Understanding the Teenage Brain

After years of working with adolescents, I can safely say that it is a confusing period for everyone involved. For the teenager herself, for the other adolescents interacting with her, and for her parents, teachers, and any other adult interacting with her.


One person who has helped tremendously in my understanding of teenagers and how their brains work is Dr. Dan Siegel. I recommend every parent of a teen to read his book Brainstorm. The nutshell of his research is that the changes that occur in a teen’s brain are necessary to help them prepare for moving away from their parents and starting their adult life. These changes cause a lot of upheaval but they are also vital.


He encourages us to reframe our understanding of adolescence and begin to see it as a time of great importance. Siegel asks us to remember this the next time a teenager rolls his eyes at us and ignores what we‘ve just said (I know, easier said than done).


But I have found that when I can put myself into this mindset, I can detach from a teen’s behavior, look at what might be motivating them to act out, and remember not to take it personally. To learn more about how the teen brain works, you can pick up a copy of his book, or watch this great short video that explains the core take-aways in detail.​