Parents realize that it’s important to teach their adolescents about the physical changes of puberty. But how many parents understand what is going on in their child’s brain at the same time puberty is happening? These changes are obvious, but a little surprising.
By about 9-10 years old, you’ll notice some changes in your child’s emotions and the way they begin to make sense out of life. The main reason for this change is because of a rapid time of development going on inside their brain. You remember how amazed you were when they learned to walk. It was as if the entire world — or at least the entire house — opened for them. They wanted to explore every corner and were a little frustrated when either you or some other obstacle got in their way. Now, flash forward to a young adolescent whose brain has just exploded again. This is going to be another amazing time for your child and for you.
It’s important that you be prepared for the changes that come with brain development. It will begin as early as 9-10 years old and extend into their early 20s. Connections between brain cells, called neurons, are being pruned away if they are not needed, and lots of new connections are being made. Each part of the brain has its own responsibilities to coordinate functions for the body, but one part that is going to show early changes is a central emotional coordination center deep in the brain. You will notice that your adolescent surprises you with the quickness of their emotional responses to you. For example, in the past, they may not have been happy when you asked them to do something, but now they clearly let you know just how unhappy they are.
These are challenging times for parents. The old parenting playbook is not working like it once did. It’s time for a new playbook. With the new playbook there will also need to be a change in the way you respond to your adolescent. You are still the parent, but it’s time to become a little more of a coach.My next few blogs are going to focus on the new parenting play book. I will help you think through practical ways to respond to your adolescent as they mature from this younger age into their early teenage years.
I hope you take a few minutes to check out my newly designed website. I love it because you can easily find lots of great information to help you as you help your child. Use the videos and blogs to get you thinking about brain development and many other important topics.
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