How Your Teen’s Past is Affecting His Actions Today?
It is no secret that most teenagers tend to act out in order to prove their independence and show you they don’t need you. However, that is not always the case. While some bad teenage behavior is due to the normal effects of the hormones running rampant during the adolescent years, some of it has a much deeper root. These are called triggers, and they likely formed within your teenager years ago.
What Are Teenage Triggers?
In short, a trigger is a scar on the brain. Not a physical scar, but an emotional one. It is when a person’s actions have nothing to do with the present, but instead, are due to something that happened many years ago. Sometimes these triggers are caused by the loss of a parent, a divorce, or abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual). However, even someone that had a seemingly perfect childhood may be scarred by something that was said to him by a parent or a peer.
Oftentimes, the individual cannot pinpoint what the trigger was, but he absolutely remembers the way it made him feel. And this feeling has changed the way he reacts to certain situations. It is essentially a defense mechanism to prevent him from ever feeling these emotions again. The tricky part is, he doesn’t even realize he is doing it. It is programmed into his subconscious.
Why Do Triggers Matter?
As you can probably guess, these triggers can be detrimental to a child’s development. Instead of being okay with experiencing all of the emotions that life has to offer, he puts up walls and comes up with responses that will protect him. He will do anything and everything necessary, even if it is beyond reason.
So what happens to a kid who is never willing to listen to other opinions because he is afraid of looking stupid? He will go out of his way to prove he is right in everything he does. He will have a hard time forming any kind of two-way relationships, he will likely be resented by his peers, and he may even do harmful or illegal things to prove to others that he is, in fact, not stupid at all. And that is just one example. There are countless triggers that can cause all kinds of reactions.
What Can I Do About It?
First and foremost, you need to realize that everything you say to your teenager carries tremendous clout. It may seem like an off-the-cuff comment to you, but to your teen, it may alter his entire life’s course. Yes, it is a lot of pressure, and it should be taken seriously. Try not to put your teen down and always think before you speak. Now, a slip up every once in a while will likely not have any long-term effects, but if you are repeatedly saying the same negative thing, it will make an impact.
Additionally, you might want to consider having your teen see a trained therapist. If he seems to be acting out for no reason, and he can’t even tell you why he does the things he does, then there is a good chance a trigger is to blame. A therapist maybe be able to get to the root of the issue, and help him retrain his brain to act differently going forward.
It won’t be an instantaneous process, and there will absolutely be a learning curve, but oftentimes, just realizing that your teen is not 100% to blame for his actions can make a world of difference for both of you.