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MOM! Stop it! Everyone is watching us. <Reality: There’s not even a soul within 200 feet of you>

My girlfriend broke up with me- you have no idea what that is like. Nobody knows what this is like. It freaking sucks!! <Reality: You’ve been through 9 breakups total.>

It’s seriously not a big deal; I don’t know why you won’t let me have a motorcycle?! I’m not going to be able to go anywhere.You’re so unfair. <Reality: You’ve gone over real statistics with your son about the dangers of riding, and have offered to lend your car freely.>

Yes. Sometimes it feels like talking with our teens is a challenge, let alone having that conversation actually getting somewhere. It can be hard to understand our teenagers—their decisions are rash, their emotions are all over the place. And to make matters more complicated, their rationale often seems…well…off.

Congratulations: You’re right. (Insert pat on the back you already knew you deserved.) Their rationale is off. Teens have several characteristics of thinking that are commonly shared during these formative years.

  1. Adolescent Egocentrism: Teenagers believe with deep conviction that the world revolves around them; they truly struggle to see past their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Teens often can be seen as lazy and inconsiderate- while this can be true, in many cases a teen does not possess the awareness to consider how frustrating throwing their wet towel on the floor is to their mother. Empathy, consideration, and awareness must be built into our teens.

  2. Imaginary Audience: Teenagers feel like someone is always watching them. Wherever they go they feel an awareness that people are watching their every move- especially when it comes to a mess up or something embarrassing. This only adds to the extreme self consciousness that marks every young person.

  3. Personal Fable: Teenagers are convinced that no one can relate to them; their experiences are something only they have experienced. Even with the common pains and feelings that every living person experiences (sadness, breakups, embarrassment, let downs) teens believe that “they are the only one.”

  4. Illusion of Invulnerability: Teenagers think that they are invincible; bad things happens to others, but not them. This thinking (in addition to underdeveloped regions of the brain that operate self-control) increases the propensity for teenagers to take serious risks. They believe they won’t get into a crash if they drive drunk, or get a sexually transmitted infection; those things only happen to other people.

Parents, try to keep these four things in mind when you interact with your child, you will find it easier to empathize with them- and perhaps even avoid arguing your valid point against teenage logic!

If you need help getting through to your teenager, contact me now - Click Here

Reference: Kail, R. V. & Cauvanaugh, J. C. (2012). Human Development: A Lifespan View. (6th ed.)

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