The Teen Brain is Under Construction: 5 Tips to Help Parents Get Their Teens Through Adolescence

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Posted January 30th, 2013

The teen brain is mysterious. Parents often stand in disbelief as their teen’s behavior fluctuates from acting like a 22 year old one second to a 2 year old the next.  Believe it or not, this is actually normal behavior.  The teen brain is still under construction and differs greatly from an adult’s in the way it makes decisions and solves problems.

There are three main areas of the brain that are struggling to grow, interact, connect and develop during the teen years.  These three areas of the brain make up the pre-frontal lobes.  The pre-frontal lobes regulate logic, common sense, judgment, reality, and problem solving.  All of these skills are part of the journey that will continue until the mid-twenties when hopefully the brain becomes fully developed as an “adult brain.”

A perfect example of a teen brain under construction is 21 year old Manti Te’o!  Spoken like a true parent, Manti’s dad, said on Katie Couric’s show, “he’s not a liar; he’s a kid.”   Until a teen’s brain is fully developed they will struggle to develop mature problem solving skills and will make bad decisions.  Due to hormone surges there are a lot of emotional mood swings and struggles with sorting reality from fiction.

It may not always be easy, but a parent is still the biggest influence in a teen’s life and does not have to stand idly by. Parent Action for Healthy Kids offers these 5 tips for parents to help their teens make healthy choices while their brains are still under construction:

1.  Provide lots of physical contact, from hugs to rough housing;
2. Speak and show love as much as possible;
3. Constantly nurture by protecting, supporting and encouraging;
4. Communicate clearly without yelling and lecturing;
5. Allow teens to face logical consequences whenever possible.

Parents who would like to gain more knowledge about the adolescent brain, as it relates to sexual behavior and decision making, are invited to register for the Talk Early & Talk Often℠ Parent Connection Conference. The conference is being held on March 2, 2013 in Livonia, Michigan for parents of middle and high school aged youth. The keynote address, The Adolescent Brain: Under Construction, will humorously explore the mysteries of the adolescent brain. This conference will be the first ever sex education conference exclusively for parents. For additional information and to register, visit www.parentactionforhealthykids.org.

Be sure to use the hashtag #TPCC2013 when tweeting about the conference, or when looking for tweets about the conference.

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