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Finding Balance: The Teen Brain, Teen Decision-Making, and the Parents' Influence

Parents are feeling the pressure. And it hugely comes from within. The notion that our children are an extension of ourselves is one that many of us have internalized to some degree. When our children struggle, we feel guilty that we somehow fell short. When they are successful, we enjoy their success and feel satisfied that we must have done something right.

But somehow, we have to challenge this idea.

Anyone who has just interacted with a 16-year-old (or a college student) realizes they're not that ready to take responsibility for major life choices. Up until about the age of 25, the prefrontal cortex –the area of the brain responsible for estimating risks, planning, and self-awareness– continues to develop. Teens and young adults will do considerably better if they have reliable adults in their lives who can warn them against impulsive decisions regarding credit cards, tattoos, premature substance use, and romantic entanglements.

Interestingly, there is a higher risk of mental health issues during adolescence and the early years of adulthood. The highest incidence of mental illness is found in young adults (18 to 25), and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for teenagers worldwide. In such a scenario, encouraging self-sufficiency could seem riskier than closely monitoring them.

WATCH to understand more:

To get some helpful insights in raising teens today, watch:

Reach out to JarvisHypnotherapy if you need help with your adolescent child and other teen troubles.

So, what then should parents do?

Whether we push them to take after-school jobs or after-school classes and whether we allow them to attend late-night parties or go on trips with friends, your opinion is important to your teens only to the extent that they care about what you think.

Hence, creating a relationship based on trust and respect rather than controlling the path of your adolescent's life is the most crucial aspect of parenting adolescents.

When parents and adolescents have a nurturing relationship, it helps in the healthy growth of teens' brains. Teenagers' unique brain development during adolescence impacts their actions, mindsets, and decisions. It will help parents obtain insight into how to maximize their influence if they understand how teen minds develop and grow.

That said, it is safe to say that teens aren't known for being happy when told what to do. As they learn more about the world and discover more about "who I am" they want to practice (and achieve) autonomy. They increasingly want to exercise their emotional, behavioral, and value-based autonomy.

While their need to be independent prepares teens for adulthood, it can lead to risk-taking choices and can often cause strained relationships with their parents.

This lengthy transition stage in adolescents is indeed challenging for parents. And even though teens think they don't need it, you (i.e., the parents and adults in their lives) can help in several ways:

1) Support teen decision-making by understanding that their unique emotional state is part of their growing process.

2) Be reminded always that the reward center in their brain is more active at this stage, while the rational decision-making center is still developing.

3) Understand that risk-taking is an essential part of their maturing process. While they tend to make rash, emotional decisions, parents should be the voice of reason. When teens are in a reactive state, parents can provide checks and balances.

4) Understand that teens are meant to take risks as they strive to be independent and establish themselves in their communities. Let them take bold steps while providing a safe environment with healthy boundaries.

5) Remember to honor your teens' intelligence. They are super learners with brains that absorb learnings, information, and stimulus very easily.


Therefore, recognizing and learning about how the brain changes during the adolescent years is the first step in understanding teen decision-making. With that, it’s the duty of parents to help their teens take healthy risks, make informed decisions, learn from mistakes, and draw boundaries that ensure they continue to grow and mature within a safe space.

The experts in JarvisHypnotherapy can help if you wish your teen to make better choices and thrive as they exercise their independence.

Get more helpful insights on teen mental wellness from JarvisHypnotherapy by reading: What Parents Need to Know About Teen Sadfishing.


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