Teen brains really are different

In recent years, research has shown how critical the first five years are because of the major brain development. What hasn’t been given as much attention is the importance of the last 5 percent of the brain’s development. This occurs in adolescence and is critical.


Researchers have found that this phase of brain development is critical to things like intelligence, consciousness and self-awareness.


Emotional control, impulse restraint and rational decision-making are all part of the brain development that takes place in adolescence. This is good news and bad news.


As your child does positive things, such as music, school achievement, responsibility and social consciousness, he can be hard-wired into his expanding brain. The other good news is that there still is time to change for the better.


The bad news is that if you have a child who is into negative things, such as rage and alienation, that negative behavior may be hard-wired. This behavior can straighten out in time if adults respond not with raging, hurtful punishments but with carefully crafted responses that will help your brain-challenged child become a well-functioning adult.


Dr. Michael Bradley, author of “Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!”, offers suggestions of ways you, as a parent, can change your behavior to help your teen change his.


• Be aware that this is a time of remarkable change for your teen.


• It isn’t a time to pull away; it is a time to change how you react.


• It isn’t a time to accept that your teen is an adult; he isn’t.


• You still are the major influence in his life.


• He wants you there and on his side.


A parent of a teen who was giving her parents fits called me. She wanted to know what she could do.


I suggested she read Dr. Bradley’s book. She called me back after a couple of weeks to tell me it worked. She didn’t read the book but she set it out where her teen saw it.


Just having the teen see the book helped straighten out some of the negative behavior.


Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers, and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.



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