A Parent’s Guide To Why Teens Make Bad Decisions
James McCue , 23 Jan 18
       

It’s not his fault. His brain hasn’t fully developed yet. Unsplash/Matt Heaton

From getting beyond drunk at a friend’s party, to some seriously questionable outfit choices, teenagers often do things that seem outlandishly stupid. But we now know why: the areas of the brain that control decision-making don’t fully develop until early adulthood.

A teen’s developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able to consider the consequences of their choices. So how can parents help their teenagers learn and apply good decision-making skills?


The difference between what teenagers know and do

Most children demonstrate an understanding of “right” and “wrong” behaviour from an early age. As language develops, children are able to give clear reasons as to why certain behaviours are undesirable.

But children and teenagers have been found to be poor decision-makers if they feel pressured, stressed or are seeking attention from peers.

So it’s reasonable to expect a 15-year-old to know they should not steal. But they are less adept at choosing not to steal in the presence of coaxing peers whom they wish to impress.

The difference between what teenagers know and what they choose can be explained in terms of “cold” and “hot” situations. Cold situations are choices made during times of low emotional arousal. During these periods, teenagers are able to make well-reasoned and rational decisions.

Hot situations refer to choices during periods of high emotional arousal (feeling excited, anxious, or upset).

Teenagers may not make the decision they know is right if they’re pressured, stressed or seeking approval from mates. Unsplash/steinar engeland, CC BY
.
Hot situations increase the chance of teenagers engaging in risk-taking and sensation-seeking behaviours, with little self-control or consideration of the possible consequences of their actions.

The impact of emotional arousal on decision-making explains why teenagers might discuss, for example, the negative consequences associated with drinking and drug-taking, but then engage in those very behaviours when with friends.

The biology of bad decision making in teens

Brain studies show the frontal lobe – which is responsible for decision-making, impulse control, sensation-seeking, emotional responses and consequential thinking – does not finish developing until our early-to-mid 20s.

 

The regions of the human brain. from www.shutterstock.com

Sign in to view full article

       
The Phone Calls That Helped Expose Organ Harvesting in China
Drhiyuan Wang has spent more than 10 years investigating how other doctors in China have killed massive numbers of people ...
James Burke
Wed, 8 Feb 17
We Change Our Voice When We Talk to High-Status People, Shows New Study
Imagine going for a job interview and the employer sitting across from you is truly intimidating. He’s big, bold, loud ...
Viktoria Mileva, Juan David Leongómez
Wed, 5 Jul 17
Far Beyond Crime-Ridden Depravity, Darknets Are Key Strongholds of Freedom of Expression Online
The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent – and that’s ...
Roderick S. Graham
Wed, 1 Feb 17
How Blockchain Will Transform Our Cities
Many trends on the horizon offer opportunities that could transform our cities. From self-driving vehicles and the sharing economy through ...
Hussein Dia
Wed, 15 Feb 17
The Meditation That’s Banned in China, But Welcomed Around the World for Uplifting Health and Morality (Video)
Many practice meditation as a natural and cost-effective way to achieve better physical and mental health, and in ancient times ...
NTDTV
Thu, 5 Jan 17
An Epoch Times Survey
An Epoch Times Survey
Sports Elements
Sports Elements
BUCHERER
Sports Elements