Adolescence has always been a challenging time for parents and teens to get through. Typically, this is because adults feel teens are lazy and/or out of control. However, these behaviors are usually present because teens feel uninspired and lack the right motivation in their lives. And while the development of the brain hasn’t changed, the environment around teens is constantly changing. Now, with the global pandemic at the forefront of our lives, teens are struggling to even complete the minimum daily tasks. Finding ways to inspire teens will ignite their motivation and support them is now more important than ever.
The teen years are a time when the brain is in a very vulnerable state. Changes in the brain, along with physical, social, and emotional developmental shifts, make for an intense array of daily challenges. This vulnerability, coupled with an ever-present pandemic, has amplified these challenges and decreased teens’ motivation even more. And since adolescence is a time that parents and other adults want teens to “get through,” they often miss the opportunities to guide teens instead. Understanding that this stage is vital in the cultivation of a teenager’s independent thinking and that the changes in their brains are essential to how they will manage success in the future will help you as a parent/teacher nurture these critical shifts.
During adolescence, the brain has a lot of plasticity so teens can adapt quickly to a changing environment. However, they are often just directed to learn and repeat tons of information, so their creativity becomes stymied. To better guide teens during this sensitive stage, adults must boost their brains by encouraging them to be creative and solution-oriented. And since teens strive for independence and want to know their actions matter, they need to be allowed to take some risks to help them develop an appropriate gauge for decision making that will follow them throughout their lives. This will also boost their brain and enhance their overall development.
With teens, instructors at Gentle East foster intrinsic motivation by giving teens the ability to make choices in class. This allows them the space for creativity and sparks their motivation, ultimately inspiring them to continue to do more. These same concepts are translated to parents for their use at home with their teens. Our Parent Skillz Blog posts which are based on research in child development and psychology can help parents better understand the role patience, nurturing, and attunement play in helping their teens develop new abilities.
The teen brain is “wired to be inspired” and although some adults view adolescence as a time when teens make bone-headed decisions, it’s important to note that these decisions make the way for new abilities to emerge. By allowing teens room for trial and error and supporting their choices, parents can stimulate excitement and cultivate a better relationship with their child. Approaching adolescence this way will create the best opportunities for teens to make the most of these impressionable years.