Why Are #YoungMinds So Vulnerable?

Mentoring Young Minds
Why is it so difficult to guide teenagers?

Why do they drift away and want to take their own decisions?
Why do they trust their peer group more than their best well- wishers?
How can they be easily influenced and manipulated by antagonists?

While parents and teachers dismiss all that as irresponsible and immature behavior, it is not very easy to understand a young mind. Psychologists have been trying to do that for many years.

Researchers believe that human brain development continues till the age of 25. The complex changes that the brain undergoes make them volatile and vulnerable. Youngsters crave individualism, freedom and self-regulation but are prone to risky behavior during this growth. Their patience and self-control is not fully developed. They can’t think of the consequences.

According to Dr. Frances Jensen, a Neuroscientist, “Teenagers make much more sense when you understand that the frontal lobes of the brain – the part responsible for judgment, impulse control, mood and emotions – is the last part to fully develop. So the brain just doesn’t know how to regulate itself yet. They’re like Ferraris with weak brakes.”

Ironically when they need their parents the most, they lose connection with them. We too are responsible for this disconnect.

What alienates them?

    1. Lack of understanding by parents: While teenagers are trying to cope up with physical and emotional upheavals within them, all they need is love and assurance that they are good enough. Most of them change, adapt and respond in a positive manner but those who don’t get the right environment seek it elsewhere.
    2. Excessive control: All they need at this stage is patient hearing. The quest to explore and experiment is the highest at this phase of life. If the rules and regulations are too crippling, youngsters take pleasure in flouting them. Setting the boundaries may be essential but one has to be flexible at times and give some freedom otherwise they become rebellious.
    3. Criticism: Teenagers are very sensitive and self-conscious. Criticism affects them deeply and they might retract into their own shell, stop sharing their thoughts and desires and could develop a low self-esteem. Such minds never come out of their developmental trauma and might react violently.
    4.  High expectations: I have seen many high school students struggling to come up to the expectations of their parents and choosing the subjects due to parental or peer pressure. In an attempt to please their parents or accomplish the dreams of their fathers, they lose their own personality.
    5. Neglect: Children, who grow up in dysfunctional families or those who have not received basic emotional support at an impressionable age, carry a baggage of unspoken words, which drag them deeper into an abyss of darkness. They always carry grudges in their heart against the world and become insensitive and apathetic. All they need is help though they are unwilling to accept it.

How can we help?

  • Provide them with safe and loving environment at home
  • Early bonding through open discussions
  • Listen to them calmly and patiently
  • Avoid criticism of their ideas and friends
  • Encourage regular exercise and creative channelization of energy
  • Encourage adequate rest and sleep
  • Avoid coercing them for career goals
  • Avoid stressful talk
  • Talk about your expectations calmly and logically.

Role of teachers:Children are like clay

Teachers are the role models for students. A kind and an affectionate word for the most unruly student attracts his attention and he leans towards the teacher who has a sympathetic attitude towards him. I have seen the toughest ones melt into tears of remorse when I tried to delve deeper, to probe into the causes of their violent behavior.

Little disappointments seem gigantic to teenagers. Teachers can convert those moments of disenchantment into stepping-stones by talking them out of negativity. A good teacher can also become a counselor, as she/he understands students better than parents. Teenagers feel more comfortable in sharing their problems with their teachers.

Young minds can be molded into positive and responsible individuals but the onus lies on us.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

42 thoughts on “Why Are #YoungMinds So Vulnerable?

  1. Wise words Balroop. And often the teachers have a huge influence on children so they hold a lot of power in helping a child build their self-esteem. 🙂

    1. Thanks Deb! Not just the teachers, we all could contribute positively by reporting any violent behavior, which could later escalate into something serious.

  2. Can so well relate to this post Balroop. My son just crossed his teenage a couple of years back. Though it was not a turbulent one, there were lots of challenges I faced. Arguments were rampant. But with time and trying to be in his shoes, I gave in a little and he understood a little. So it a more amicable relationship later. Now he is in a hostel for graduation, and I see a lot of maturity in his behavior during his visits home.

    1. Thanks for sharing your personal journey Radhika. I am glad you could understand your son well by trying to step into his shoes as that is the only way to lessen the generation gap. Wishing you a warmer relationship with him. 🙂

  3. Balroop, a terrific post and one that resonates with me! My son is in his middle teens and I’ve realised the years are as much a learning experience for me as he grows up, becomes more independent and searches to make his mark in this world. Your points to parents is spot-on!! As you write, teachers also have a key role in these years and their influence is wide-reaching. A good one will fire up enthusiasm and excitement about the subject and life in general. A poor one can collapse any interest in the subject and also affect self-confidence and lower their spirits.

    1. I agree with you Annika. We learn so much from our children at this stage and the way I grew as a mother when my children were passing through this challenging phase is amazing, even to me! Since I was a high school teacher at the same time, I could understand them both as individuals as well as loving daughters. I could quote many pitfalls I saw at my own school and could give indirect advice, without actually lecturing though they were smart enough to see through! 🙂 🙂

  4. I read this with a lot of interest because I can feel my teenage years like it was yesterday. Agree with the points you raised, Balroop. Teenagers often are highly sensitive as they try to adjust to society’s expectations. It is also an exciting time for them: they are becoming adults, finding their place in their world, figuring out what they like and what they want to do. That was how I felt when I was a teenager, and felt like I needed my own space. Support from loved ones is important especially when teenagers are looking for guidance, but there’s also too much support that it’s suffocating. Negativity can be always near teenagers – their ambitious ideas can often be deemed too ambitious, and a good teacher should encourage them to make their own decisions, but also to provide options and different sides of the story too. A great write as usual my friend. Have a wonderful week ahead.

    1. ‘Too much support is suffocating!!’…I can understand your view so well Mabel. I wish these young growing minds could understand that there can never be a better well wisher and mentor than a parent, whose sole aim is to protect. All parents wish that their children should not make the same mistakes they made yet they refuse to learn from the experiences of others! They have to stumble to learn!
      Thanks dear friend and you too have a nice week.

  5. I took a class in college about development. Piaget taught me more than anyone else about young minds because he explained what I could expect when (but not as absolutes). They are different and wonderful brains.

    1. Growing awareness and research has made it easier for parents to get enlightened before judging their immaturity, which continues till 25 though they think otherwise!

  6. I completely agree with your points here. Young minds need love, support and compassion. Criticizing them can have drastic effects. Comparing with others, lambasting their performances, only widen the gap. A little patience and few words of empathy always do wonders.

    1. Thanks for adding those points Mani…comparisons hit very hard but people are so fascinated by the achievements of others that they can’t get out of this habit.

  7. Interesting Balroop. I imagine teenage years are not the easiest ones to deal with. The most important is for parents and teachers to work alongside to create space and safety for kids to grow through this time and find their place into the world.
    You are inspiring and I know your words can help many people Balroop.

    1. You are right Marie…giving them space but keeping a hawk’s eye, without actually meddling into their affairs and a timely advice. But all parents are not that discerning and people have their own compulsions. However, parenting and raising a responsible, happy and successful individual is a big challenge.

  8. Excellent post, Balroop, and lots of good advice. Historically teenagers were forced to grow up fast too, simply out of necessity. When the average life expectancy was 29, teenagers were often supporting families, working jobs, and having families of their own. They are, in some ways, adults and yet still growing. It’s a tricky balance for parents, which is why teachers and mentors are so vital. Lots to think about!

    1. Thank you for mentioning this significant point Diana. What you call history is still a reality in many countries and cultures. They are expected to earn a livelihood and even married before they become adults! All teenagers are not that lucky to enjoy the best phase of their life.

  9. I used to joke with my students that they literally weren’t in their right minds as a way to bring up various behavior issues that would crop up from time to time. It held them accountable, but also gave them an out at the same time.

    1. Rightly said Jeri! Leaving them alone to deal with their thoughts and challenges could be quite detrimental. Keeping a channel of discussion open often helps. All may not agree with the points of discussion but some positivity does seep in.

  10. A very wise and interesting post Balroop. I know from personal experience how devastating it can be when teachers are critical and lacking in wisdom. It can take such a long time to heal. 🌼

  11. I feel there is too much pressure on youngsters these days. Your guidelines are definitely helpful and precise. With every decade the way teenagers think change. Parents are unable to understand their thinking and vision which only alienates them further.

    1. The generation gap has always been there arv. Though parents of each era try to keep pace with the changes, youngsters move much faster and therefore it never gets filled. 🙂 Thanks for standing by to share your view, much appreciated.

      1. I certainly agree with that. However, the way technology is changing over the last few years, it has made it little tougher on parents. They find it hard to adapt to these super fast changes. But as you say this gap will always be there. It’s always nice to hear your thoughts. 🙂

      2. Reminds me of those times when Computers had just entered our lives and I had shared an expression with my nephew that they are tedious and his advice still rings in my ears…’bhua you are like an illiterate sitting outside a post office, requesting somebody to write a letter for you. The train is departing’, he said, ‘catch it before it is too late!’ I here we are! I am glad I paid attention to the words of a teenager. 🙂

      3. I feel that is a great thing you did for yourself. Today you just can’t ignore technology. Probably in a few years time it’ll be difficult to survive if you can’t use technology. The best way forward is to go with the times. 😊

  12. Very well written post, Balroop. I see so much I can relate to in viewing my own development as a teen. If only my parents could have had the benefit of the wisdom you shared here. They were good parents, but . . . 🙂

    1. Each generation has new ideas Joe, probably our parents gave their best but parenting seems more challenging these days, with so many distractions around us. Thanks for chiming in 🙂

  13. Indeed a must read for all the parents whose children are going through this phase. I agree so much need to be done to embrace them rather than argue and put them down for everything they demand or question us. It is the state of mind where they are bubbling with ideas and such diverse thoughts keep coming quite thick and fast from all corners and they need answers and they look for positive outcomes, any negation or against their expectation goes into a tailspin and it needs adequate care and compassion. So many factors add up to that vulnerable state of mind and there are enough distractions in today’s world which can keep them completely hooked otherwise and any unnecessary restrictions can result in withdrawal symptoms and they are impulsive and in such situations they get repulsive.

    I personally remember my school days when we were in a state of disturbance or upset and a teacher spots us and tries to listen to us and guide us and gives the courage, we feel so good about and even we go back home with confidence and our behavior with parent instantly changes, such has been the influence of teachers in our life. Imposition, restriction, criticism, control beyond a point has no space with this generation, they are ahead of us in the way they look at life and what they want, we need to be a good listener and give proper logic and understand their point of view then they will listen to us and many cases we may be wrong and have not really understood them. They are dogged and determined, unless their point is reaches the opposite side they continue to stand by their thought, hence it essential to be with them and adopt an open mind in talking with them.

    Thanks Balroop for a powerful piece of post much needed by one and all, one form or the other we are connected with children with impress-able ages and we need the art of engaging with them.

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