Kids and teenagers exist in time, which means they’re almost never outside of time. When you’re in time you care about what’s happening in front of you and the part of the brain that actually thinks about where you are relative to time is just either not there or not yet developed. This means when our kids are eating their cereal, playing on their iPad or with their Lego in the morning thinking they have a few minutes left, and we are trying to factor in morning traffic frustrated with why they aren’t ready to go, none of that is happening for them. Instead they are existing in that very moment with whatever it is they are doing.
As they grow up and get older that frontal lobe the part of the brain that can motivate, shift attention and take perspective basically the higher order of thinking that moves us through the day and shifts us from one thing to the next develops albeit quicker for some than others.
So important thing to remember is that children are not mini adults. When they’re really little we regulate for them. When they’re a little bit older, we co-regulate with them. When they get even older, we are regulating from the sidelines a little bit, offering guidance and helping them as they figure out how to do it on their own. Finally when their own frontal lobe is fully developed they will regulate for themselves.
Knowing this information helps us to understand why when we’ve told them once, they don’t just do it.
It all comes back to the fact that we are really not parents, we are actually a substitute frontal lobe for our kids who are providing that brain function for them until they’re able to do it on their own.