How do you instill confidence in teenagers

Teenagers think differently

The 16-year-old collapses on the chair in front of your desk, heaves his rucksack next to it, and struggles to peel off his jacket. Now he's hanging there, more than sitting, and his posture and facial expressions signal: “Don't bother me, dude. Let's get it over with. ”Are you familiar with situations like this? This is how a J2 often begins. Young people are just different. Why this is so and how you can build trust and get through to your young patient, explained Dr. med. Bernd Hemming in his practica seminar.

“Our youth is unbearable, irresponsible and horrific to look at.” This seemingly current sentence comes from Aristotle. The fact that adults perceive the behavior of adolescents, especially adolescents in puberty, as impossible and difficult to understand is a phenomenon that runs through all cultures and all ages.

Frontal lobe limps

Why is that? What goes on in the brains of adolescents? The frontal cortex and the limbic system with the amygdala play a decisive role in this, explained Hemming. The latter is responsible for the emotional evaluation of situations (e.g. fear, threat, anger or joy). The frontal frontal lobe is, so to speak, the "sensible" part of the brain that allows its owner to weigh up decisions and plan actions. In this (pre) frontal cortex, ideas and strategies are developed and impulses are controlled: In the amygdala there is a quick and emotional assessment of a situation and in the frontal lobe a rational and weighing one. Since the limbic system and amygdala mature faster than the frontal lobe, adolescents act more spontaneously and follow the first impulse of their feelings. Adults then often perceive this behavior as absolutely brain-cracked. And you are not so wrong with that. Because if you will, teenagers actually have a gap in time between the two brain areas.

The "kick" is more than anything

In addition, the dopamine receptors are reduced in adolescents. Dopamine serves as a mediator of a feeling of reward and leads to an increase in the number of ideas and their critical assessment and evaluation. For example, it is released after a courageous act and provides a good feeling of recognition. With a smaller number of receptors, more pronounced stimuli are required to achieve the same effect. This explains why young people tend to keep looking for new and bigger challenges and are very willing to take risks. Hemming gave an example of this: "While a roller coaster ride with loops and spirals is enough for you, a teenager is still standing in line for the fifth time."

Don't let them be instrumentalized

Puberty is a process of transformation and needs your support, Hemming appealed to the audience. As a rule, blaming the young person for wrongdoing does not do much good. It is better to discuss what went well or to provide tips on how to cope better with situations. Praise should be conveyed immediately. “Don't let parents or educators instrumentalize you,” warned Hemming. That happens very quickly, for example when the mother expects you to read the riot act to the son because of his drinking or smoking habits.

Send parents out?

During the preventive medical checkups J1 (13 to 14 years of age) and J2 (16 to 17 years of age) the dilemma often arises that the parents want to be informed about everything, but the adolescent sometimes refuses. Hemming solves this problem by always asking the young person and the parents or the parent to come into the consulting room first. But then he always speaks to the young person and if mom thinks she has to speak for her child, he asks the teenager expressly to describe the problem himself. When the investigation begins, he asks the parents to wait outside. The young person then has the opportunity to address things that he might not say in front of the parents. Hemming agrees beforehand with him and the parents on "limited confidentiality", i.e. he asks the young person for permission to pass on important things that the parents should know. But he has never seen such serious things reported before.

How do I motivate young people to take precautionary measures?

“How do I get young people to go to preventive care at all,” a colleague wanted to know. “I am offering this examination as a kind of declaration of autonomy,” says Hemming, following the motto: “You are no longer a child and for your age group there is now a very special precaution that is taking place for the first time without parents. It's all about you, your problems or fears, because you are now on the threshold of adulthood and not everything is going so smoothly. "

At the J1, there is often no discussion of any problems. Young people at this age are often very reserved and monosyllabic. But it can create a good basis for future discussions, said Hemming.

Young people's expectations

To find out what expectations young people have of their doctor, Hemming interviewed 25 young people aged 13 (7th grade high school) and 15 years old (9th grade high school). They were asked to indicate how important medical competence is to them on seven different topics. On the subject alcohol The majority of both age groups rated medical competence as very important, also on the subject Smoking and drugs. The topic was also considered to be very important or rather important - also by both groups eating disorder viewed.

What Computer addiction and Piercing / Tattoo As far as is concerned, both age groups agreed that medical competence is not so much in demand here. Apparently, the young people do not trust doctors to have specialist knowledge on these issues or do not see them as a problem. On the subject Sexuality / contraception the age groups were divided. Most of the 13-year-olds considered the topic to be "rather important", the rest split between "very important" and "rather unimportant". In contrast, the vast majority of 15-year-olds rated the topic as “very important”. Here it becomes apparent that sexuality has a significantly higher priority for 15-year-olds than for 13-year-olds, according to Hemming.

Dr. med. Vera Seifert