Friday, January 30, 2015

Teen hearts and minds

Insights into the adolescent brain are always welcome.  It is both wonderful and challenging to be an adolescent and to teach and parent one, too.

This interview with Frances Jenson Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-prone, and Should Protect Their Brains, gives great insight about what is actually going on inside the developing mind of an adolescent.  Her book, The Teenage Brain looks like a great read.  

What most interested me in the interview was the advice about using media.  Teens (and preteens) don't yet have the ability to stop doing an alluring activity when they need to.  For example, they want to keep their phones under their pillow at night - texting and responding to "pings" and not sleeping.

Fortunately our teens have us - their parents and teachers - to help them when their brains are not quite ready to.  It's up to us to take the phone away, to set the limits, to help them remember that they can cope with setbacks, and to give them opportunities to practice good decision making.

A few things I have noticed about middle school children is that they are passionate about ideas, embrace causes with all their hearts, and thrive when given real responsibilities.  They deeply desire to be part of a close community and to be known - and accepted - for themselves, and forgiven for the mistakes they inevitably make.

The photo above shows preschoolers helping our middle schoolers take out the recycling.  Being in the role of a nurturer is something that most teens absolutely love.  Within the embrace of a caring community, teens can take intellectual and emotional risks.  When they feel confident that adults around them will provide the stops that their own brains can't, they are free to test limits within the bounds of safety.

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