Teenage Brain Development and Tips for Good Parenting


The human brain is central organ of the human nervous system and together with the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system.

The brain is a Biological lump of Neurons. It contains about 2% of body weight, but consumes 20 to 30% of our energy intake every day. Energy consumption of brain is same all the time whatever we are doing. i.e Listening, Reading, Playing etc.

Part of the brain in the very front called the Frontal cortex, which is the last brain region to develop because brain develops from the back to the front. This Frontal cortex helps us to think about the consequences or potential consequences of our actions before we do them. It helps us regulate our behavior and emotions. And so, it makes sense that if this part of the brain is not fully available until well past adolescence, then teenagers may make more impulsive decisions with less regard for the potential future consequences.

  • The Teenage brain is constantly changing even right now, at this moment.
  • The Teenage brain is responsive to the environment.
  • The teenage brain gets excited about Rewards, Emotions and New experiences.

Forgetfulness, disorganization, poor Decision making, Aggression, fear, excitement are all side effects of this massive development in the brain. Some tasks like completing Home work, Remembering responsibilities, Maintaining an organized Work Environment are all usually done with less effort if at all done. This is one of the reasons that Time Management, and Responsibility are the skills that must be acquired in the teenage.

Gray Matter

The cerebrum is the largest part of the human brain and is divided into two cerebral hemispheres.The cerebral cortex is an outer layer of grey matter covering the core of white matter.

Gray matter in the brain includes cell bodies or Neurons, Nerve fibers and support cells. By the time we are twelve it takes more than a decade for all that matter to become fully wired and pruned for efficiency. So this is a process called Neuromaturation.

Scientists believe this is the reason why teens in general share some common behaviors like Sensation seeking, Risk taking and needing to be accepted by their peers. So the teenage brain is going through a lot of critical transformation particularly in the prefrontal cortex which is one of the last areas of the brain to fully mature. It is responsible for executive functions like analysis, Paying attention, Motivation, Planning, Understanding, Consequences and having Self control. So, the fact that these functions are underdeveloped and tend to engage in risky and impulsive behaviors. And, Reward centers also become highly active and slowly weather out as he /she becomes an adult.

A child becomes an adolescent going through emotional and psychological changes and gets puberty leading to physical changes during teen years.These significant physical and hormonal changes make the teenagers chaotic and confused.

During this period, teenagers are moving from the world of ‘being’ dependent and entering the world of ‘doing’ independent. There is an urgency to jump into social world, to start new relationships and take on risky and unfamiliar tasks. In fact, the teenage brain has a well developed accelerator but only a partially developed brake. Obviously ‘applying brake’ role has to be taken by parent.

How teenagers talk to you, deal with you and behave around you and the rest of the world also changes with this. What they do is their reaction to the changes that come along with age. How you behave with your “disobedient and rebellious” teen is your response to them. Only thing you can fully control is your response. As the adult in the relationship, you are supposed to think, act and make the right choices in order to get desired result from your teen.

Here are the tips for better parenting that can pave way for a meaningful parent- child relationship.

  1. Listen to teens: Every good conversation starts with good listening. Usually, we approach instruction mode with our kids. Teenagers do not like being ‘told’ what they should or should not be doing. So initiate a conversation, discuss, respect their feelings and answer any questions that the kid may want to clarify. By doing this, the child may feel heard and be open to listen what you say.
  2. Show affection and concern: Attention is crucial and important to the teens and it should be consistent.You must not assume your kids know how much you love him or her. Your love towards kids must be unconditional. At the same time, You must keep in mind that unconditional love doesn’t mean unconditional approval for anything they do. If you are pointing out something that your child could do better, the criticism should be specific and to the point rather than making personal statements about them in general.
  3. Teach kids to make corrections without punishment: Parents must remember that teenage is like a stepping stone and kids make mistakes. Have patience to teach them how to make corrections. If you raise your child without punishment he/she will certainly be close to you. Because teens don’t want to lose the trust. If he/she does ask how they can repair the damage including repairing your trust.

Even if they do something wrong or irresponsible never punish them. It makes things worse. It’s never too late to make them understand. It is a way for them to make things better which is what adults need to learn to do.

  1. Be Flexible: Whenever your teen displays more responsibility provide him or her more freedom. If teen shows poor judgement consider for more restrictions. Parent must not use demeaning or disrespectful tone towards teens as it could instill a sense of shame and distract from rethinking on what they have done wrong. Before speaking, ask yourself if what are about to speak is genuine and necessary.
  2. Set guidelines and consequences: Discipline is not punishing or controlling the child. It’s about teaching. In order to encourage the teen to behave well, it’s always advisable to discuss what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable at home, school and elsewhere.

 But, do not negotiate when it comes to restrictions imposed on your teen’s safety. You ought to make sure that your teen understands you won’t tolerate or compromise on activities that may distract his or her discipline and studies. Your teen is more likely to comply with restrictions when he or she understands its purpose.

Make consequences linked to teen’s actions or choices.

  1. Set genuine and reasonable expectations: Avoid setting high expectations.You need to set your teen reasonable expectations. But instead of focusing on achievements such as getting straight ‘A’s, expect your teen to be respectful, honest, generous, attentive, focused, managing good relations, being shrewd, etc.
  2. Appreciating achievements: When it comes to day to day achievements or accomplishments, remember the teens gain confidence through success which can motivate them for next challenge. It’s important to appreciate kids when they achieve something. This will certainly help to boost confidence and sense of pride.

 As your teen takes on more difficult tasks support him or her determine  what he or she can handle. If your teen doesn’t do well, react supportively and encourage to recover and do not give up.  It’s more important to appreciate their effort than the end result.

  1. Let teens feel guilty: Feeling good about oneself is healthy. But people should also feel bad if they have hurt someone or done something wrong.  Kids need to feel guilty of doing something wrong. Guilt is a healthy emotion. Let them feel bad.
  2. Set a good example: Teens mostly learn to behave by watching their parents. Your actions in general speak louder than your words. Demonstrate this to your teen how to cope with stress in positive ways and be resilient. Be a good role model and your teen will likely to follow you.

Parents must void:

  • Ultimatums
  • Warnings
  • Comparing peers,friends or relatives
  • Interrogations
  • Nagging
  • Sarcasm
  • Yelling at child
  • Criticizing in front of others
  • Too much of praise
  • Too little or too much discipline

Let’s make difference positively. All the best.


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