Professor Abigail Baird shares the latest perspectives on the cognitive and behavioral growth that happens in the teen years, and sheds light on both the how and why this is responsible for a lot of the behavior we associate with this age group. She also shares her years of research to support the importance of these brain changes, and how we as parents, teachers, adult role models, and even teens themselves can understand what is happening neurologically, to better work with the behavior. She also offers some insight into understanding when these changes may be outside of the normal scope, and how to handle instances where outside intervention may be needed and how to address this.
As both a parent of a teenager, and someone who has lived through this milestone, I found it refreshing to match common teen behaviors to specific changes in the brain. Who knew there were neurological changes at the root of these common behaviors? By offering an objective perspective on why this happens, opportunities are created for conversation, support, and new ways to approach the changes instead of constant battling against them. For me, these lectures created a deeper understanding, which was both enlightening and empowering at the same time.
One thing I bookmarked was when Professor Baird discussed a bit about how to handle concerns if your teen is exhibiting behaviors that might warrant professional help. Instead of threatening professional help in the heat of an argument, calmer minds prevail, and in offering advice on how to approach this, she likens it to something a bit more relatable:
“If your teen had a sore throat that lasted more than a few days and was preventing them from doing things they wanted to do, would you assume they could just pull it together and make it go away? Or would you take an hour to bring them to a doctor and find out if it required additional intervention?”
So she’s not saying caregivers need to understand everything, but her lectures and research provide a roadmap, for both parent and teen, that navigates the normal changes and when to escalate the not-so-normal ones and some advice on how to handle some of the more common situations.
While reading, I immediately recommended this book to several friends who are parents of teens, and now I recommend it to you.