EPIC Blog: Understanding Teenagers - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: Understanding Teenagers

June 13th, 2022 l Author: Hailey Beard, M.A. (edited by Michele Rogan)

he teenage years often carry a lot of change. There’s a great deal of learning, growing, and exploring as a young individual develops into their adult years. This stage in life can bring a lot of challenges for someone who has been though trauma, especially if they spent time in foster care. In order to productively care for teenagers, it’s important to understand how this trauma can affect the brain.


“Fight or flight” is a common phrase that refers to a person’s instinctual reaction or response to a difficult situation, and when the brain of a teen has gone through trauma, their ability to push through a difficult situation in a positive way is often hindered. This tends to result in outbursts or potential aggression. Any reminder of the trauma this teen experienced will create a roadblock in their thinking, hindering any logic or reason to actively fight mental battles. Regulating emotions can be hard for a teen, as their brain may have developed differently due to lack of connection or often times neglect as a child.


Here are three things you can do as a caregiver of a teen to ease some stress and hopefully lead to progress in their healing journey:


1. Understand – Truly understanding and learning about the trauma that impacted a teen’s life will allow you to grasp the reactions he or she may be having. Knowing what their brain has been through is a great first step.

2. Connect and Listen – Both verbal and non-verbal communication can be crucial when trying to understand a teen and their needs. Try to dig through their words and signals to figure out what they are really trying to tell you, or what they may be having a hard time saying.

3. Empower their Choices – Teenagers want a sense of independence. They are ready to be adults and want the power to make their own decisions, so it’s okay to allow that at times. Though they might not end up making the best decision, failing in a safe environment with you is a great way for them to learn and develop trust with you as a caregiver.


Let’s face it, being a teenager is hard! Through finding an identify, fitting it with a group of friends, school, and a whole variety of emotions, teenagers need to feel safe, loved, and understood through it all. When navigating the challenges that come with caring for a teen, remember that it’s important to connect and empower their choices daily. Embrace this unique time in their life with compassion and understanding.

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” – Mark 12:33