Adolescents – independence on steroids

Episode Description

Adolescents present unique challenges for parents. For example, the reactive push for independence can be triggering for parents. In this podcast, Jenny reveals how parent efforts to correct behaviours can inadvertently reinforce a conflict cycle that can fuel a teen’s physiological reward system: (sensation seeking). An overview of adolescent brain development makes sense of this reward system.

The podcast invites parents to consider two typical cycles of interaction: Escalating fighting with a teen, with a parent staying stuck in the conflict, believing that if they “lose”, they are a poor parent leader. The other is the cycle of escalating rescuing, and accommodating. Jenny presents ways parents can disengage from these unhelpful cycles. The parent’s effort is to contribute to an environment that enhances the teen’s development of thoughtful self-responsibility rather than trying to correct their behaviours, thereby giving them more fuel to react to.

The perspective of family systems thinking is not about changing an individual but changing the emotional/relational environment in the family. The good news is that It takes just one parent to adjust themselves in ways that reduce the intensity in their relationships. More constructive than convincing an adolescent to change in the short term.

Next Podcast: Special needs children – nurturing capacity even when limited

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Sensation seeking: Steinberg L. A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-Taking. Dev Rev. 2008 Mar;28(1):78-106. doi: 10.1016/j.dr.2007.08.002. PMID: 18509515; PMCID: PMC2396566.

Flexibility in parenting interactions: Branje, S. (2018), Development of Parent–Adolescent Relationships: Conflict Interactions as a Mechanism of Change. Child Dev Perspect, 12: 171-176.

Understanding teenage brain development: