Facts for Families

Facts for Families

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A Teen’s Developing Brain

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Cheri Burcham
Extension Educator, Family Life
cburcham@illinois.edu

By Cheri Burcham, Family Life Educator

As a parent of a teenager, how many times have you thought "what in the world were they thinking?!" Well, in your teen's defense, their brain is not completely developed until they are in their mid-20's. Parents need to realize that their teen's brain is still developing. A person is born with around 100 billion neurons or brain cells which are continuously making new connections with each other based on frequent experiences and eliminating connections with infrequent connections. Parents are important in shaping those experiences – and thus the development of their child's brain.

According to University of Minnesota Extension Teen Talk, to help a teen's brain develop in healthy ways, parents can:

  • Support their teen by providing guidance, giving reminders and suggestions.
  • Avoid labeling decisions or choices as "stupid." Try to understand decisions from your teen's perspective. Take advantage of opportunities to teach decision-making processes.
  • Talk with teens about potentially challenging situations, such as peer pressure to drink alcohol. Coach them in practicing how to deal with those situations.

Create teachable moments by helping teens break down the actions necessary to complete chores. Then they can think about organizing actions, setting priorities and making decisions. This all contributes to brain development. For more information on raising and surviving teenagers, check out the University of Minnesota Extension webpage https://extension.umn.edu/child-and-youth-development/child-development

For more information on University of Illinois Unit 19 programming and to read more helpful articles, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at (217)345-7034. Also visit the Family Files Blog at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hkmw/eb380/

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