The Benefits and Challenges of Adolescence

The essential changes and growth that happen during adolescence are related to the natural and healthy development of the brain. Some of the major changes that occur during adolescence affect the way we think, reason, focus our attention, make decisions, and relate to others.

“During this timeframe, there is a burst of growth and maturation”.

Understanding these changes as parents and explaining them to our children will help us lead healthier and more successful lives. It is most important to encourage our children’s development instead of hindering it with avoidance or ignorance. This is not to say that these adolescent years won’t be challenging, but honing in on the changes that happen during this period can help create a more stable, and well-rounded individual. This is to say, as parents, how we relate and help our child through their adolescence will shape them into who they will be as adults.

Dr. Siegel, in his book Brainstorm, discusses four different qualities of our mind during adolescence: novelty seeking, social engagement, increased emotional intensity, and creative exploration. These changes affect how teens seek rewards in trying new things, connecting with their peers, and experiencing intense emotions and push back on the existing ways of doing things. This allows them the opportunity to create a new way of being in the world. These changes, while confusing and frustrating, are necessary for the development of your child’s sense of self.

By looking more closely at each facet of development, we can observe both the upsides and downsides of these changes.

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