No question 10 years ago and no question now that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were both severely mentally unstable teenagers. New perspectives on this horrifying tragedy are emerging. My only hope with any new information the parenting community does get is that all parents try to remember these three points:
#1 Learn what drives your kids behaviors at this age.
#2 Be ready to help your teenagers understand themselves better.
#3 Don’t be afraid to be involved with your teens on every level even when they object!
Teens and toddlers are so much alike it is scary.
Toddlers are like a bull in a china shop, constantly getting into trouble as they experiment with risky behavior on a daily basis. They do behaviors that are dangerous all the time, like running out into the street just because they think it looks fun, so they do it! Young kids are literally driven by their brains to do behaviors that will stimulate their brains. Their actions help their brains grow and this gets them ready to learn in school. So what whatever they think or feel they do without any regard for consequences, because they need to build the branches of their brain!
Teen’s behaviors are based on their brain development too. Only difference is teen’s brains are actually slowing down instead of going full speed ahead like a toddlers. As the teens brain begins to prune itself in order to keep learning it needs stimulation. For example, one of the best ways to stimulate anyone’s brain, young or old is through music. We encourage parents to have their toddlers listen to music to build brainpower. That is the same reason teens listen to music constantly, whether parents think their choice of music is appropriate or not doesn’t seem to matter, because that is how powerful the drive is to stimulate their brains. The ‘rush’ to stimulate a slowing brain becomes overwhelmingly necessary to teens.
Knowing all this can help us make sense out of seemingly senseless behaviors we see in teens. If a toddler runs out into the street and gets hit by a car, no one is their right mind would say they deserved it because they did a dangerous behavior. Or say, they should of known better! We understand that that their brain driven behavior was responsible. And more importantly after this tragedy happened all parents would understand the necessity of teaching toddlers not to run into the street.
We need to apply the same logic to teens. When tragedy strikes don’t point fingers, just remember the brain biology of teens and the importance of education for prevention of tragedy. With prayers for all the losses Columbine, Colorado endured, Dr. Ann
P.S. Look for Dr. Ann in Oregon at The Dalles Wahtonka High School on April 28th talking about this very subject from 6:30-8:30p.m. Entitled, “What’s This Alien Thing called Adolescence? Contact Debby Jones for more information at (541) 506-2673.