Teenagers don’t get a lot of breaks. They’re at a crossroads wherein their bodies are undergoing rapid changes. Adolescent brains are among the hardest-hit during this phase, which makes them largely prone to being impulsive. In turn, this often leads to poor decision-making which they tend to regret.
Impulsiveness is what often gets troubled teens into a residential treatment center like the Heritage Treatment Center for much-needed intervention. But is there an underlying reason for this mental tendency?
At a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, researchers presented a study which claims that teens react more impulsively because their brains have to work harder to control their behavior. In other words, teenagers seem to have a hard time keeping their cool in specific social situations.
They came to the conclusion by testing young children, teens, and adults aged 6 to 29 in a simple activity of go/no go. Participants were presented with images of either neutral or threatening faces. The researchers told them to push a button if they see a neutral face, and refrain from doing so if they see the latter. Teenagers pressed the button more than children and adults; a 15% lead over the other two groups.
Experts say that this is due to the brain being the last organ in the body to mature. The brain doesn’t even reach maturity even into the mid-20s and is far from being mature during adolescence. What this means is that teenagers are hardwired to take risks.
But this presents the question: what about children? Their brains are considerably less mature, after all. The difference is that children are more cautious because they’re still grounded in the family. Parents have a hand in instilling in them a level of careful decision-making. Once they hit puberty, parents have little time (and often little power) to influence their decisions, partly because they already think that they’re already grown.
Parents raising adolescents should know that their children are experiencing rapid changes, much of which they can’t even understand themselves. All they need is as much support as possible.