The Incredible Changes Happening in Your Brain

During adolescence your brain undergoes a massive renovation to get you ready for adulthood. It’s brilliant. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of those changes and be stronger, braver, and wiser.

Transcript

 

  • During adolescence, your brain undergoes a massive ‘renovation’. This is designed to give you the brainpower you need to learn the skills you need to learn on your way to adulthood, discover the person you want to be and discover your very important place in the world.
  • During this time, the brain strengthens and grows is from the back to the front. The first part of your brain to strengthen is the part that drives the instinctive, impulsive behaviours. This means you might be drawn to riskier behaviour, which can also be brave behaviour. One of the reasons for this is to give you the courage to try new things and experiment with your independence.
  • The last part of the brain to strengthen and develop is the pre-frontal cortex. This is the part that helps you to consider consequences, exercise self-control, think about whether or not something is a good idea, plan, and calm big feelings. The pre-frontal cortex won’t really be fully developed until you’re in your early 20s. In the meantime, you might find yourself driven towards impulsive, instinctive behaviours, which might risky or brave, but you’re not going to have the full involvement of that part of your brain that says, ‘Hang on, is this really a good idea?
  • In adults, that part of the brain tends to kick in automatically. During adolescence, you’ll need to be more deliberate in switching it on. When it’s on, it’s just as strong as it would be in adults.
  • There’s so much in you that’s supporting you to make brave, strong decisions, learn what you need to learn, and explore your place in the world. To give yourself what you need to make sure your decisions are brave, healthy, decisions, just take a step back when you can and take a few moments to think about the decision you’re making.
  • This doesn’t mean not taking risks. Risky things are brave things – it’s just important that they’re safe and considered. Follow your heart, but you’ve gotta take your head with you.  

 

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Faces so often say so more than our words ever could. Even more than words and behaviour, faces tell the story of where we (and our nervous systems) are right now. Receive their joyful faces and their brave faces. Their scared faces and their sad faces. When their words are spicy and big their behaviour is bigger, receive their faces. Their faces won’t lie. And neither do ours. By receiving their faces it will open the way to show them, ‘I see you. I feel you. I’m with you.’♥️
Parenting was never meant to be about perfection. Neither was growing up. The messy times are so often where the growth happens - theirs and ours - but this can only happen if we can be with ourselves through the mess, with an open heart and an open mind. But this can be so hard some days! 

Let’s start by shoving the idea of perfect parenting out the door and let’s do that with full force. Perfection. Ugh. Let’s not do that to ourselves and let’s not do that to our young loves. It’s okay for them to see our imperfections, and it’s okay for them to lay theirs bare in front of us. We won’t break them if we yell sometimes. They will learn from our mistakes, and we will learn from theirs.♥️
If the feelings that send them ‘small’ don’t feel safe or supported, the ‘big’ of anger will step in. This doesn’t mean they aren’t actually safe or supported - it’s about what the brain perceives. 

Let them see that you can handle them in all their feelings. Breathe and be with - through their tears, or confusion, or lostness. Just let their feelings come, and let them be. Feelings heal when they’re felt. Big feelings don’t hurt children. What hurts is being alone in the feelings. Your strong, loving presence, your willingness to be with without needing them to be different, and certainty that they’ll get through this will hold them steady through the storm. If they don’t want you near them, that’s okay too. Let them know you’re they’re if they need.♥️
Brains love keeping us alive. They adore it actually. Their most important job is to keep us safe. This is above behaviour, relationships, and learning - except as these relate to safety. 

Safety isn’t about what is actually safe, but about what the brain perceives. Unless a brain feels safe, it won’t be as able to learn, connect, regulate, make good decisions, think through consequences. 

Young brains (all brains actually) feel safest when they feel connected to, and cared about by, their important adults.  This means that for us to have any influence on our kids and teens, we first need to make sure they feel safe and connected to us. 

This goes for any adult who wants to lead, guide or teach a young person - parents, teachers, grandparents, coaches. Children or teens can only learn from us if they feel connected to us. They’re no different to us. If we feel as though someone is angry or indifferent with us we’re more focused on that, and what needs to happen to avoid humiliation or judgement, or how to feel loved and connected again, than anything else. 

We won’t have influence if we don’t have connection. Connection let’s us do our job - whether that’s the job of parenting, teaching - anything. It helps the brain feel safe, so it will then be free to learn.♥️
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#parenting #parentingforward #parentingtips #mindfulparenting
The stories we tell ourselves influence how we feel and what we do. This happens to all of us. These stories can be influenced by our mood, history, stress - so many things that are outside of what’s actually happening. 

When our children are in distress, this will start to create distress in us. The idea of this is to mobilise us to protect, but when that distress happens in the absence of a ‘real’ threat, it can throw us into fight or flight. This can influence the story we tell ourselves. This is really normal.

Whenever you can, pause, and be open to a different story. It won’t necessarily make the behaviour okay, but it will make it easier to give your child or teen what they need in that moment - an anchor - a strong, steady, loving presence to guide them back to calm. 

When their brains and bodies are back to calm, then you can have the conversations that will grow them: what happened, what can you do differently, what can I do differently that would help?

The truth is that they are no different to us. In that moment they don’t want to be fixed. They want to feel seen, safe, and heard.♥️
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#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting

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