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Brain Growth and Development in Teenagers

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Brain growth and development is usually at the peak during the early childhood years of a person. According to studies conducted on children and brain development, most people attain about 90 – 95% brain growth by the time they are about 6 years. However, this does not mean that early childhood years are the end of brain development; a lot of development and remodeling is still needed before a person’s brain starts functioning fully as that of an adult. Most of the development and remodeling occurs during teenage years, where there are a lot of hormonal changes that are accompanied by significant physical and emotional growth.

Brain development during teen years

Teenage years are an important stage in your child’s life, as it is during this period that a significant brain growth and development occurs. During this stage, the unused neural pathway connections are eliminated while those that are used regularly are strengthened. This remodeling process, which is commonly referred to as the “use-it-or-lose-it” system is an important part in the development of the brain, as it helps to make the brain more efficient.

The process begins at the back part of the brain, with the front part, the prefrontal cortex being remodeled last. Since the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is involved in decision making, kids in teenage years rely heavily on amygdala when making decisions or solving problems. According to scientific research on children and brain development, the amygdala is associated with emotions, aggression and impulses, which explains why most teenagers tend to be impulsive, emotional, and illogical when making decisions and solving problems.

Have a look at this video to know more about brain development in teenagers:

Promoting healthy brain development during adolescent

The process of brain growth and development has a very huge impact on the life of your kid. Most of the skills that are attained during this stage, such as mental skills are hard-wired into the brain, and they are useful even in adulthood. As a parent, it is therefore important to make sure that your kid enjoys a healthy brain growth and development. Below are some of the ways you can be able to achieve this.

1) Making sure your kids spend their time well

During teenage years, the way your teen spends his/her time has a lot of influence on their brain growth and development. Typical teenagers engage in a range of interests and activities such as music, sports, video games, reading, and many others, which help to shape how their brain develops. You should therefore positively influence and guide the choice of your child’s activities and interests to ensure that they spend their time well. In addition, you should be supportive and appreciative of their interests.

2) Setting boundaries

When kids are growing up, their brain development is influenced by various experiences that they are exposed to. During teenage years, most people tend to have a higher level of curiosity, which can help them develop a sense of independence. However, as a parent, you should ensure that you provide guidance and set a limit to their independence. This will help to ensure that they develop great decision making and problem solving skills, and at the same time, the understanding that their decisions have consequences.

3) Promoting mental skills

The accelerated brain development and remodeling that occurs during the teenage years can help your kid to think more logically, view things in a more abstract manner, identify and understand other people’s emotion, develop greater problem solving skills, and gain a better perspective on life. However, these skills must be nurtured carefully for them to fully develop. It is therefore your duty as a parent to ensure that you help to promote the growth of mental skills in your child.

Some ideas:

  • Encouraging your kid to express their feelings positively and at the same time, be sensitive to those of the other people
  • Helping your kid to realize that there are consequences for every action
  • Fostering interest in reading, arts, music, languages, and other creative activities
  • Helping your kids to develop decision making and problem solving skills by providing in their day-to-day lives

4) Ensuring that your kid takes healthy risks

According to studies, the increased production of hormones in the body of teenagers has the effect of leading to risky and impulsive behavior. In addition, the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making, self-control, and decision making is developed and remodeled last. As a result, most teens tend to engage in risky and sensational new experiences that will provide them with a rush. As a parent, you should understand that your teenager will seek out new experiences so you can help to ensure that they only engage in activities whose risks are healthy, for example sports. This will help them to develop important mental skills without putting their lives in danger.

5) Making sure they have adequate rest

During teenage years, the brain increases the production of melatonin, a hormone that is tasked with regulating the sleep cycles. As a result, your kid will tend to feel more tired and sleepier. In addition, most teenagers engage in lots of activities such as sports and dancing, which are physically intensive. The resulting tiredness can take a toll on their brain, affecting their ability to focus, think logically, make decisions, and solve problems. As a parent, you should therefore encourage your kid to have adequate rest and sleep, and maintain regular sleep routines.

Conclusion

While the brain continues to grow and develop through various stages of life, a significant leap in development is made during teenage years. During this stage, the brain develops at an accelerated rate, allowing teenagers to develop important mental skills, intense emotions, and also engage in thrilling activities. The experiences that your kid engages in during this stage are very important, as they have a huge influence in how their brain develops. As a parent, you should thus make it a point to ensure that you provide a guiding hand, which will help to promote healthy brain growth and development.

Reference:

  1. http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/brain_development_teenagers.html
  2. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/work/adolescent.html
  3. http://www.livescience.com/21461-teen-brain-adolescence-facts.html

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.