Generation after generation, one thing parents can count on is being baffled or confused by their children’s behavior. While new generations of teenagers have access to things their parents did not–Google Glass and Apple’s newly announced iWatch could be the smartphones of tomorrow–this does not explain why teenagers, regardless of generation, continue to behave in ways that seem to be clearly irrational.

It turns out that there is a reason for confusing teenage behavior: the brain may not fully develop until around age 25, meaning that teenagers are left with a brain going through growing pains, just like the rest of their body.

Specifically, teens make irrational decisions because their brains are processing thoughts and emotions irrationally.

The good news is that being a teenager doesn’t inherently mean being rude or disrespectful. The bad news is that teenagers are essentially not fully equipped to deal with certain real world problems.

As a parent, understanding this stage in your teen’s development could make the difference in getting through to them. Instead of treating them like they’re out to get you, and ultimately heightening the conflict, speaking to them from a place of sympathy and understanding will work to both parties’ benefit.

If you want to know more about just why the teenage brain is this way, and exactly how it affects judgment, the infographic below should make things clearer.

– Amy Williams