Creative Child

Five Ways to Support Teen’s Brain Development

by Rebecca Eanes


Here are 5 ways you can help support your teen through these amazing and trying years:


  1. Ensure they get proper sleep. Teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night. Research shows that the blood levels of the sleep hormone melatonin is higher later at night and drops later in the morning than in most children and adults. This explains why they tend to stay up later and sleep in later. However, due to school, they often go to sleep later but still have to get up early, causing sleep deprivation which can have a serious impact on development over time and leads to increased impulsivity, difficulty paying attention, and higher levels of anxiety. Encourage your teen to develop a good bedtime routine which includes sleep meditations or relaxing movements such as gentle yoga, and when they have the opportunity to sleep in, let them sleep!
  2. Talk about the immediate and long-term consequences of their actions. Explain how one action can affect many people. Help your child to stop and think. Rather than simply punishing your teen by taking away their phone or video games, look to logical solutions that help solve the problem that was created by their behavior, and discuss your reasoning along the way. When you talk through cause and effect, you are helping your child make these connections in the brain, strengthening that area as it develops.
  3. Encourage empathy by discussing feelings freely. Talk about yours, talk about theirs, and discuss examples in movies. Ask them to notice facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, and see if they can learn to tell what others may be feeling through their non-verbal communication. Help your teen understand different perspectives and to see how another’s point of view may differ from his. Be a positive role model for showing empathy to others.
  4. Help your child find new and creative outlets for self-expression. Many teenagers enjoy music, writing, sports, dance, theater or other art forms to be therapeutic and helpful in releasing emotions. These activities can also help your child take healthy risks, learn problem-solving skills, practice understanding social cues, and develop independence.
  5. Stay connected to your teen. While it is important to set boundaries and guide your teen, you must also let them unfold. They need grace for their awkwardness and high emotions. Even when they resort to being disrespectful with us, we must step up and treat them with respect and dignity. This is how we set an example for adult behavior. And when they seem to be pushing us away, we must find ways to stay close and above all, we need to convey unconditional love.

The teen years are a perilous journey of self-discovery. We cannot protect them from all the bumps and bruises, but we can be an ever-present source of comfort. We can be a soft place to land and a safe place to unmask. We can be the one voice that stands out above all others, because ours is a voice of encouragement and adoration - a voice that always brings them back home.


Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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