They are neither adults nor children. The decision making areas of their brains are just developing and continue to develop through their 20’s.
These adolescents are vulnerable to risk taking and impulsive behaviors. A teen’s need for instant gratification is much greater. Their ability to process and analyze situations is still developing.
Who they are; how they try belong or fit in; what is their purpose and are they wanted? These are the questions that teens are grappling with. This is the beginning of the a process to create their own identity.
Adolescence is a phase of tremendous emotional growth, in addition to physical and biological growth. Since we can’t see the emotional growth aspects as visibly we tend to ignore it. This is phase where patterns are set, beliefs are established and the foundation for socializing and relating created. The brain is at peak flexibility and at peak ability to learn and process.
The negative impacts of social media and video games are also starting to be seen. Positive and live social interaction and experiential learning that empathizes group collaboration, social consciousness and creative thinking are critical during this phase.
Addiction could be seen as a type of learning, and chemicals and technology form much stronger reward circuits than normal behaviours. Once the patterns are established in the brain, they are difficult to change. Teen years are an opportunity to create change
Alcohol, drugs, bullying, bad parenting, abuse, cruelty and other unpleasant experiences during adolescence can have lasting impact on behaviour, character, employment, relationships and happiness.
Interventions, education and rehabilitation can all be undertaken at this time of change and transformation, when the plasticity of the brain allows it to be moulded, and set, in a more positive way. Teenagers need to feel a sense of belonging, acceptance, independence, and competence
Teenagers benefit most when they experience a sense of community, autonomy, success and growth, working collaboratively, interacting on projects that are challenging, and then showcasing the results to peers and others.
Adolescents need spaces where they are given the freedom to choose and create something of value. Spending time with adults they can trust allows teens to cultivate grit and perseverance, leading to lower dropout, truancy and future crime.