The Adolescent Brain and Dealing with Adolescents

by Dr. Linda Johnston, Clinical Psychologist

No one would disagree that teens have many more challenges today than did their parents or grandparents – in general, that is. I don’t think I need to list the challenges faced by teens today.

As if it isn’t enough that they have all these complex and competing challenges to face during a time when they are typically trying to figure out who they are, trying to develop some sort of decent sense of self, and are filled with self-consciousness and self-doubt, the development going on inside their brain really doesn’t help. During the mid to late teens years, massive development is ongoing in the frontal lobe for teens. This means that not only are their sense of decision-making and their sense of social appropriateness impaired, but, as parents, lessons we assume have been well learned are now up for question. We cannot assume that all that good basic judgment we have seen develop is accessible in this rather critical stage.  These research results are good in that we can try to be compassionate and realize that the adolescent brain is in major re-development and we can’t expect things to be smooth or a steady upward climb. We can try to be patient and understanding. But at the same time it is quite anxiety-inducing to see an adolescent make some very poor judgment which could not only create serious risk for their owp>personal safety, but for those with them and influenced by them as well.

I am currently examining some books that act as a sequel to the original book – books that hopefully help parents of teens (that might even cover the HOW TO’s?). I will check again after reading Daniel Seigel’s book and Jensen and Elllis Nutt to update.