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Teenage Brain

Teenagers are risk takers – it’s in their nature!

What’s happening with the teenage brain?
When teenagers go through puberty their brains grow and the way the brain works changes. Teenagers’ brains change and grow at different rates, the same as their bodies do.

Unlike with body changes, it is not possible to see the changes happening in the brain, but you may notice changes in their behaviour which are a normal part of teenage development.

The teenage brain is good at learning and dealing with changes or new things. This is the second opportunity during childhood for the brain to make the connections that may not have formed in earlier childhood.

  • Feeling cut out of the teenager’s world

    You may have noticed that your teenager no longer talks to you as much. This is normal as it is an important part of teenagers working out who they are and what is important to them.

    You may feel like you are no longer needed by your child and this can be hard. It is important to remember that you are still very important to them as they still need a lot of support from you.

    You may find your child appears to break rules and wants to be free to make their own choices. They do still need clear boundaries and to have their parents’ care, interest and love.

  • Problems with difference in opinion

    It can be hard if your child thinks differently to you and this can lead to disagreements. It may feel like your teen argues with you a lot, but they are usually just trying to find their own way and get more independence.

    Giving your teenager choices which are reasonable and safe for their age helps them practice making choices safely and helps them to feel freer. Plan rules together so that they have a bit more control over their choices. Try not to have too many rules; you might need to meet them halfway.

  • Worries about teenagers risk taking

    Your teenagers may start testing rules by staying out late, spending time with friends who get into trouble, or trying activities that put them at risk of harm, such as drinking too much alcohol, being unsafe on the roads, or unsafe internet use.

    They may disagree with your advice on self-care, such as diet, sleep, clothing and homework. Help give them a good diet and remind them to get lots of sleep; having a good routine is still important in the teenage years. But sometimes you will have to be a bit flexible!

    Talk to your teen about what they are doing and where they are going. Teenagers are at greater risk when their parents don’t know where they are, so be open and find out what they’re up to. It is normal for teenagers to not want to talk to their parents, giving lots of opportunity for open conversations means that they will come to you if needed. It is important to show that you’ve listened to their views and care about them. Help make home a safe space. Teenagers need to try new things and learn, but they also need a base they can feel safe in and cared for.

  • Teenagers become more bothered about their peers

    As your teenager's brain develops, they begin to imagine things from other people’s point of view. This can cause worries around what other people think about them, their appearance, and their behaviour. Teenagers sometimes take risks to try and impress their friends.


  • Top tips for supporting your teenager's brain development

    Let them test ideas within what is safe for their age. Accept they may choose to do some things differently; it’s all part of their learning.

    Be a point of help for your teenager; let them feel safe to ask for advice without you telling them off.

    Listen to your teenager and make time for them. Even if it feels like they are pushing you away, stay available. Keep on making time for them so that they don’t become too lonely. You can chat and ask about their day over meals or in the car.

    Accept that teenagers can get strong emotions and let them out, don’t take it personally.

    Don’t get into emotional arguments, try and keep calm when your teenager displays anger or frustration. Find tools that help you keep calm as the parent and be a good example with how to unwind and relax.

    Things to help your teenager:
    1. Listening to music
    2. Exercising
    3. Reading
    4. Go for a walk
    5. See friends and talk to them
    6. Mindfulness



    Health Uncovered is a series of podcasts that aims to get young people in-tune with their health and wellbeing. The series is hosted by BBC Radio One presenter Cel Spellman and features young people and health professionals from our Norfolk Healthy Child Programme.

    Life isn't always easy - and young people across the country have been helping us explore the issues that they’re facing today. From online bullying to sexual health, body image to mental health. They've been asking the questions you want to hear answered, joined by the health professionals that help young people, like school nurses and mental health specialists, to provide solutions, support and understanding.

    Our service and young people have been particularly involved with episode 3 “me and my emotions” and episode 4 “are you ready?”

    Listen now!  The podcasts are free and you can listen via mobile devices, tablets and laptops.  Just search “Health Uncovered” in your favourite podcast app, like iTunes.

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