Puberty rears its changeable head when girls are about age 12 and boys are around age 11. How will you know it's arrived? For girls it’s breast buds and for boys it’s testicle enlargement. With girls, you'll notice. With boys, you won't - what you will notice is they become stinky.
With breast buds and enlarged testicles comes a certain amount of craziness. Or maybe I should say crazy-making, because once those puberty hormones kick in so does another round of brain development.
The long and short of it is this: the prefrontal cortex, that would be the part of the brain that handles impulse control, emotional regulation, “if…then” thinking, gets a tune up.
What this means to you is some crazy-seeming behavior. Irrational outbursts, poor decision making – you were a teen – perhaps you recall this period of your life?
Here’s the poop – they can’t help this crazy behavior.
Here’s the other poop – you can control your behavior (in theory) so it’s your job not to match their nuttiness when they are pitching a fit. Not fair, I know, but one of our jobs as parents is to teach our kids how to behave and the best way to do this is by modeling appropriate behavior.
The reason this is on my mind is because I’m revisiting a great book on this topic called Primal Teen: What New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids by Barbara Strauch.
It’s a delightful read and I highly recommend you read it before you have breast buds (or enlarged testicles) at your house.