Parade Magazine this Sunday told readers, who we assume included a lot of frustrated parents, the ins-and-outs of the brains of teenagers.
It’s not just hormones that account for the moodiness, cluelessness and sleepiness of teens. It’s what’s in their noggins. The takeaway from the story is that PET scans and fMRI tests have shown that the brains of teenagers are much different than those of adults.
The brains of youths are still developing, and are works in progress. The skills a child or pre-teen starts, and continues to practice as a teen, are the ones that their brains will continue to develop. And those that one avoids, or rarely does, will fall by the wayside. So it’s a smart idea for teens to establish good work practices during this period, as those aptitudes will follow them the rest of their lives.
Secondly, teenagers don’t have fully developed frontal lobes, or a developed prefrontal cortex. In fact, the prefrontal cortex doesn’t fully form until someone is in their late 20s. And this part of the brain governs controlling impulses and making plans. So your teen does have an excuse for some of his or her foolish behavior.
And according to the Parade article, the brains of teenagers are “physically programmed to stay up later and sleep later.” These kids also need more sleep than adults, up to 9.2 hours compared with 7.5 to 8 hours for adults.
So don’t be so tough when Sally doesn’t want to rise and shine, or when Billy’s teacher calls to complain that he’s falling asleep in morning math class.
Parade also offers some “Stay Sane” tips about how to deal with your teenager.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.