Understanding the brain of a Teen with a Bad Attitude

Understanding the brain of a Teen with a Bad Attitude

Parents of teens can have it rough. Hormones, social pressures, academic pressures, and a changing identity can leave teens moody, demanding, rude, restless, irritable, and discontent. Bring drugs and alcohol into the equation and parents are faced with an even tougher challenge. Drugs and alcohol change the way a teen regulates their emotions entirely, altering their brain chemistry and structure. Drugs and alcohol have also been proven to inhibit the still developing teenage brain, causing serious issue in how an adolescent behaves.

Many parents find themselves at their wit’s end. Parents try a soft approach, a hard approach, a compassionate approach, a punishing approach, until their options for approach run out. Together in treatment, parents and addicted teens can navigate the ups and downs of adolescence, as well as develop effective communication skills. They can help each other cope with the journey of recovery and adolescence together.

Though parents have likely spent much time seeking to understand their teen, they still may not understand what exactly it is causing their son’s bad attitude and what they can do to help. For example, many parents make the mistake of taking their teenage son’s attitude personally. Often times, the teen is making it personal. However, their attitude is not necessary intentional, or personal. Teenagers in early recovery, for example, are dealing with both the normal changes of adolescence as well as the struggles of learning to live without dependency on drugs and alcohol. Regulating impulses, thought processes, decisions, and feelings is difficult for the adolescent brain to do because it is not fully developed. In fact, the areas of the brain which help with these functions are developing especially slow at this age and are halted in their development if a teen is abusing drugs.

“If only” is one of the greatest wishes among parents. If only my teen would listen. If only my teen would stop hiding in his room and spending so much time on social media. If only there were a way to make him understand. Alan Kazdin, professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University and contributing author to TIME explains in his article 3 Myths About Your Teen’s Bad Attitude, “Increased insight as to what is going on with a teenager is just not likely to make any difference in behavior and attitude.”

Teach him that he is loved and that everything is okay. Reasoning with the unreasonable is a lost effort. At this stage of development, your teen is having a hard time reasoning with himself. Taking in, comprehending, and making a decision about your reasoning is even more of a frustrating challenge. “Reason rarely persuades anybody to do things we know we should do…it is even less likely to work with your teenager, considering all those developmental changes.”

At Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, we are bringing families together by building a foundation of recovery. Our programs for adolescent and teenage boys provide a life cleansing experience while offering academic support for progress. Start your journey today. Call us at: 662-598-4214

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