If you have a child in the 11-12-year-old age group, you know that puberty has arrived! They even begin to look different as the puberty hormones rush through their body and bring about lots of physical changes.
But what is as significant during these same years is that your child’s brain enters a time of rapid development. They begin to think and respond differently than they have when they were still a child. They are now adolescents and this means lots of big changes in the way they think and respond.
There are two parts of the brain that will be of particular interest to you.
The emotional center does what its name implies. This part of your adolescent’s brain is actually a little more developed than the other parts. You have probably noticed a change in your adolescent’s emotions over the last year or so. You can thank the emotional center for that.
The prefrontal cortex, located behind the forehead, has many very special tasks. This is where getting organized comes from, for example. But another important task of the prefrontal cortex is to put the brakes on the emotional center. Sadly, it takes time for this part to develop and so during these years, the emotional center is more in control.
Why should you care about all of this brain information? During these 11-12 years, understanding why your adolescent is reacting so quickly and with so much emotion is helpful. You haven’t failed as a parent. This is a biological process. What might need some adjustment is your parenting notebook. Rather than reacting with them, try not to take the outbursts personally. There still needs to be boundaries, but more listening on your part will go a long ways to helping your adolescent navigate all the new feelings and emotions.
If you go to the Downloads tab, you will find wonderful resources to help your adolescent understand the biology of what is happening in their body. There are also great videos and blogs with more information about the brain and emotions.
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