The Adolescent Brain - Breaking Myths

What makes adolescence tick?

Is this the $3 million dollar question? With new research into brain development, this question may not be as perplexing as it sounds.


Adolescence is as much a perplexing time of life as it is an amazing one. Running roughly between the ages of 12 and 24 (yes that old), adolescence is known across cultures as a time of great challenge for both adolescents and the adults who support them. There are a lot of false beliefs surrounding adolescence that are not helpful and in fact make life more difficult for all involved. So lets break these myths right now.


Myth one:

One of the most powerful myth surrounding adolescence is that raging hormones cause teenagers to 'go mad' or 'lose their minds'. That's simply false. Hormones do increase during this period, but the main factor that determines what goes on in the adolescent is primarily the changes in the development of the brain. Knowing about these changes can help life flow more easily for you as an adolescent or for you as an adult with adolescents in your world.


Myth two:

Another myth is that adolescence is simply a time of immaturity and teens just need to 'grow up'. With such a restricted view of the situation, it is no surprise that adolescence is seen as something that everyone just needs to endure, to somehow survive and leave behind with as few battle scars as possible. To the contrary, adolescents don't just need to survive this period in their lives; they can thrive because of this important period of their lives - the testing of boundaries, the passion to explore what is unknown and exciting can set the stage for the development of core character traits that will enable adolescents to go on to lead great lives of adventure and purpose.


Myth three:

A third myth is that growing up during adolescence requires moving from dependence on adults to total independence from them. While there is a natural and necessary push toward independence from the adults who raised us, adolescents still benefit from relationships with adults. The healthy move to adulthood is toward interdependence, not complete 'do -it-yourself' isolation. The nature of the bonds that adolescents have with their parents as attachment figures changes, and friends become more important during this period. Ultimately, we learn to move from needing others' care during childhood, to pushing away from our parents and other adults and leaning more on our peers suring adolescence, to then both giving care and receiving help from others. That's interdependence.


When we get beyond the myths, we are able to see the real truths they mask, and life for adolescents, and the adults in their lives, gets a whole lot better. I realize that I have merely touched the surface in this fascinating area in our development. If you want to find out more you might like to read the book that this article was extracted from. See below for full details.


This article was an extract taken from Brainstorm: The Power And Purpose Of The Teenage Brain by Steve Biddulph.