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The Teenage Brain

teenageTeenagers seem smarter, faster, and stronger is many ways, but their brains have yet to be fully developed.[1] This is often seen in their over-confident, risk-taking, teenaged behavior.1

The frontal lobes—the executive part of the brain responsible for weighing choices, considering consequences, assessing probability, and making decisions—has less myelin on them compared to adult brains.1 This means that teenagers do not access their frontal lobes as frequently as adults do.1 Instead, during these years, teens’ brains are wired to seek out thrills, take a dare, and convince themselves that nothing bad will happen to them.1

Brian was 18 years old. He was ready to take on the world and could do no wrong—at least he thought.1 A smart kid, he knew it all. He didn’t need his parents’ rules and advice. “I know, I know,” he’d say.

His parents were good, loving people. They warned him, advised him, and set boundaries.1 Still, Brian took his new BMW out, speeding along with his friends, blaring music. Flooring it for a thrill, only braking slightly for a drag.1 Teenaged kids doing teenaged things. The thought of consequences were furthest from their minds.1

A car pulled out in front of Brian, and going too fast to stop, he hit it. Ambulance sirens, Jaws of Life, emergency room doctors.1 Thankfully, they were all okay.

This is every parent’s worst nightmare.1 Smart, responsible teens daring each other to do stupid, irresponsible things.1 Without a fully developed brain, they truly believe nothing can hurt them.1 Their idea of fun can sometimes seem quite skewed. They’re testing the waters and feeling out their freedom.

Still, teenagers are kids. No matter how bright they are, they don’t understand consequences and they can’t weigh their choices, assessing probability well.1 Only time and life experiences will guide them into mature adulthood.1 If you have an alien who has morphed out of your considerate, caring, and well-mannered kid, this is only normal.1 They’ll morph back in a few years.

Many teenagers are extremely intelligent and are fully equipped with the skills and self-confidence to survive this time of great change.1 They have aged out of childhood, yet are still transitioning to the social roles, decision-making, and responsibility of adulthood.1 It is important for adults to understand that although teens may look and talk like an adult, they still are not an adult.1 They are still growing and learning.1 Their brains will continue to develop—it just takes time.1



[1] Sapadin, L. (2013). The Teenage Brain: Still Under Construction. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/10/20/the-teenage-brain-still-under-construction/

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