The Teen Brain: Under Construction
Did you know the adolescent brain is still developing until around the age of 25? It’s true. In fact, the last part of the teen brain to develop is the Prefrontal Cortex – the area that controls reasoning and impulses.
Do any of these sound like your teen?
- difficulty holding back or controlling emotions
- a preference for physical activity
- a preference for high excitement and low effort activities (video games, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll)
- poor planning and judgment (rarely thinking of negative consequences)
- more risky, impulsive behaviors, including experimenting with drugs and alcohol
Unfortunately, developing brains may be more prone to damage. This means that experimentation with drugs and alcohol can have lasting, harmful effects on your teen’s health. For example, research shows that alcohol abuse during the teenage years negatively impacts the memory center of the brain (the hippocampus).
So what’s a parent to do?
Regardless of whether you think your teen is or isn’t already engaging in risky behaviors, you are still one of the most powerful influences on your teens’ decisions.
A few tips to help you and your teen (and their under-construction brain):
- Keep the lines of communication open
- Set clear limits
- Be directly involved in his or her everyday world
- Encourage healthy risk taking and constructive activities – like athletics, arts, and volunteering
We know that families need to develop parenting strategies that work for them and that parenting teens isn’t easy – we hope that we can help make it a little easier.
For more information on the teen brain visit: teenbrain.drugfree.org