How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but only if it really wants to change.
Before age 12, children have a concrete thinking pattern. They believe that things are the way they superficially perceive them. There isn’t much depth to their thinking. Pre-teenager thinking is rule based. If you see a ten-year-old who is throwing stones against the window and you say, “Don’t throw stones against the window,” he would ask, “why?” If you say, “We have a rule here, to not throw stones against the window.” and he say, “Okay” and not throw stones against the window. Children tend to follow rules because their thinking is organized around rules.
Pre-teenage children are also oriented toward their families. A child feels at home and protected in a bubble that includes their mother and father and siblings. They are aware that there is a world outside that bubble, including their school, their town and maybe their country, but children’s emotional concerns are mostly with their mother and father and siblings.
During the adolescent years, youth get two “brain upgrades.” I use the word “upgrade” because it is almost like what happens with a computer when the Pentium Processor is upgraded with a faster one. The difference with teenagers, is that the upgrades do not happen suddenly. They occur gradually in fits and starts over a period of time. One major brain upgrade occurs at age twelve and another major brain upgrade occurs at age sixteen.
Copyright 2010, Henry Doenlen, M.D. All rights reserved.