Adolescents have dynamic, open, hungry minds. They are creative, brave and curious. It has to be this way.
The only way to learn many of the skills they will need to be strong, healthy adults will be to stretch beyond what they’ve always known and to experiment with the world and their place in it.
The adolescent brain is wired to drive them through this transition, but there will be a few hairpin curves along the way. Skillful drivers are not born from straight roads.
There will be good days, great days and dreadful days.
Adolescence is something they have to do on their own. We can guide them, but we can’t do it for them.
This is their time for growth and learning, but there is something powerful we can do to help them along the way. We can give them the information they need to light their way forward.
Our teens are amazing. Their brains are on fire – powerful, creative, insightful. Here’s what they need to know.
- Your brain is changing. But you have enormous capacity to influence those changes. You’re transitioning into adulthood. There’s no hurry to do this – you’ll have plenty of time. Your adult brain won’t be fully developed until you’re about 24. In the meantime, it’s your time to learn, experience and experiment with the world and your place in it.
- Your brain is like a high-performance sports car but your brakes aren’t ready yet. Your brain will wire and strengthen from the back to the front. One of the first parts of the brain to develop is the amygdala, which is involved in instinctive, impulsive, emotional, aggressive reactions. It’s great for keeping you alive if there’s trouble, but not always great when it comes to making balanced decisions.
- Hello hormones! (But your brain will take time to adjust.) You’ve probably heard a lot of people blaming hormones for the things adolescents do that aren’t so lovable. It’s not so much your hormones that cause trouble but the way your brain reacts to them.
- Your brain is like an open window. Expose it to good and it will thrive. Expose it to bad and that window will slam shut.
All new skills take time to master. It’s no different for our teens. In the meantime, they might wobble. A lot.
We are learning to see them in a different light – as soon-to-be adults who will be independent of us. We are learning to trust their capacity to cope, and to stand back and let them steady themselves.
They have it in them to be extraordinary. The more information they have, the more potential they have to find the most direct way there.
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Pass it on: New Scientist