New Research on The Teen Brain pt 2

kelliemontgomery's picture

This is a follow up to the first piece in this two-part rumination.

So, what do the 'experts' suggest you do to try to mitigate your teenager's propensity for risk? Pretty much what you may already be doing... or knew to do.

Because it is so much easier to take risks associated with the reward of peer approval, its a good suggestion to help teens by providing supervision- breathing room, yes...but not tons of time unsupervised. After school programs, sports, activities that include adults are all very good.

Important to note is that there is a large spectrum here as well, and some kids are going to be more pre-disposed to taking risks than others. It may be that genetically some teens are more impulsive or have a higher threshold for reward-seeking behavior. Because the teen brain is changing and developing, teens are more affected by alcohol and drugs and can become addicted to substances in a stronger way than adults.

Additional suggestions include:

When talking to teens emphasize rewards for good behavior, not just consequences for bad helps to give them motivation.

Important advice when parenting a teen is also to hold them accountable when they are involved in actions that have negative consequences.Try not to shield them from natural consequences, this is a part of maturing and learning.

After working with troubled teens for seven years, I think if I had one piece of advice that is often overlooked- I would say be open to listening to your teen. The most common complaint I heard in the office was 'they never listen, they just lecture'. Whether or not they will talk is something that changes with every mood swing they have...however, if they know you are open to listening and doing so calmly they will be more open to talking.

Another suggestion: when helping them to make choices try to guide them by asking questions and gently prodding for what they think and how they feel.

Hope this helps!

Kellie Montgomery, LMFT

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