We are here to help each other
I recently read a description of adolescence as “a period of temporary insanity”. While this might be an over-statement, parents of teenagers may have some sympathy for the sentiment. Your little boy or girl is undergoing the most rapid and intense phase of physical and psychological development that they will ever experience for the rest of their lives. They enter the process as children and emerge as independent adults, and the process is as challenging for them as it is for their parents.
Perhaps no aspect of teenage behaviour causes more anxiety in the minds of parents than their tendency to engage in risky behaviour. Psychology and neuroscience provide us with an explanation for this phenomenon: while the parts of the brain that are responsible for emotional responses and experiencing pleasure are fully developed in teens, the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional regulation and higher-order decision-making (the prefrontal cortex) is very much a work in progress.
We’ve been thinking about risk-taking and impulsivity a bit in the Secondary School recently. As many of you will know, students in Years 10, 11 and 12 listened to Melissa McGuinness and her ‘You Choose’ Youth Road Safety presentation last week in Flex. Melissa bravely shared the emotional and confronting story of how she lost her own son in a car accident that he caused, and also killed 4 other innocent people who were parked on the side of the road. She didn’t attempt to make any excuses for her son, Jordan, who had chosen to drive while under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. Rather, Melissa challenged the students to “Own the Choice, Own the Outcome”, which has become the motto of her organisation.
Of course, this is a message which resonates clearly with the approach to behaviour management that we adopt at St Paul’s. We call it “Choices and Consequences”, and not a week would go by without me and/or the House Leaders having a conversation with one of our students about a decision they made that was not properly thought through.
My own children are all grown up now, with fully-formed brains, so I can afford to relax a little. However, I have a lot of sympathy for those of you who are dealing on a daily basis with the mood-swings, defiance and emotional dramas that can accompany adolescence. I trust you realise that St Paul’s is a community and that you can find support from both staff and fellow-parents in times of need. A couple of excellent sources of information are –
SchoolTV – an online resource designed to empower parents with credible and sound information with realistic, practical ongoing support strategies to help raise happy and resilient young people. Access a wide range of informative videos on the St Paul’s website (under the Parent Resources tab
Parenting Ideas – a monthly newsletter we subscribe to, which also comes with access to occasional webinars. Details about the two latest editions appear elsewhere in eNews.
Mr Nigel Grant
Executive Director of Faith & Community