Nowadays, adolescence begins around twelve years old and lasts another ten years. I specify, “nowadays” because 150 years ago it was limited to three, four years because the girls already had children around 18, 19 years old … So in anticipation of these ten promising years in all kinds of twists and turns I see in my workshops either from the panicked eyes of parents apprehending adolescence when their children are still small or parents of teenagers who wait for the storm to pass without being too watered …
But contrary to popular belief, adolescence is not a period of immaturity or of an explosion of hormones that can leave the parent stunned by the hairs on the paws of their sons or the lipstick collections of their daughters. ….no no no ! The myths of adolescence are now fading behind all the latest research in neuroscience! Houraaaa!
For years, the books of Doctor Daniel Siegel have been enthroned on my bedside table… He has just published a brilliant book on the adolescent brain and is known worldwide for all his research work on the brain of the adolescent. child through neuroscience. To understand his work simply and in a few words, his pretty metaphor is as follows.
The brain from children up to adolescence gradually builds up billions of neural connections. It’s like a beautiful garden that grows little by little. In adolescence, this garden is a little messy because roses or weeds have grown here and there, fruits have fallen from the trees without being picked up because they are unwanted … In order to transform this garden into an extraordinary garden towards twelve years old, the child’s brain sets up a pruning system. This pruning is necessary and fundamental for the teenager who needs to remodel his brain with what seems to him essential to keep for a better functioning efficiency and also to achieve a certain well-being. It will therefore be built so that its garden “corresponds” to it, drop unnecessary connections and “sync” the remaining ones. Seen from this angle, what a job! This vision of things would almost make our teenagers touching!
Lesson number 1 for the parent: Since this step is essential for this future adult to reach a certain level of well-being, avoid making the child feel that this period is difficult, by making fun of it, by telling him that it is ” the dumb age ”, by systematically entering into power struggles or by disengaging as this would be the best way according to Dr. Siegel to reduce the child’s ability to build healthy brains. For lesson number 2… I will come back in a future letter to all the assets of adolescence that would almost make us as adults want to keep the strength and momentum of the adolescent brain!