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Understanding the Adolescent Brain

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The adolescent brain is continually evolving, making new connections and will continue to do so until the child reaches their early 20’s. Teenagers are often moody, show lack of judgment and can be unreasonable, especially during stressful times. Their unpredictable behavior can be hard for parents to deal with.  A parent may be asking themselves, “What happened to my sweet, great kid?”

Scientists using cutting-edge research using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, have mapped brain changes for kids ages 5 to 20, and determined that their baffling behavior is primarily due to changes in neurobiology rather than hormone changes.  The frontal lobe, responsible for judgment, organization, planning, and strategizing, is the last part of the brain to develop. This is why many teenagers struggle with Executive Functioning in school.

Research has determined that children’s brains prune themselves of neurons that aren’t being used and cells and connections that are used will survive and flourish. This goes along with the theory “use it, or lose it.”

For parents navigating this new phase with their teen, it can be frustrating. Some good advice to remember is this is part of their normal development; try and be available for them and give them their privacy. Don’t allow them to be disrespectful and set limits for them.  Even though their brains are developing and they are maturing, they still need  boundaries.

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