Thursday, September 22, 2011

the (almost) teen brain

A few new learnings from Lauren Kessler's book about the adolescent brain: (called My Teenage Werewolf)

The brain grows and changes as much between ages 12-20 as in toddler-hood.
Brain cells are "blossoming" and being pruned continually.
The prefrontal cortex, region in charge of rational thought, moral reasoning, emotional and impulse control, is the last portion of the brain to myelinate. Because it is not fully functional in adolescence, the brain may default to the primal fight-or-flight, emotional portion, the amygdala. Teens need 1.5 hours more sleep per night than adults, but don't get sleepy (melatonin delay) until around midnight. So they may be chronically underslept.

And I remember well enough that it isn't easy to be this age.

I hope I too can get the emotional and reactive "lizard portion" of my brain under better control, and parent instead from a place of understanding and deep love.

Perhaps the next time someone throws a ketchup packet into the ceiling fan at Fosters Freeze, or calls his sister a b----, loudly, in front of company, I will take three deep breaths before acting.

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