No, Your Teen Isn’t Crazy… Well, Sort Of

Teens have a knack for inducing insanity in adults. So, how do parent, not just survive this but actually help your once-upon-a-time sane child as well?

Teens have a knack for instantaneously inducing insanity in the adults around them. They’re stubborn, closed, risk-taking, and their, “That’s not normal” alarm is clearly malfunctioning – they think everything isn’t normal (Exhibit A: you) except for the questionable hooligans they call friends. So, how do you, as a parent, not just survive this but actually help your once-upon-a-time sane child as well?

In the next article we’ll get into specific skills. For now, you need to know two things about the teenage brain to have any hope of navigating this problem. Dr. Larry Steinberg, a leading researcher on teenage risk-taking has found that, first, the rational decision-making system of the brain develops quite early. As hard as this is to believe, your teen is no more “irrational” than you. This uncomfortable fact is largely what’s behind those punishingly sharp arguments you’re beginning to have. The kid’s starting to make some sense – in a zombie sort of way. The take home, here, is your teen also realizes there’s a problem between you two and is at as much of a loss explaining or fixing it as you.

Second, as near as Steinberg can tell, teens are like sports cars without breaks. The make and model of this car is the socio-emotional system. It develops quite early and is behind the ecstatic feeling of bliss when around friends and the crushing desperation of nihilism when alone. Teens are figuring out who they are and self-discovery is, by definition, a social act of comparison. And, that act is going 250 miles an hour. Your teen is literally a friends-addict.

The underdeveloped cognitive-control system is the missing breaks. This system finishes developing in your early 20’s and enable planning, consequences reward and risk comparison, emotional self-regulation, inhibition, and abstract thinking. This amounts to intense short-term thinking, emotional instability, and blindness to consequences. So, teenager stuff.

Putting these pieces together, your teen is rational enough to both see and be confused by how he’s being torn in two by the intense need to be with others and know himself. At the same time, he’s recklessly writing checks his body can’t cash – on a biological level he literally doesn’t know when to quit. Man, I’m glad I’m not a teenager.

Yonasan Bender, SW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He has his psychotherapy practice at The Place: The Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Yonasan Bender at 053-808-0435 or email him by clicking HERE. To learn more about him and his work, click HERE.

About The Place

The Place is where therapists, individuals and the community connect to create safety, strength and success. At The Place, men and women discover the freedom and safety to move past those issues which are preventing them from living life to its fullest. Our goal is to help each of our clients discover his or her own strengths as powerful tools in the healing process.

The Place is a multi-faceted clinic offering both individual and group therapy, support groups, interactive evenings and lectures, educational classes, and drop-in hours. Our comfortable, confidential, relaxed environment allows clients and their families to explore sensitive issues and create positive change. We believe that the key to mental health and emotional well-being is inside you.

At The Place, male and female therapists work independently or as a team to explore sensitive issues and facilitate positive change for individuals, couples and families from all sectors of the community. Some of our specialties include emotional eating, grief counseling, internet addiction, phobias, anxiety & OCD, childhood challenges, premarital counseling, couples therapy and intimacy issues, postpartum support, personality disorders, psychiatric care, and more. Connect with a caring professional in person at our comfortable Jerusalem offices, or by video, phone, and text. We’re here for you.

Contact Us

Phone (02) 581 8299
Whatsapp 054 260 1468

Social Media






Related Posts

More to Explore