Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Redmum column February 16

Red Mum column Feb 16

Teenagers become dimmer

I READ an article lately that made me laugh out loud and reaffirmed something that has been puzzling me for quite some time now. Apparently due to hormones teenagers really do get dumber. So it is not a figment of parents' imaginations! Thank God for that.

Research carried out by University College London has shown that puberty disturbs teenagers' ability to recognise their parents' emotional state, among other things.

I could have told them that. But it is reassuring that scientific evidence backs this up.

I suppose I knew if I did the research that some academic or scientific-type would provide me with the evidence to back up what is bloody-well apparent in our household.

It explains how there are times when I speak to the Young Wan who seems to lose IQ points as we speak.

Apparently this is because during puberty the brain rewires itself and social intelligence diminishes during this time.

The tests were conducted to find out why boys are 10 times more likely to be autistic than girls and involved three tasks.

These were recognising facial expressions such as fear, anger, sadness and surprise, remembering faces; and telling whether someone is making eye contact with them.

600 children between the ages of 6 and 17 took part in the study performing tasks associated with social intelligence by testing their ability to recognise certain social cues.

All the children were able to remember faces and recognise eye contact but the study also revealed that children find it hard to understand facial expressions.

So between the ages of 14 to 16 for girls and 15 to 17 for boys, teenagers are much less able to recognise the meanings of facial expressions such as fear and anger.

So that explains why when I am absolutely livid with the Young Wan over something and despite the obvious anger she will still try it on.

If my mother fired me one of the looks that she sometimes gets, you can be sure I would be the best child in Ireland, for a while anyway.

Not in our house, that’s an alien concept.

Apparently this dip in intelligence diminishes leaving boys and girls able to respond normally to facial expressions as older teenagers.

But wait a minute this particular phase lasts for two years. That’s a long time, a really long time. There are exams during that time, thankfully none containing tests on facial expressions.

This also explains the three most-used phrases in our house ‘I dunno’, followed by ‘no’ or the shoulder-shrugging ‘harumph’. I still do not know what ‘harumph’

That is a long time particularly when you ask your child a question and they look at you blankly with an expression that is very similar to what cows adopt when looking over hedges. Two to three years of this is torture for parents and I am sure it is no picnic for the afflicted teenager either.

But at least I am not the only parent to notice this and at least if it is a phase then it is a phase that can be grown out of at some point in the future, even if it takes two to three years. *Takes a deep breath.*

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Curly K said...

Ahh, arsey teenagers, you gotta luv 'em! Ever notice how they hang around corners, shops etc. just oozing attitude - sometimes you gotta wish you had their 'I don't give a f*** attitude'.

On the downside of scientific studies, its also been shown that mothers really do 'lose' at least some of their mind sometimes after having a baby. Something to do with chemicals that the growing baby needs for its developing brain. If the mother is not getting adequate amounts, her own supply depletes. So, I guess we are all prone to natural dips in our abilities. Don't you just love mother nature!

PS Don't let the young wan read the last paragraph. She might counter attack you and claim, as arsey teenagers do, that you never got your chemicals back.

Your blogger fans know this is not the case but you know teenagers.....

Phil said...

Now I have an excuse!