The teen years can be challenging. You can make it a more peaceful time by understanding how the teen brain thinks. When it comes to emotions, teens are working out of a lower area of the brain called the limbic region (the “emotional center” of the brain). Teens often have mood swings. And they often act on how they feel before thinking things through. Changes occurring in the adolescent brain slow down a teen’s ability to identify emotions. They may struggle to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others. Teens often misinterpret the look on someone’s face or body language. For example, they may see anger instead of fear or concern. As their brains mature, teens will become more skilled at identifying and thinking through their emotions.
The Following Steps Can Help You Talk with Your Teen:
• Say clearly how you feel. Use “I” statements such as “I care about you” and
explain what is making you feel that way: “I am worried because you didn’t call
me to tell me you’d be late…” Be sure to use words – not facial expressions –
to say what you mean and avoid generalizing, blaming statements
(“You never do what I ask. ”)
• Ask your teen how he or she feels. Remember that your teen’s feelings may
change a lot. Mood swings are not unusual.
• If your teen is angry or upset, stay calm. Don’t lose your temper.
• Set some rules for talking about problems. Say “I want to know why you
are upset. But you cannot yell, scream, or swear at me."