If you feel you need to be infused into every aspect of your middle school or high school student’s life, I have a question for you.
Why? What outcome are you hoping for?
I understand that you want to make sure all goes well for your child. However, being overly involved means your child loses out on valuable opportunities to face challenges and learn from them.
Changes in their brain are incredibly significant!
These are such important growth years for your child. Certainly, you notice the physical changes that are happening, but what is going on in their brain is also incredibly significant. New brain pathways are being formed with every thought or action that your child experiences. This happens all of the time in all of our brains, but during the adolescent years brain development is at a peak.
The decision-making pathways usually begin when an idea pops into their head. Then a response is sent via nerve pathways to another part of the brain to carry that idea out. If their idea goes well, a positive memory is stored for them. If it does not go well, a negative memory is stored as a reminder not to do that next time or at least try to do it a different way.
Help your child build positive pathways
So how can you help your child’s brain build pathways with good outcomes?
- Rather than telling your child what to do, ask them their opinion about what to do. This challenges them to reason and not just react. Ask questions and push them to think through their answers.
- When they ask you a question, respond with another question that will lead them to their own answer.
- When they make a choice that you don’t approve of, rather than reacting negatively to the choice, ask questions. Help them to come to their own conclusion that they made a poor choice.
These suggestions are going to take extra time on your part, but it’s completely worth it! This process will support your goal of raising a mature young adult who has the mental tools to make good choices when they are on their own.
The simple answer is for your opinion to be less obvious and the outcome of their choices more obvious. Be partners with your child’s brain to build positive pathways for their future.