The Adolescent Brain
Teenagers! Who understands them? We have all been there, yet it is so difficult for us to understand the younger generation. Is it the way they talk or communicate? Can it be the new fashions and trends? Is it just that the generation gap is too big?
It is a movie cliché listening to the child saying that they do not want to be like their parents in some respect or other and that they want to become a cool parent. However, when the child becomes the parent, history is repeated. Being responsible for your child may overcome your initial plan of being a “cool” parent and of course that is expected of you. But why don’t we “get” the younger generations? After all, we were where they are.
As we all know, kids don’t come with an instruction manual. But if they did, a new version will be coming out as soon as we get to grips with the previous version. Such is the pace of the changes and upgrades that an adolescent has. This can be clearly seen by changes in their shoes and clothes, one moment they are size 6 and 3 weeks later they are size 7.
Science was naïve enough to assume that the rapid body development did not apply to the structures in the brain, advocating that the brain is fully developed from a young age. Thankfully only until recently, as advances in brain imaging techniques have given us a lot of interesting new information that can help explain the changes in the behaviour of adolescents. It started to emerge that the adolescent brain was a “Work in progress”. That is not to say that all the areas of the brain are under development, indeed, it is believed that 95% of the brain is fully developed by the age of 6. For example, the areas that mediate spatial, sensory, auditory and language functions appeared largely mature in the teen brain. Only some regions are not fully developed but possibly more importantly, the connections between areas may not be fully formed.
So the new observations may offer explanations of why adolescents are underperforming compared to adults in certain mental skills such as planning, self-organisational and some lack in ability to control their actions due to their impulsive nature. Encouragingly though, the evidence amassed has showed that some mental skills of mid adolescent individuals, such as working memory, and verbal fluency, are equivalent to those of adults.
Coaching Parents would like to make this knowledge accessible to parents, coaches and all individuals responsible for the development of children. Our objective is to provide the sometimes perplexing scientific information into easily digestible sound bites, and also to provide ways in which the parents can use this information to guide their offspring to a successful adulthood.