The Teen Brain - Under Construction

This page is part of our School Newsletter Inserts section.
Use these short articles in your school newsletters throughout the school year.

What was my teen thinking? Why is my teen so forgetful? Why did he or she not think about his or her actions?

There are many changes happening in the teen brain and new research on brain development is helping us understand this area better. The teen brain continues to develop until age 24. There are essentially two areas of the brain at work; the emotional and the rational brain (frontal lobe).

The emotional brain develops first and as a result drives teen’s behaviour and thinking while the rational brain takes a back seat.

Emotional Brain

  • Develops first
  • Dominates teen’s thinking and behaviour
  • Excited by taking risks and seeking thrilling experiences

Rational Brain

  • Develops later
  • Responsible for reasoning (planning, organizing, controlling impulses and self-awareness)

Helpful tips for parents:

  • Help your teen to plan ahead for situations (e.g., going on an outing with friends).
  • Problem-solve possible scenarios together. Talk about your concerns.
  • Focus on health and safety concerns. Help your teen think of the possible outcomes of their actions.
  • If you find yourself in conflict with your teen, remember that your teen is ruled by emotions.
  • Remember to stay calm. Don’t engage in a power struggle about who is right or wrong.