BioTeens and Hidden Minds Collaboration: Rebellion in Teens is Normal Behavior
Teen rebellion is a part of many people’s lives and is a normal part of growing up. Often parents are worried that their teen’s behavior is abnormal; however, many teens often “rebel” as part of growing into their identity. Teenagers are programmed to yearn for independence, so it often gets perceived as rebellion. Even though it is a normal phase in development, there is more to teenage rebellion than defying parents. The rapid changes in teens’ bodies, as well as environmental influences, impact their choices to rebel, which is normal for many teens.
Why Teens Rebel (the biological aspect):
One reason teenage rebellion is common has to do with the fact that there are rapid changes going on inside teens' bodies. The brain continues to develop and grow during the teenage years, causing teens to act out in different ways. The emotional region of the brain often is more advanced than the part that controls rational thought. In fact, Darby Saxbe, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California says, “The more they were activating a central part of the brain to the unfamiliar peer versus to their parents, the more risky the behavior was that they were reporting.” They observed in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is a technology that lets researchers look at the brain, a spike in the precuneus. The precuneus is the part of the brain that regulates our thoughts and how we perceive others’ behaviors.
When we are younger, our prefrontal cortex, which is where thinking and judging occurs, is not very developed. As adolescence, it starts to develop, and teenagers want to utilize this skill. They come up with new ideas, and they might not align with what their parents think, so it prompts them to argue with their parents. Although it might seem like arguing, teenagers are using their new abilities because the prefrontal cortex is working.
Why Teens Rebel (the psychological aspect):
Teenage years are also years in which teens face a lot of pressures from their friends, peers, and family while trying to figure out their own identities. As they face pressures to seem “cool” in front of their friends, they act out. Parents do not understand this behavior,
resulting in arguments between teens and their families. During this time teens also want more independence and want to experiment with things before becoming adults, so they defy adult restrictions to assert their independence. They are shedding their “child” image so they can develop. However, acting out also helps them learn the consequences of their actions and take responsibility for them, causing them to disappear as teens mature. In fact, statistics from BBC science show that criminal behavior for boys begins around 13 years old and then mainly disappears by adulthood. Since these behaviors disappear by adulthood, they are normal and a part of growing up.
How parents can help teens with rebellion and how teens can deal with it:
Because of the normality of these behaviors in teens due to growth and social pressures during this period, teens and parents alike should not worry about the teens’ behavior. However, rebellious behavior can often lead to conflicts in families as well as in friendships. These problems in the family can be fixed by both parents and teens working to facilitate an environment of peace and comfortableness, in which both can share their opinions and emotions freely. In this type of environment at home, teens are able to share their worries and explain their reasons for their behavior, but it is very important that both the parents and the teen understand each other. It is also very important that teens don’t succumb to peer or friend pressures to act or make a certain choice by evaluating the consequences first. This is why parents should still guide teenagers in their decision, but also avoid imposing their thoughts onto them. Remember, parents used to be teenagers. Although it was years ago, they probably went through a similar phase.
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