Teen – July 2008

Are my teen’s attitude and behavior normal?

A new website by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers insight into understanding why adolescents think and act the way they do.

When thinking about your teen, have you ever wondered: “Who is this kid?” or “Why does my teen do that?” or “What can I do?”
From mood swings to risk-taking, “normal teenage behavior” can appear to be anything but normal. However, new research reveals that patterns of brain development during these formative years play a significant role in shaping your teen’s personality and actions.
For instance:
Scientific evidence reveals that the brain is fully mature at about age 25—much later than previously believed.
One of the last areas of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for processing information, making judgments, controlling impulses, and foreseeing consequences.

These discoveries about adolescent brain development have opened up fresh ways of thinking about teen behavior, and offer new insight into how parents can help teens understand the risks of drugs and alcohol. This new information throws into stark relief the major risks of teenage substance use, including the possibility of causing permanent neurological damage to the developing brain.

But how do you apply these findings to real life?
Take some time to visit A Parent’s Guide to the Teen Brain, at www.drugfree.org/teenbrain. Developed by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America along with the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia and the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston, this website offers an entertaining and compelling mix of media—all designed to help you connect with your teen. Through video, interactive segments, scenario-based role-playing experiences, expert advice, and practical tips, A Parent’s Guide to the Teen Brain illustrates the links between teen behavior and the big changes happening in their brains. And, in doing so, the website offers the keys to keeping your own perspective while guiding your teenager more effectively through this tumultuous time of life. BC

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