Checkup: Teens & Impulse Control
Teenagers have been known to do some pretty dumb things. Like throwing a huge party and trashing the house while the parents are away -- I remember that from high school. Or drinking too much and getting sick. Teens make all kinds of foolish decisions.
So why do teenagers do these things?
"Itís not about teenagers being stupid."
Thatís Dustin Albert, a soon-to-be newly minted Ph.D. in psychology at Temple University.
"The skill that seems to underlie that is called impulse control, and itís really just a matter of waiting and thinking before acting."
In other words, even though teens often do dumb things, itís not because they lack intelligence or donít understand what theyíre doing. Teenagers are typically pretty smart, Albert says. But they do tend leap into action without always thinking things through. Especially when theyíre hanging out together.
"Something as simple as whether to jump off a cliff into the water. You could get aroused by the situation youíre in, youíre with friends and making quick decisions to jump without really considering the depth of the water, not thinking through all the implications before you do it, even though you have the capacity to do that. You just donít have the established tendency to stop and wait and think and plan carefully before taking the action."
The sort of sound judgement that kids donít always display comes with age, as the brain develops and teens learn how to control their impulses. But until that happens, Albert says, itís helpful for parents to understand how their kidsí minds work, and donít work.
"Yes, trust your kids, yes give them the opportunity to do adult-like to gain stability skills in the world. But also recognize that theyíre still a work in progress."
Iím Jeremy Shere.