You may have heard me, and some other moms of teens, joke about the “Brain Dead” Stage. Let me tell you what happens sometime between age 11 and 15…
YES, at our house we joke about the “Brain Dead” stage. It’s very real and happens even to the best behaved kids.
Of course they are not brain dead, but they sure act like it. There is a phase where kids CAN NOT follow instructions, CAN NOT make plans, CAN NOT think logically, CAN NOT answer normal questions in a normal way, CAN NOT see how what they do now will impact the future. They can not manage time. They can not have a reasonable conversation. They can not answer the question, “WHY did you do that?” They can not answer “What do you want to do?” Sometimes they are like “Whatever!” and show some disrespect out of nowhere.
The may lose interest in the things they once loved, and seem aimless. They tend to really love music at this stage. It’s like the only thing that makes sense. They might just want to crawl in a hole with piles of novels, or get lost in Minecraft like they are never coming out.
There is usually one thing that they hang onto. They tend to get really good at one thing in this time. Sometimes they find their life passion or discover God in this time. It’s a time of disconnection and refocus. It lasts 2 months to 2 years. If they get addicted to anything during this time, they may just stay in the “Brain Dead” stage for much too long, and not come out of it until they have their own kids. My kids usually stay in this stage for about 4 months. I try to help them make use of the gift of time to find their passion in it.
There is science to all of this. It’s a pruning process the brain goes through when kids lose the childhood brain connections and develop the grown-up ones. The transition from childish thinking to adult thinking is not a process that happens slowly over time. It is rapid–but to get there they have to go through an intense period of brain pruning and the death of all the childish brain connections that are not needed for adulthood, and then all those adult thinking connections start to form. Tools like our newest journal, Lost & Found: Art & Logic Therapy Brain Games can help especially during this time.
Take heart! Pay attention to the process, provide support and guidance, tie a knot, and hang on! It’s going to be okay.
Continue to How Your Child Thinks: Visual Thinkers (Part 2).