Parents: Your adolescent’s brain is still ‘under construction’

Once upon a time, Mom and Dad had all the answers. But now, tell your middle schooler that the grass is green, and he’ll deny it. Ask whether he’s too hot or too cold, and he’ll whine at you for offering only two choices. Ah, adolescence. Your maturing child is beginning to look like an adult, but he’s not ready to act like an adult just yet. That’s because his brain is undergoing a major period of development. And with that comes a testing of his reasoning skills. This is a good thing for his academic success. But if it leads to constant arguments, try these strategies: • Don’t take the bait. Your child may be eager to press his point, but that doesn’t mean you need to play along if the discussion is heading toward an argument. When he says something intentionally provocative, respond with a simple “That’s interesting” and walk away. Remember: It takes two to carry on an argument. • Resist the urge to get your point across. If he’s looking for a sparring match, he’s likely not listening to you anyway. If you want him to hear what you have to say, save your conversation for a calmer moment. • Avoid a knee-jerk “no.” Don’t assume that what he’s about to say is unreasonable or belligerent. Hear him out.

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