The Teen Brain is a Work in Progress. That’s Good News.

As the parent of a teenager, you doubtless feel frustrated sometimes. You may be vexed by how much your son or daughter procrastinates. You may worry about their lack of organization. You may lament their lack of impulse control.

Well, here’s some good news. The way your teenage son or daughter acts today isn’t how they’re going to act forever. Teens are very much works in progress — and we don’t mean that in some esoteric way. In the most literal and physiological sense possible, your teenager is still developing.

What Science Says About Teen Brains

That’s not what scientists used to think. There used to be a widely held belief that the human brain was fully gestated around age five or six. Now, researchers have changed their tune. They say the human brain keeps growing and changing well into adulthood — and that some of the most significant changes happen in those crucial adolescent years.

There are a number of implications to consider in light of this updated perspective. Teenagers develop a lot of new thinking skills as their brains become increasingly connected — which is why adolescence tends to bring some intellectual development. Adolescence is also the period when the brain connects emotional responsivity to sensory input — which is why your teen may seem so deeply, dramatically emotional sometimes!

At an anatomical level, it is important to understand the role of the pre-frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that controls things like the ability to organize, plan, and use memory. But this part of the brain is not fully developed in teenagers — and their behavior can sometimes reflect that. (Yeah, no kidding, you’re probably saying.)

Teachable Moments

But what does this mean for you as a parent? It means there’s a great opportunity for you to teach and train your kids, taking advantage of those still-developing brains by guiding them through healthy decision making.

No, it won’t always be fun. Your teen will probably still be sullen and moody. But the fact that their brains are still cooking means that they can still be molded a little bit. It means that you can invest in teachable moments to hardwire some smart habits into your teens.

Tutoring can play a big role in their cognitive and intellectual development. In fact, engaging in a formalized tutoring program while their brain is still malleable can be one of the best ways for teens to develop some good analytic thinking and problem-solving abilities. This won’t just help them in school; it can condition them to be more prudent and practical for the rest of their lives.

Your teen is a work in progress — and there are things you can do to ensure they grow and develop in the right ways. Contact Crafting Scholars to find out more!