Supporting our Boys
The Teenage Brain
I would like to focus on our young men, who are currently teenagers aged mostly between 13 and 17 – the age referred to by some as ‘ the wandering stage’.
It is commonly regarded and accepted as a very difficult time in their lives as they walk the bridge of adolescence ie they are caught between being a boy and a man, but it is important for them to know that this stage of their lives will come to pass as they become young adults.
Dr James Dobson in his book “Preparing Adolescence’ says that they are saying goodbye to childhood and being welcomed to adulthood and believes that they need other voices to support them eg friends, mentors, teachers . They react from the emotional [fight or flight ] part of the brain amygdala and the progress is often limited : 2 steps forward and three steps backward and there is a need for continuity whilst they are on the bridge of adolescence.
Research conducted suggests that every part of the brain is under construction and they have an inability to conceive beyond Friday [they live in the here and now]. They cannot think like adults as their prefrontal cortex [part of the brain that deals with planning and decisions] is not developed. The adults in their lives need to be the ‘surrogate’ pre frontal cortex [to hint, to subtly nudge, make them aware of the consequences, provide good structure] in making sound decisions and keeping them safe. They need 8 to 9 hours sleep a night and like to go to bed late as melatonin is released later and therefore mom and dad should allow them to sleep in on the weekends.
Dr Jay Giedd in teen brain research states that adolescence is a period of high risk – they take chances, they test their supposed invulnerability, drugs and alcohol experimentation are almost a rite of passage, as the brain is at its most vulnerable and will only be fully developed by the age of 25.
What is important for you as parents and them to know is that there are people around them who will help and guide them through this difficult passage in their lives. Do not be afraid to speak to people who will listen and support them.
C J Luman