Science can actually explain why once well-behaved children morph into moody teens who don't always make good choices. Blame it on their brains.
According to a recent story on National Public Radio, teen brains simply aren't fully developed. Their brains' frontal lobes are not completely connected, which explains why they don't always think things through or consider the consequences of their actions.
A frontal lobe that's not fully developed also explains why some teens seem to focus solely on themselves, according to the story. "You think of them as these surly, rude, selfish people," Frances Jensen, a pediatric neurologist at Boston's Children's Hospital told NPR. "Well, actually, that's the developmental stage they're at. They aren't yet at that place where they're thinking about — or capable, necessarily, of thinking about the effects of their behavior on other people. That requires insight."
The brain chemistry of teens also contributes to their heightened sensitivity and responsiveness to their environments, which then makes them more susceptible to addictions, according to NPR.
Last month, United Press International reported on a University of Pittsburgh study that discovered how adolescent rats behaved more irrationally and compulsively compared to adult rats. The teen rats kept returning to a hole for a reward, even though the reward no longer existed, according to UPI.
The findings suggest that teen's sensitivity to feels and their surroundings could be linked to the risky behaviors often associated with adolescence.
"A scenario could range from the relatively mundane, such as hungry teenagers being more likely than adults to buy fast-food immediately after seeing an advertisement, to despair and relationship problems eliciting thoughts of suicide," researcher Bita Moghaddam said.
In light of all these special circumstances during adolescence, what can parents and other adults do do to help teens?