Back in October last year, we held our second Huddl Parent Talk. We heard from two brilliant speakers who talked to us about the changing teenage brain. They shared some of the latest research into this crucial time of life and helped us to understand why our teenagers behave the way they do, so that we are better positioned to help them.
We’ve had some great feedback from parents who have already found that the knowledge and tools they gained from this event have helped them in some way. So we wanted to extend the Huddl by sharing some of the top line learnings.
- 95% of what we know about the brain has been learned in the last 17 years
- The brain is the last organ in your body to mature and it takes until mid to late twenties to complete
- Hormones are only part of what is going on in adolescence
- Adolescence is a specific and uniquely human characteristic
- The teenage brain is still growing, it is work in progress like a giant construction project and will include moments of mayhem, as well as growing precision and passion
- The main changes are in the:
- Cerebral cortex – responsible for logic, spatial reasoning, language
- Frontal lobes – responsible for planning ahead, resisting impulses, “doing the right thing”
- With the following being effected:
- Cerebellum – connected to movement and a wide range of behaviours, including the ability to get jokes and recognise social cues
- Amygdala – in charge of flight or fight reaction is in overdrive in the average adolescent
- Frontal Cortex – causes loss of some social skills, argumentative, over-reacts, tendency to make inappropriate remarks, difficulty grasping the moral of a story, loss of ability to plan ahead and lack of understanding of consequences of their actions
- As the teenage brain is reconfigured, it remains more exposed, more easily wounded, more susceptible to critical and long-lasting damage than ever
- Adolescence may be one of the worst times to expose a brain to drugs and alcohol – or even a steady dose of violent computer games.
- They want to be adults, they’re exposed to an adult culture, but they don’t yet have the prefrontal cortex to regulate those adult behaviours
- Todays teenagers feel under more pressure to be a success at a younger age; to make choices earlier; to grow up faster; to do more..
- The blue screen effect interrupts natural sleep patterns by effecting melatonin production
- Lack of sleep reduces the ability to:
- Communicate by 30%
- Remember facts & figures by 30%
- Make valid judgements by 50%
- Maintain attention by 75%
Huddl Advisor, Dr Rosemary Taylor’s Top Tips:
- Remember: Teenagers are not adults. They may be taller than you but the wiring of their brain is not complete.
- When they shout or sneer, don’t over react. Ten minutes later it will be gone from their heads.
- Show your concern – growing brains need nutrition, they need challenges, they also need love.
- Let them sleep – they need it.
- Keep an eye on their drinking.
- Watch your voice.
- Provide a little foresight. But rather than tell them, help them to think through a situation.
- Let them know that the confusion, uncertainty and swings of emotion are part of growing and changing, not because they have a faulty personality.
We hope you agree that by gaining knowledge earlier we are more prepared to help our children and young people. Join us at our first Huddl Up with Suffolk Mind to learn more about addictive behaviours in children and young people. Find out more here.