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The Problem of Growing Up

Science Education for the Early Grades Forums Open Discussion The Problem of Growing Up

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      Bernard Nebel
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      Many parents face the disturbing experience that their darling kid, as they approach and get into their teenage years, suddenly become “recalcitrant brats.” What is going on? What is going on is a natural, built in, maturational, developmental process. In the course of human evolution, which has a prolonged childhood, their needed to be a way breaking the child-parent dependance and becoming a self-sufficient, independent adult.

      Recent research (Lynda Denworth, “The Age of Opportunity”, Scientific American, May 2021, pp. 57-61) has revealed that the brain is effectively 
“rewired” in these years. This “rewiring” is what nature designed to move the offspring from childhood to adulthood. In some cases, this transition may go smoothly; in other cases there may be severe conflict, depression, and worse. How does one cope?

      The key thing is to recognize that the root causes of changes are maturational/developmental and quite beyond the child’s control or understanding. Therefore, any attempts to get your emerging teenager to explain what is going on and remain the obedient child they were will be futile. Rather, seek to understand the basic motives driving your teenager’s behavior, and guide them to discover productive ways of achieving their new goals.

      For example, the “rewired brain” seeks trying new things, experimenting, taking risks. Hazards are trying and becoming addicted to smoking, drugs, or alcohol. Just telling kids NO, is ineffective. Instead, guide them to literature that describes the tragic ill effects, and let them make the decision, not to experiment with this path. And provide alternatives: introduce them to opportunities for guided outdoor adventure trips, hiking, climbing, canoeing, etc.

      A high priority of the “rewired brain” is socialization and status among one’s peers, which can get into bullying, being bullied, and gangs. Introduce kids to opportunities with constrictive groups such as sports teams, drama groups, music groups, etc.

      The “rewired brain” becomes conscious of broader social and environmental issues and wants to help. Help them identify non-governmental groups/organizations involved in the issues that concern them.

      The whole of the economy is based on the the exchange of goods and services. Money is only a medium that facilitates the exchange. Lighten up on probing your child as to “What do you want to be?”. Instead ask, “What service/goods would you like to provide?”

      Please post your own experiences and insights.

       

       

       

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