Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Tween & Teen

Brain Development in Teens

  • Barbara Harvey
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Tween & Teen
When we look at the average 13-15 year old today it is often hard to remember they are not as old as they look. When I was 13, I looked like a grow woman if you looked at me from the neck  down. I have always been admired by older men. However, just because teens look so mature their brains are far from it.
Looking back I can see how I thought I was so mature, but I was always getting in trouble for spouting off at the mouth. I wish my Mom had known about brain development I may have not been grounded near as much. She might have cut me some slack had she known, I was not yet capable of thinking about what I was thinking.
It turns out the teen brain is vastly different from the adult brain. In fact we do not even think from the same part of the brain as a teen. Adults think primarily from the part of the brain called the frontal cortex. Teens ten to use more of the central area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain which is reckless, laid back, and full of angst.  Describe anyone you know.
The teen brain is also different in that it has literally thousands of connections called neuro-connectors. As a matter of fact it is these connectors which prevent the teen brain from being able to use the frontal lobe. As we spoke about last week the pituitary plays a large part in physical development. Part of what this gland does is to cue the brain to start changing a child’s brain into a more mature brain. Thus, the brain begins to develop these neuro-connectors in order to begin the restructuring process. So, much of what is going on in puberty. It turns out the process is a lot more complicated than most of us thought. This week your exercise is to read two articles about the brain development of teens.
  1. This article from the Wall Street Journal breaks things down by age. Remember every child is different. Depending on the skills they acquired in childhood some things may be different with your child. However, children will at one point or another hit all the staged described.
  2. This article in Science News for Students this article is an easier read. I suggest you read it with your teen and discuss the article. Knowledge is power. Reading and having this discussion will not only give you something to share. It will give you both greater knowledge in what is going on beneath the surface.
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