Looking for best parenting-understand your teen brain!

Looking for best parenting-understand your teen brain!

The great Neuroscientist “Frances Jensen” is continuously studying human brain throughout his life, but she was not prepared for challenge of two teenage boys. Her challenge was to search out the reason that why responsible and smart teenagers act impulsively and involve in high-risks behavior. She spent time to search on the worth of brain. Her research helps a lot to guardians, teachers, and parents to understand this fact.

Looking for best parenting-understand your teen brain!

Teen brain-continuous improvement

During puberty, the bodies of teenagers began to change and they look like other adults. It is assume that their brain also consider as the brain of adult. Frances Jensen says that the basic inspiration behind this work is her two sons that are teenagers. She said that “The brain is the last organ in the body to mature. It takes into mid-20s for it to complete.” During writing book: The teenage Brain, she high light the brain’s strengths as well as weaknesses at developmental stage and said that the way the brains of teenage wired makes them best learner as compared to adults.

She said, “It’s coming down from a high on learning that happens in childhood, something we call ‘synaptic plasticity,’ which means that the synapses, where your brain cells talk to each other, are how you learn,”.

“The proteins and the chemicals involved in building synapses for learning are at very, very high levels in the child, and a little bit less in adolescents and then come down to sort of adult levels, which is why a child can learn two, three languages flawlessly and a teenager is pretty good, not quite as good as a child, but better than an adult in terms of the rate at which they can learn and absorb information.”

The paradox about teens is that their minds are more capable to learn, the process of development is continuing among various brain areas.

Jensen further elaborate that “Your brain cells send out processes so that your brain areas can talk to each other. This process requires signals to go through the brain. These processes need insulation,”

Frontal lobes present in brains play their role in judgment, insight, empathy, impulse control and she said that  “So we have a very active brain, on one hand, able to learn, but it’s being driven by a driver who doesn’t really have full access to the brakes yet,”

Multitasking among boys and girls

Through research, a temporary problem has been found out for teenagers that are multi-tasking. Sensory overload hinders the brain ability of teens in order to remember words. “In this study,” Jensen reported, “the ones who were given all sorts of distractions as they were trying to learn a task, they still did worse than the kids that were given the same learning experience without distraction. So teenagers can think, ‘Oh, I can learn and do that all at the same time.’ No, it’s still an issue for their brain. There is a limit.”

Brain development also differs due to gender differences. She said that during childhood, the specific part of brain that works to process information expands and then it started to become thin, peak in girls almost in between 12, 13, 14 years of age and almost two years after in boys. She makes a comparison between 13-15 years old boy and 13 to 15 years old girl.

“Of course there are individual exceptions, but we can say in general, the girls are probably more planners, able to sort of navigate through complex sort of  scheduling and things, whereas planning isn’t a boy’s big strength at this point of their life.”

Sleep among teens

Sleep is considered important for memory and learning, but teens usually don’t take enough sleep. Their stay up till late night and late wake up make parents think that they are lazy.

Jenson point out one more myth, she said that the biological clock of teens are programmed almost two to three hours late not for sleep but also for wake up as compared to adults. She said that “Adults get a surge of melatonin, the hormone produced by the brain that helps make you sleepy, around 8:30. It typically doesn’t not hit teens until closer to 11 p.m. “So they’re not ready to go to sleep yet until midnight,”

She further says that the teens have to take a sleep of almost 8 hours to enjoy a healthy mind. And she says that “It’s probably not the optimal time for their brains to be put in a learning environment,”.

Looking for best parenting-understand your teen brain!

Effect of bad habits on teen brains

Jensen argues during her research that alcohol and drugs put a serious affect on the teenagers’ brain and this affect is more than adult brain. “Your IQ can change up or down between 13 and 17 [years old]. We don’t quite know what specifically can make an IQ go up or down, but one thing that we know does make IQs go down is certainly exposure to certain drugs, for instance chronic pot smoking;  the more you smoke, the lower your IQ will be between that time window.”

So when we think about teens that they are more flexible than Jensen said that they are not and they are. “There are certain things that can affect them long term,” she explained. “The same amount of experiences like stress or alcohol or pot, an adult may sail through it — for the same exposure — but a teenager will bear a long-term problem based on that.”

Parents: take assistance from patience and be observant

All these new information regarding brain of teens help a lot to parents and teachers and here Jensen advise to adults “Stay connected and also be a little bit more patient,”.

Looking for best parenting-understand your teen brain!

She says, “This is the first generation in which we’ve known very much about the unique aspects of the adolescent brain; the strengths and weaknesses. Also, it’s during these teenage years that mental illnesses can first strike: bi-polar, depression or schizophrenia. We see these things coming at 18, 19, 20 or early 20s. That’s another reason to stay connected and know how to look for the warning signs.”

Jensen encourages parents that they should share information with kids. “In teenage years, they’re trying to learn who they are, to figure out their identity They have a natural interest in anything about themselves that can be told, so when you start telling them about the biology of their maturation state, you’re be surprised how quite interested in it they are.”


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@iMZahidIqbal @iMZahidIqbal

Writing about developing World technologies and entrepreneurship. Associate at Microsoft BizSpark & International Development Innovation Network. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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