When it comes to bringing up a teenager, expectations are important. And in this day and age, nutrition is playing a factor. The kids are bigger and that probably plays into why parents are expecting more. Marcie Fraser reports.
“Parents misperceive that size and sexual maturity as social, emotional and relational maturity but we know from studying the brain that social, emotional, relational maturity runs four to eight years behind physical growth and sexual maturation," said Mike Nerney, Adolescent Brain Development Consultant.
Is your teenager experiencing major ups and downs? Well, parents - it's normal.
“They are doing far more feeling than they are thinking. Because one of the last places that develops is the prefrontal cortex and between twelve and twenty two years of age, about every emotion they have they have with two to four times the intensity than we have,” said Nerney.
Do you have a drama queen on your hands? Parents, it’s not by choice.
“It's not like your daughter chose to be a drama queen from sixth grade through second year in college, it's what happens in their brains. So, understanding that they are not exaggerating their emotions, that they are truly felt,” said Nerney.
The brain of a teenager matures much later than most parents prefer.
“For girls it is 20 to 21 before their brains emerge out as adult brains, for men it’s about 23 to 25,” said Nerney.
Does most of the drama occur around hair, makeup, and clothing? Again, they can’t help it.
“In kids' brains they have about five times as much activity around the way they look. So that's why they spend so much time getting ready every day and checking the mirror,” said Nerney.
Because teenagers place so much emphasis on being accepted, peer pressure can be a critical factor in their behavior.
“Peers play a big role. In our brains, peers are important because we like other people, but in their brains peers are two to four times more important because they need social bonding and inclusion,” said Nerney.