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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If we want our kids and teens to take our guidance into brave behaviour, they have to know that we see what they’re worried about - that we truly get it - and that we still know they can do this and that they’ll cope with whatever happens, because they will.

The brain and body respond the same to physical threats (being chased by a bear) as it does to psychological threats (hard things, new things, brave things). So just because the brain has registered a threat, doesn’t mean it is a threat.

Kids need to know that anxiety has nothing to do with strength, courage, character, and it is absolutely not a sign that they can’t cope. It’s a sign that they are about to something brave, important and meaningful – and that can be hard sometimes. Ask, ‘Is this a time to be safe (sometimes it will be), or is this a time to be brave?’♥️
The key to moving kids trough anxiety is helping them know when to retreat into safety, and when to move forward into brave.♥️
When their world feels wobbly, children will look to their closest adults for signs of safety. Our nonverbals will speak the loudest. We’ve been communicating in nonverbals long before words. With every expression, movement, with our posture, our voice, our tone, we’re communicating to them whether we believe they are brave enough and safe enough. 

Our capacity to self regulate is key. If you can breathe and lower your own anxiety, they will pick this up. Our nervous systems are talking to each other every minute of every day.  So often, the move towards brave doesn’t start with them. It starts with us. 

If you can hold a calm steady presence it will make it easier for their bodies and brains to pick up on that calm. If they’ve been feeling anxious retreating from something for a while, it will take a while them to trust that they can cope, and that’s okay. The move towards brave doesn’t have to happen quickly. It’s the direction that matters. 

Breathe, validate, and invite them into brave: ‘I know this feels big. What can you do that would feel brave right now?’ And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️

#parenting #anxietyinkids #mindfulparenting #parents #raisingkids #heywarrior
Few things will stoke anxiety more in an anxious child than unpredictability. One of the ways they might relieve their anxiety is through control. (We can all fall into controlling behaviour when we’re anxious.) This isn’t done to be insensitive or ‘bossy’, even though it might come out that way. It’s done because of their great and very understandable need for predictability and safety.

Anxious kids don’t need to control everything in order to feel safe but they do need someone to take the lead and you’re perfect for the job. They need to understand that they can trust you to keep them safe. To show them, be predictable and clear with boundaries and have confidence in protecting those boundaries. Predictibility will increase their sense of safety and will help to minimise the likelihood of an anxious response.

Without limits kids have nothing to guide their behaviour. The options become vast and overwhelming. They need to feel like you’ve got them, that you’ve set a safety zone and that within that, they’re fine. Of course they’ll push up against the edges and sometimes they’ll move well outside them – that’s all part of growing up and stretching their wings but even then, the boundaries will offer some sort of necessary guidance. In time, children without limits wil become controlling and demanding – and that just doesn’t end well for anyone.

When they are pushing against your boundaries, let those boundaries be gentle, but firm. Invite their opinions and give space for them to disagree:
‘I want to understand [why this doesn’t feel right for you] [what you need] [how this can work for both of is].’

But let the final decision be yours with statements of validation:
‘I know this is annoying for you.’

Plus confidence:
‘This is what’s happening and I know [you can do this] [this is how it has to be].♥️
Even the spiciest behaviour will have a valid need behind it. If we can respond to the need behind the behaviour, the behaviour will ease. When this happens, they will be more open to our guidance and influence: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re a great kid, and I know you know that wasn’t okay. How can you put things right?’

Of course, it’s not always easy to know what the need it. They won’t always know what the need is. (Neither do we when we’re losing our (thinking) minds.)

If you aren’t sure what the need is, try to approach this with a curious mind. Watch, wonder, and don’t forget to breathe. Of you think they’re open to it, ask, ‘Can you help me understand what’s happening for you? I really want to understand.’ Soft eyes, a curious mind, and breathe.♥️

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