We all want to raise intelligent, healthy off spring who would one day leave the nest and raise children of their own. It is definitely a handful when you think about it, especially if you don’t know the fundamental forces behind controlling and regulating a teenager’s abhorrent behavior.
Nature vs Nurture
When we deal with something as fragile as the teenage psyche, we must take all variables into careful, well thought out consideration. Here is raised which has riddled psychologists ever since the beginning of the 20th century: Nature vs Nurture. When we raise our kids we are assuming that we are practically 100% responsible for their growth and development.
The truth is that there is not one universal truth behind this statement. Different children react differently to different stimuli. Predicting the outcome of such a complicated equation is the same as predicting the direction of where the wind blows 15 years from now. The same goes with children, although we could say influence them to hold some ideas more firmly than others, but more on that later.
So why are teenagers always so quick to jump to conclusions, which to us seem vague and irrational?
Hormones, hormones, hormones…
Hormones are a vital part of how our brain interacts with the outside world. When we grow up we pass through different milestones, correlating mostly with our sexual behavior. During the age of 13-18, our bodies start developing a sense of who we are and how should we behave around members of the opposite sex.
Because hormones and neurotransmitters play such an important role in constructing our sense of what it is to be human, sudden changes in the chemical balance of the brain can have severe consequences on our behavior.
Teenagers are affected the most by these changes, mostly because the brain, in its endless effort to eliminate cognitive dissonance, does release more hormones than in its untroubled state.
In modern psychology, cognitive dissonance is classified as holding two or more contradicting cognitions at the same. Put in simple terms, cognitive dissonance is like believing that you have the fastest car in the world, where at the same time you know this is not the case.
When we are young, we are constantly looking for the answer to the question ‘who am I”? Because we are yet to develop our brains in a fashion which would allow us to see pass the picture so to speak, our brain is instead soaking up information like crazy. This process inevitably leads to confusion and distress, just because it is impossible to be, to feel and to behave in two different ways all at the same time.
The constant rationalizations and justifications of the troubled teenage mind give excuse for acting and behaving in a way, which would later seem foolish, even childish. But we have absolutely no control over this, for it is an inherited consequence of our effort to eliminate cognitive dissonance. To find the answer of ‘Who and What am I?’
Behavior Modification Techniques
The only way to enable constructive behavior in teens is to eliminate the duality of thought within their psyche. This can be done by sitting down and talking to our troubled teen. Listen to their problems and then try to figure out how to resolve the problem without there being any conflicts of interest between you and your child, and make it in a way which is not degrading or humiliating in any way.