In Defense of Teenagers: It’s Not Their Fault
Everything you wanted to know about teenagers but were afraid to ask (apologies to Woody Allen for the steal). Danish researchers from Aarhus University have discovered:
- Teenagers grow by 8 – 9 cm per year. The reason they can seem gangly and awkward is as they get taller (girls between 12 and 13, boys between 14 and 15) their center of gravity shifts but the brain hasn’t caught up and can’t calculate how to balance its new frame.
- Seemingly reckless risk-taking is not due to stupidity or willfulness. It’s because the human brain isn’t formed until girls are 20 and boys are 24. And the parts responsible for planning and decision-making are finished last. Teenagers’ risk assessment capabilities are only half built.
- Teenagers think about sex every six seconds. Their brains are flooded with hormones, oestrogen and testosterone by the gallon! It’s not their fault.
- Girls do talk more than boys. Girls’ brains are inbuilt with a head-start for language. They talk earlier, have larger vocabularies and use more complex sentences. Because of the way the brain is structure. In girls the part where we produce language has 20% more neutrons than the male; the part where we interpret language is 18% bigger in females.
- Your teenager is not lazy. Teenagers need 10 hours sleep per day as their brains and bodies grow so quickly.
- Their brains shut down when you nag them. The areas of the brain that process negative emotion go on full alert, while the areas that allow us to feel other’s emotions deactivate. And teenagers have poor prospective memories – they aren’t very good at holding things in their heads.
- Teenage “Me, me, me” is not narcissism. It’s because they struggle to recognise emotions in others. They are 20% less accurate in reading fear, shock, anger until age 18 – when their prefrontal brain catches up.
Truly – it’s not their fault!