How to Understand Teen Behavior


Parenting your teen can feel like parenting a complete stranger. Gone are the days where your adoring child placed you on a pedestal -- now, your teen questions your every decision, willfully disobeys your rules and seems always ready for a fight. While he might seem like an enigma, understanding your teen's behavior can help you better understand and anticipate the rest of the teen years. There's a lot of development happening and the more you know, the less confusing the teen years will be for both of you.

  • Understand your teen's brain development to understand his behavior. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the area of your teen's brain responsible for making long-term decisions isn't completely developed. Your teen has difficulty anticipating the future and visualizing where his actions will lead. Instead, he lives in the moment and his decisions revolve around what he wants immediately. Injuries, poor grades and social issues can all be the result of your teen's short-sighted nature.

  • Include the effects of your teen's hormones when trying to understand his behavior, suggests At the beginning of his teen years, he experiences puberty, which causes physical and mental changes that can affect his behavior. Changes in his appearance could make him feel self-conscious, while changes in sexuality could explain why he suddenly spends his time texting girls.

  • Acknowledge the fact that your teen has developed the ability -- but not always the mental capacity -- to engage in adult, sexual relationships. The New Mexico State University Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences notes that most teens are concerned about relationships. Of course, your teen's maturity doesn't always coincide with his sexual behavior, which can explain some of his behavior when in a relationship -- becoming infatuated, making poor decisions or acting awkward with members of the opposite sex.

  • Evaluate your teen's social behavior as a way to decipher his behavior. Your teen's social standing, the way he acts around friends, his reputation and his peer group can have a hefty bearing on his behavior. Everything from what he wears to the music he listens to and how he spends his free time can be influenced by friends. Get to know his friends and you'll better understand his likes, dislikes and other particulars.

  • Talk to your teen as much as possible. While you can weigh his development and mental state to try and understand his behavior, the best way to get information is straight from your teen. While he might not always be willing to talk, you can get him to open up by asking questions that require more than a one-word answer, like "If you had a spare $50, how would you spend it?" or "What's your favorite subject in school and why?" Getting to know your teen can give you clues to his behavior while solidifying your parent-child relationship so he's no longer a stranger.


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