Teen’s Development And The Importance Of Teen Counseling
However, during this stage, decisions are majority influenced by emotions, processed by the limbic system rather than the prefrontal cortex, the place of high order thought and impulse control, that is fully developed around age 25. Because of this, teens operate on an immature mentality. Functioning on emotions becomes tricky for teenagers as they are barely becoming acquainted with new and intense feelings that emerge with hormonal changes. Teens commonly experience rage, fear, sexual attraction, jealousy, and enthusiasm, perhaps several times a day. And yet with all the new experiences, they tend to misinterpret and misread the emotions of others (or their own), resulting in tantrums or conflict.
When in an immature mindset, decisions may not be thought out logically either. So, teens may act impulsively as they misunderstand emotions, putting themselves in danger or in regrettable situations. And because a teen is just learning to discern what is socially unacceptable or hurtful to others, and because their brain does not fully comprehend social cues, there are hardly any checkpoints in the mind to make them consider the consequences before they act out. The brain of a teenager also seeks reward. Experiences that set off dopamine in a teen’s brain, like trying drugs and alcohol, stealing, or having sex, activates their pleasure system, leaving them wanting more of that high from risky activities.
Anxiety about the Future
As you can gather, it is an overwhelming time for your teen. Not only are their brain, body, and hormones changing, they are pressured to become independent. In this transition from child to adult, teens begin to develop their own personality and identity based on their own values and beliefs. They are confronted with their goals for the future, sexuality, commitment, political preference, the role of relationships, the importance of hobbies, and the question of what type of person they want to be in society.
In spite of all the overactivity and processing happening, teens have underdeveloped abilities to cope. That is why it is a crucial time for them to have support. To help, find ways to genuinely connect with your teen. This can look like active listening, having honest and transparent heart-to-heart conversations, being their cheerleader for interests, getting involved with their school, helping with their college applications, mapping out career goals, recommending teen group therapy, having dates, and joining family therapy. For more information on teen group therapy, call Insight Treatment at (888) 295-9995.