What Is Normal Behavior For Teens?
When attempting to delineate between typical and atypical teenage behavior it is helpful to understand how the brain of an adolescent functions. With an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex (area of the brain that reigns rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, etc.) teenagers are forced to rely on the amygdala (area of the brain that governs one’s emotions, impulsivity, emotional behavior, and motivation) to process external stimuli. Hence, teenagers are inherently programmed to make decisions and react from an emotional standpoint, not a rational standpoint. Most teens are operating with outdated and inadequate emotional coping mechanisms, and though some teen behaviors may seem wildly outlandish, they may simply be originating from a place of deep confusion. When considering what constitutes normal teenage behaviors, it is helpful to be mindful of the fact that teenagers are on a constant search of self-discovery.
Every young person is unique, and each will navigate the shifting hormones, physical development, challenging lessons, and newfound need for autonomy distinctly. Further, each teen will have a nuanced way of processing, integrating, and/ or internalizing the experiences that arise during adolescence. Examples of normal behavior for teens could include any combination of the following, provided by Healthline:
- Staying up late
- Getting moody, frustrated, and irritable at times
- Not wanting to do schoolwork
- Pushing back on house rules, and testing limits
- Alcohol use and experimentation
- Lying or withholding information to maintain some level of privacy from parents
Even so, due to the highly volatile and emotional nature of teenagers, it can be difficult to distinguish between typical teenage behavior and an indication that something may be awry. As a parent it is important to understand your own limitations and recognize that your teen may be dealing with certain issues that extend beyond your abilities. There is a plethora of highly qualified professionals available that have extensive experience, expert knowledge, and specialize in working with adolescent clientele. Learning a variety of different coping mechanisms and various stress management skills from a qualified mental health clinician can behoove any teen and are likely to be useful long after his or her teenage years.
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