Teenage kicks

The teenage years. We all know that navigating the teenage years can be a challenge.  Understanding brain development during these important years may be helpful in managing difficult teenage behaviour.


You see, during adolescence, the brain is undergoing significant change as it grows and develops, particularly in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and emotional regulation. Unfortunately, these changes can lead to impulsivity, risk-taking behaviour, and emotional outbursts, some of which parents struggle to understand. It's important to keep in mind that these behaviours are often a result of the developing brain and not a reflection of your teen's character or personality. 
These years are a crucial period in young people’s lives that can be used to teach valuable life lessons and instil important values. During this time, teenagers are experiencing various changes physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is an opportune moment to introduce them to concepts like responsibility, empathy, resilience, and perseverance.

By allowing teenagers to face challenges, make decisions, and experience the consequences of their actions, they can learn the importance of accountability and taking ownership of their choices. Additionally, teenagers can be taught to empathise and understand the perspectives of others, fostering a sense of compassion and respect for diversity. Encouraging them to overcome obstacles and embrace failure as a stepping stone to success can instil resilience and the determination to never give up.

How to support yourself and your teen

To support yourself and your teen during this time, it can be helpful to educate yourself and your teen all about the changes happening in their brain and how they can impact behaviour. Many teens struggle with guilt because of their behaviours and attitude, they don’t want to be reactive or hurtful. Should these moments arise, remind yourself that your teen is still developing and learning how to manage their emotions and behaviour. Tell your teen that you love them and hold space for their feelings allowing them to regulate through big emotions.  

Encourage healthy habits for both you and your teen – self-care is essential during stressful times. Suggested healthy habits to promote for both are regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, these can support brain development and emotional regulation. Consider a healthy habit that you could possibly do together – a morning walk or gym class. 

By understanding the teenage brain and offering support and guidance, we can help our teens navigate this challenging time with confidence and resilience.  

Adolescence is a time of immense change and growth, and it's not uncommon for our teens to struggle with their emotions and behaviours as they navigate this complex stage of life.

So how do we manage difficult behaviours in a healthy yet effective way?

Here are a few tips to consider: 

1. Set clear boundaries

It's important to establish rules and expectations for your teen's behaviour and communicate these clearly. This can help them understand what is and isn't acceptable and can help prevent conflict and misunderstandings.

2. Listen actively

When your teen is acting out, it's important to listen to them and try to understand what's going on. Sometimes, difficult behaviour is a sign that your teen is struggling with something deeper, like anxiety, depression, or stress.

3. Stay calm

As frustrating as it can be, it's important to stay calm and avoid getting into arguments or power struggles with your teen. This can escalate the situation and make it harder to resolve.

4. Offer support

Let your teen know that you are there for them and offer support in any way you can. This can be as simple as spending time with them, offering to help with homework or chores, or just being a good listener. Love them fiercely even when they reject it. Be sure to compliment and point out their strengths and qualities. Celebrate their accomplishments and notice when they act with maturity or kindness. 

5. Foster open communication

Encourage your teen to talk about their thoughts and feelings and listen actively without judgment. Share your own teenage stories, mistakes, and lessons. 

Remember, managing difficult teenage behaviour is a process, it takes time and patience. With the right approach, the teenage years offer a unique opportunity to shape individuals into well-rounded adults who possess strong values and are equipped to navigate the complexities of life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Newtownabbey BT36 & BT37
Written by Ashleigh Duncan, Counsellor MBACP
Newtownabbey BT36 & BT37

Ashleigh Duncan Counsellor MBACP
Owner and founder of AD Counselling and Wellness, Newtownabbey and Elements Wellness Studio. Published writer.

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