Teens are drawn to new and exciting experiences. They want to be free and do things on their own. Chemical changes in the brain motivate teens to look for risks and challenges. This is normal. But, the part of the brain that helps teens assess risk and control impulses is still growing. This means that teens may not think about the consequences of their actions.
Teens need your help to think through the outcomes of their decisions. Teens also need practice in making decisions. You can provide chances to share responsibility, to make decisions, and to weigh the pros and cons of different types of choices. This will help your teen develop good judgment.
• Help your teen take positive risks, like trying out for a new sport, making new friends, or visiting new places.
This will build confidence and self control.
• Let your teen decide what, when, and how to do things. This will help your teen become a leader.
Community service projects, summer jobs, and after school programs are good for the brain!
• Get to know your teen’s friends. Together, set rules on how often your teen should check in with you.
Say that you want to know what she or he is doing, where, and with whom. This builds trust between you.
• Work together to set rules and agree on curfews. Together, decide what will happen if your teen breaks the
rules. Listen to what she or he wants. Talk about what you want for your teen.
Boys and Girls Brains Really are Different!
Male and female brains are different. Some of these differences are happening during puberty due to hormones that affect how the teen brain develops. The female brain matures earlier than the male brain. Some areas of the brain become larger in females while other areas grow larger in the male brain. Differences in the male and female brain may help to explain different patterns in learning and behavior between boys and girls; therefore:
• Provide opportunities for all-boy and all-girl activities to take advantage of gender-based learning
patterns and interests.
• Learn about the differences between boys’ and girls’ brains and how gender can influence their
educational needs, such as extra support for learning certain skills and subjects.
• Model healthy relationship. Provide lots of opportunities for boys and girls to practice healthy
relationship skills including communication, negotiation, and problem-solving.
For parents who want to learn more about the amazing teen brain, go to: http://www.instituteforsafefamilies.org