Jim Harris, (photo) Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports coordinator with the Marshall University Autism Training Center says research suggests the risky experimentation that adolescents sometimes exhibit is partially due to biological changes in their brains. Harris says that these changes, push kids to be ready to go into the world as an adult.
Speaking recently at the largest social workers' conference in the country, Harris says despite parents' frustration with them, teens still need guidance and support, "The worst thing a parent can do at that stage is detach. If a parent detaches then they're kind of leaving society-media, things like that-to kind of step in."
He says the assumption often is to blame hormones and teens’ newly-awakened sex drive. But Harris says it’s deeper than that. He says teens may be getting ready to start their own families, but their brains also are changing in other ways. Take the pre-frontal cortex – the part of the brain in charge of rational decision-making and impulse control.
Harris says in a teen, it’s still developing, in part by experience and experimentation. In most people, he adds, it hasn’t fully developed until their 20s, "It’s not that they’re not necessarily rational, it’s just that they’re fine-tuning their rational process."
(Photo/Dan Heyman/Public News Service}