The James Dean Syndrome

Teenagers are so misunderstood. They are angry and frustrated; they are uncommunicative and surly, combative and intentionally dense. All of this is true.

Comedian Bill Cosby once said, “My parents never smiled … because I had brain damage. My wife and I don’t smile because our children are loaded with it. Oh, my parents smile now, whenever they come over to the house and see how much trouble I’m having. Oh, they have a ball! ‘Havin’ a li’l trouble, huh, son?’”

Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Teen Angst

And, in the words of the immortal James Dean, “I think the one thing this picture shows that’s new is the psychological disproportion of the kids’ demands on the parents. Parents are often at fault, but the kids have some work to do, too. But you can’t show some far off idyllic conception of behavior if you want the kids to come and see the picture. You’ve got to show what it’s really like, and try to reach them on their own grounds.”

Even James Dean, proverbial portrayer of the consummate troubled teen, knew that a teen’s tendency toward anger was often the result of simple teenage angst. He also knew that where the anger comes from makes little difference if adults and teens can’t bridge the gap that keeps both sides from overcoming the issues that cause the angry teen to boil over.

The fact is that anger is a somewhat cumulative emotion, especially when you lack the resources or the skills to diffuse what bothers you. Just like adults, teens can explode. What makes the teen explosion deeply troubling is that teens have trouble finding control again once they’ve lost it, and, when teens explode, they often do more damage to themselves than others.

Learn more about teen angst and how to help your child control and manage their anger >>


Hooked on Energy Drinks? Experts Warn of Serious Risks

If a growing number of experts and advocates get their way, it may become a bit more difficult for American teenagers to party like a “Rockstar.”

In the aftermath of a Johns Hopkins University study that questions the safety of caffeine-rich energy drinks such Rockstar, Red Bull, and Monster, 99 drug abuse and addiction experts have signed a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requesting mandatory warning labels and restrictions on the manner in which these products are marketed.

The study was published on the ScienceDirect website and in the September 2008 edition of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Both the letter and the study were authored by Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor of behavioral science and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Too Much Caffeine
Energy drinks have been the subject of considerable concern as their popularity has soared in recent years, particularly in regard to their widespread consumption by adolescents and teenagers. Griffiths and the 98 other experts who signed the FDA letter are especially concerned about the amount of caffeine contained in these drinks, and the effect that that drug may be having on young consumers.

Read more about the dangerous levels of caffeine and other negative side effects of energy drinks >>