Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /data/26/2/12/123/2501449/user/2739711/htdocs/wp-content/themes/limon/functions/includes/po.php on line 125 and defined in /data/26/2/12/123/2501449/user/2739711/htdocs/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 1295

Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /data/26/2/12/123/2501449/user/2739711/htdocs/wp-content/themes/limon/functions/includes/po.php on line 201 and defined in /data/26/2/12/123/2501449/user/2739711/htdocs/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 1295


Oct 10th

Nine Big Changes in Young Teens that You Should Know About

Posted by with No Comments

by Diana Divecha, Ph.D

When children are young, it’s easy to celebrate their developmental changes. We write down their first words and send photos of first steps to grandparents; we scaffold their learning by breaking tasks down into manageable parts, and we mitigate their risks. It’s fairly simple. But something breaks down midway on the journey to adulthood. Around about twelve years of age, our children’s behavior can become perplexing to us. It can feel like they just want to push against us, replace us with peers, make bad decisions, and get into trouble. Suddenly, it’s no longer clear to parents exactly what development we’re supporting–and it’s easy to back off, get judgmental, and start reacting. As a result, both parties can feel abandoned.  Fortunately, we have new information to help us understand this period. Scientists are finding that the ages from 12-15 mark perhaps the period of greatest change of any other point in the lifespan. Here’s what happens:

1. Neurons get pruned. The pruning of unused cell bodies in the brain happens throughout the lifespan, but there is especially vigorous pruning from ages 10-14. What does this mean? Because “the neurons that fire together wire together” it means that whatever kids’ brains are doing at that time becomes particularly established. If kids are playing sports, learning music, doing art, those are the connections that will be made. And if they’re lying on the couch watching TV and snacking, those are the connections that will be made. Use it or lose it, brain scientists say.

2. Connections among neurons increase. In early adolescence, the number of connections among brain cells increase, and this integration of wiring continues into emerging adulthood, consolidating (but never ending) around age 25. Thought becomes more integrated and complex, and reasoning and logical thinking improve. This is when kids begin to like to argue–making and testing these new connections and practicing this newfound skill, just as they used to practice dropping things in infancy or toddling about when they first learned to walk.  What can you do as a parent to support this phase? Try to avoid getting caught up in the content of the argument and instead help your child to think and reason well.

3. Different brain systems come online at different times, in particular the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system, in the mid-region of the brain, evolved earlier and runs the feeling circuitry. It is the seat of emotional reactivity–the fight-or-flight system and associations of feelings with situations, experiences, and relationships. As a result, their feelings are more intense and they have higher highs and lower lows.  For teens, part of self-management during this period is understanding the bigger picture.

4. Kids become super sensitive to their social world. This shift makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: in adulthood they’ll need social awareness to go out and form new relationships, bond, mate, coordinate over resources, and create community. This is the age when teens develop an “imaginary audience” and think that people can see them all the time, even inside their head into their thoughts and feelings. They also engage in “impression management,” going to extra lengths to shape themselves to fit in and belong.  Naturally for youth this age, social pain cuts extra-deep. In fact, being excluded lights up more of the pain-processing area of the brain than getting physically bruised does. The upside to this kindness is, kids in middle school can show unmatched kindness to others, generous acts of inclusion, and empathy toward their peers.

5. Dopamine is at an all-time high. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in reward behavior, and it is higher in early adolescence than at any other point in the lifespan. This also makes sense: It takes a lot of energy to leave the nest, and nature has equipped the leavers with feel-good chemistry to take new chances. The downside, though, is that dopamine can seal in behavior with those feel-good experiences, and can be a deadly combination with reward-seeking behavior and substance use/abuse.

6. Peers can undermine decision-making. Young teens get especially dysregulated in the presence of their peers–to the point where their safety can be jeopardized. In a famous study of a video driving simulation, teens who “drove” alone did so about as well as older teens and adults. But when a peer was in the passenger seat, they suddenly made more dangerous decisions and “crashed” more often compared to the others. It gets better, though, and teens gradually become more resistant to peer influence over the course of adolescence until they finally land safely in emerging adulthood, around 20-23.

  • As a parent, it’s important to help scaffold your child’s reasoning and decision-making–while remembering that dopamine is surging, and they are super sensitive and emotional. (Translation: tread gently.)

7. Teens need more sleep and need it later on the dial. Teens need about 9.2 hours of sleep per night compared to adults’ 7-8 hours. Their changing circadian rhythms move them about three hours up the clock, and it becomes biologically impossible to go to sleep any earlier. At the same time, though, they need to rise later, and school start times don’t allow that. As a result, most teens are sleep-deprived, with serious consequences. Sleep deprivation is linked to slowed reaction times, impaired recall, disciplinary problems, moodiness, depression, and accidents. In an experiment in the Minneapolis area, when schools started later, students felt less sleepy, got higher grades, had fewer depressive feelings, fewer conflicts, and less bullying–and SAT scores went up.

8. Sexuality. Teens have to cope both with changes in their bodies as well as new feelings of attraction–to and from other people. These new feelings can give rise to inappropriate behavior, objectification of girls, and homophobia, especially for boys. First sexual experiences can also occur at this time. Sadly, a study of 100 women’s first sexual experiences found that only 10% of women had a positive experience the first time, so parents of daughters might want to be particularly conscious about offering guidance. My mantra to my own girls became, “safe sex: emotionally and physically.” Psychiatrist Lynn Ponton’s book, The Sex Lives of Teenagers, is an excellent resource on this topic. [My older daughter, whose background is in sexual health, gives guidance to parents on discussing sexuality here.]

9. Individuation is the process of becoming more independent and autonomous while staying connected to loved ones. Teens often seem to push against parents, but if you look closely, it’s usually over superficial matters, like pop culture. Don’t worry: In close families, kids’ values about important matters generally align with those of their parents over time. Most importantly: Teens want to stay connected to their parents–and have been saying so to researchers for decades. Make sure to cultivate joyful interests, rituals, or hobbies with your teens that keep bringing you back to each other and that balance out the bumpy spots.

Diana Divecha, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist who writes and speaks about children, teens, and family life. This edited article is reprinted with permission from her website at developmentalscience.com.  Follow her on Twitter @DianaDivecha.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

  1. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 7:03 am

    You actually said this terrifically.
    internet pharmacy
    canada pharmaceuticals online
    top rated online canadian pharmacies
    canadian pharmacies that ship to us

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  2. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Awesome material. Appreciate it.
    no prescription pharmacy canada pharmacy canadian pharmacies top best canadian online pharmacy
    discount drugs online pharmacy
    trust pharmacy canada
    compare rx prices
    canadian drugs
    canada pharmacy online orders
    canadian pharmacies that are legit

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  3. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Seriously lots of excellent advice.
    canada drug prices canadian pharcharmy best canadian mail order pharmacies canada pharmacy
    online pharmacies canada
    no prescription pharmacies
    buy online prescription drugs
    canadian pharmacy meds
    web medical information
    prescription pricing

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  4. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you, A good amount of write ups!
    canada pharmacies prescription drugs canadian cialis canadian drug store canadian pharmacies-24h
    prescription price comparison
    pharmacy prices
    prescription drugs prices
    cheap prescription drugs
    canadian pharcharmy online
    pharmacy canada

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  5. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Well voiced of course. !
    buy prescription drugs without doctor north west pharmacy canada best canadian prescription prices canadian pharmacies-24h
    rx pharmacy
    buy drugs online
    canada drugs
    canadian drugs without prescription
    online pharmacies

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  6. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Good facts. Thanks a lot!
    canadian pharmacies without prescriptions mexican pharmacies shipping to usa canadian pharmacies that ship to us canada drug
    legitimate canadian mail order pharmacies
    cheap drugs online
    approved canadian pharmacies online
    pharmacy near me
    canadian online pharmacy reviews
    online drugstore

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  7. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you! Wonderful stuff.
    canadian pharmacy meds canadian cialis the canadian pharmacy canadian pharmacy
    international pharmacies that ship to the usa
    king pharmacy
    prescription drugs prices
    canada pharmacies
    discount pharmacy online

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  8. HowardQuaby
    April 16, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    You actually stated it very well!
    cheap prescription drugs online canadian pharmacy canadian pharmacy viagra canadian pharmacy
    pharmacy canada
    pharmacy prescription
    canadian pharmacy viagra brand
    canada drugs
    pain meds online without doctor prescription

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  9. Quentinovase
    April 16, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    You have made your stand quite clearly.!
    24 hour pharmacy trust pharmacy canada prescription without a doctor’s prescription canadian pharmacy
    canadian pharmacy 365
    canada drug
    canadian drugs
    trusted overseas pharmacies
    canada online pharmacy
    canadian pharmacy no prescription

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  10. Quentinovase
    April 16, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks, Valuable stuff!
    international pharmacy north west pharmacy canada prescription drugs online without doctor canadianpharmacy
    no prescription pharmacy
    canadian pharmacy
    pharmacy without dr prescriptions
    canadian prescription drugstore
    canada pharmacy no prescription
    trust pharmacy canada

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  11. Quentinovase
    April 16, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks a lot, Good information!
    online pharmacy without prescription canada drug highest rated canadian pharmacies canada drugs online
    canadian pharmacies that ship to us
    pain meds online without doctor prescription
    pharmacy online store
    online discount pharmacy
    drugstore online
    pharmacy cost comparison

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  12. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Nicely put. Regards.
    cheap canadian drugs global pharmacy canada canadian pharmacies online prescriptions canadian cialis
    canada drug
    canadian mail order pharmacies
    northwest pharmacy canada
    canada drugs
    online pharmacy without a prescription
    pharmacy online

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  13. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Very good data. Thanks a lot!
    us pharmacy no prior prescription canadian pharmacy online canada drugs canadian pharmacy
    canada pharmacies prescription drugs
    canadian meds
    walmart pharmacy price check
    canadian drugstore online
    canada drug pharmacy
    canada drug pharmacy

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  14. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Tips effectively regarded!.
    canada online pharmacies northwest pharmacy canadian pharmacies without prescriptions canadian pharmacies online
    canadian viagra
    prescription drugs prices
    drugs without prescription
    canada pharmacy no prescription
    cheap prescription drugs online
    pharmacy price comparison

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  15. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Wow all kinds of terrific tips!
    best canadian prescription prices canadian viagra online drugs canada online pharmacies
    online discount pharmacy
    meds online
    canada pharmacies without script
    drugs for sale
    discount pharmacy online

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  16. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Great facts. Thanks.
    canadian pharmacy reviews canadian pharmacy canadian pharmacy reviews northwestpharmacy
    online pharmacy canada
    buy prescription drugs online
    canada pharmacies online pharmacy
    canadian rx
    best price prescription drugs
    online canadian pharcharmy

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  17. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    You’ve made the point.
    approved canadian pharmacies online canadian pharmacies-24h drugs from canada canadianpharmacy
    canadian drug
    mexican pharmacies online
    canadian online pharmacies
    drugs for sale
    top rated canadian pharmacies online

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  18. Quentinovase
    April 17, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Very well spoken indeed. !
    pharmacies near me canadian pharcharmy get prescription online canada pharmaceuticals online
    rx price comparison
    buying drugs canada
    pharmacy prices
    drugs from canada
    mail order pharmacies

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *