Why teenagers stop listening when your criticise them

The teen brain shuts down when you criticise it. If you follow Andrew Fuller, the author of Tricky Teens, you already know this, but sometimes it is helpful to get additional support information about why this happens.

Andrew Fuller, the author of Tricky Teens, has some excellent suggestions for parents on how to communicate successfully with teenagers.In a post for wired.com headlined ‘The Teen Brain Shuts Down When It Hears Mom’s Criticism’, Christian Jarrett discusses the results of a study conducted by the universities  of Pittsburgh, California-Berkeley and Harvard, led by Kyung Hwa Lee, which invited 32 healthy pre-teens and teens – average age 14 and including 22 girls – into their brain imaging lab. The adolescents lay in the scanner as they listened to two 30-second clips of their own mother criticizing them. The main takeaway message from the study is that when listening to Mums’ criticism, and for a period afterwards, the teens’ brains showed more activity in areas involved in negative emotions (no surprise there), but they also showed reduced activity in regions involved in emotional control and in taking other people’s point of view.

In addition to Christian Jarrett’s article, you can pick up some tips from Andrew Fuller in this video clip about how NOT to talk to teenagers. Amongst those tips – don’t be a martyr; it’s not helpful for them or you.

Right: Psychologist Andrew Fuller, the author of Tricky Teens, has some excellent suggestions for parents on how to communicate successfully with teenagers.