Scientists explain why teenagers do not listen to their parents


Many parents know how difficult it can be to get along with their teenage children. Just yesterday, an obedient boy or girl suddenly becomes a “difficult child”.

He is no longer interested in the opinion of his parents, while he begins to spend more and more time with friends. The situation is quite typical and has a scientific explanation.

According to Stanford University researchers, at about 13 years of age, the mother’s voice for the child loses its importance, and the brain begins to switch to other voices. In fact, teenagers really stop listening to their parents. How this happens is described in more detail below.

Scientists have found out why teenagers stop listening to their parents from the age of 13

Why behavior changes during adolescence

In their recent work, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to find a neurobiological explanation for behavioral change in children during adolescence. The study involved both adolescents under the age of 16 and younger children.

All volunteers who took part in the experiment had an IQ of at least 80 and were raised by their biological mothers. None of the children had any neurological or psychiatric disorders.

Children were allowed to listen to the voices of their mothers, as well as unfamiliar women. Nonsensical words were recorded to make sure the participants’ brains did not react to the meaning of the words.

Like younger children, in the vast majority of cases, they accurately recognized the mother’s voice. Additionally, the participants in the experiment were also given to listen to various sounds of household appliances in order to find out how the brain’s reaction to voices and sounds of inanimate objects differs.

Adolescents are more receptive to other people’s voices than their mother’s.

As a result, the team found that at the age of 13 and older, teenagers begin to be more receptive to all outside voices than to the voice of their mother. But the brain of children under 12 works differently – it turned out to be receptive only to the mother’s voice.

How does this happen? According to scientists, the priority of stimuli in the brain is determined by brain centers and reward systems. In adolescents, they are more activated by the voices of strangers than by the voice of the mother.

Moreover, the older the child was, the stronger the reaction of the brain to voices. This connection was so strong that the authors of the work on the reaction of the brain to the voice could determine the age of the child. No difference was seen between boys and girls.

Why teenagers start listening to strangers

The results of the study are consistent with the fact that adolescents do show more interest in different types of social cues. As the authors of the work explain, teenagers themselves do not notice this. They just stay on their own. They make new friends and comrades, and they want to spend time with them.

This is a completely healthy, natural process. As a result of maturation, at some point the child becomes independent.

The changes that occur in the brain help teenagers interact with the world around them, as well as form social bonds. Thus, the teenager adapts to the outside world outside the family.

Changes in the brain of adolescents help them adapt to the world around them outside the family

As for younger children, on the contrary, it is vital for them to listen to their mother as much as possible. After all, the voice of the mother teaches children the social-emotional world, and also contributes to language development.

How does the baby’s brain react to the mother’s voice?

Previously, researchers from Stanford conducted another study that showed that in children aged 12 years and younger, the voice of the mother causes a complex of different reactions at the same time. Moreover, children are able to recognize the voice of their mother with extreme accuracy.

This involves not only those areas of the brain that are responsible for processing sound information, but also a number of other areas, including pleasure centers, areas responsible for emotions, visual information processing centers, as well as areas that determine the priority of incoming information.

An interesting fact is that babies are able to recognize their mother’s voice while still in her womb. As a matter of fact, this is no longer surprising, because, as it became known, the fetus is even capable of crying.

The scientists hope that the results of the study will help to understand what happens in the brains of children with autism and other conditions that affect social incentives.

It is already known that the brains of young children with autism do not respond to the mother’s voice in the same way as the brains of healthy children. Finally, we recall that childhood infections lead to the development of autism.