leap in adolescence and youth and
continues well into adulthood.
“Your brain continues to be formed
until you are about 30 years old.
Women’s brains are done developing
around their late 20’s, or at 30. Men’s
brains are done developing at least
five years later, so we are looking
at age 35, maybe even as late as age
40. There is still some debate how
long it takes for the male brain to
develop,” said Dr. Robbin Gibb, PhD,
Lethbridge, at an Apple Talk in June.
The developing frontal cortex is
also credited with risk-taking; teens
do not have the ability to judge
the severity and consequences of
risks. It’s important to help teens
understand how to take smart risks,
such as wearing a helmet while
mountain biking or skateboarding.
Another part of the teen brain
also in high gear is the nucleus
accumbens. It’s tiny (about the size of
a Skittle) and located about midway
between the earlobes. This is the
reward centre of the brain and its
development is crucial to becoming
a fully functioning adult. The
developmental task here: regulation.
The teen years are an incredible
time of change and the changes can
happen with bullet-train speed. This
makes it hard on teens themselves
as well as their parents, families,
teachers and others in their lives.
Sure teens can be cranky and
moody. And when they are it’s an
opportunity to help them understand
their emotions and teach them
ways they can regulate them. Role
modelling is important but talking
and listening to them is essential;
it’s serve and return for teens. It’s
not always easy—it is always worth
learning why your teen is sad, mad or
You want to give your teen a
chance to deal with the obstacles life
throws them. They need to tackle
their own challenges, such as taking
a driver’s test, asking someone to
prom or getting a first job.
Some goal-setting and boundaries
(such as trying to make the volleyball
team and being home by midnight)
will also help your teen be prepared
for adulthood. And as she becomes a
fully developed adult, you’re sure to
recognize her again.
— Terry Bullick and Frank MacMaster
Dr. Frank MacMaster, PhD, is
the Cuthbertson and Fischer
Chair in Paediatric Mental
Health at the University of
Calgary. He’s based at the
Behavioural Research Unit at
the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Part of our Passion for Health campaign, these events can help you learn more
about your and your family’s well-being from health professionals in your
community. All talks are free; refreshments served.
Moms and dads: same love,
Learn about the differences in parenting styles and
how they’re important to your child’s development.
Healthy living at home
Learn how to stay healthy, independent and
supported in your home and community as you age.
Thursday, November 27 at 2:00 p.m. to 3: 30 p.m.
The Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre,
4620-47 Avenue, Red Deer
Thursday, October 30 at 6: 30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Strathcona County Parent Link,
3 Spruce Avenue, Sherwood Park
Thursday, November 20 at 6: 30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Stettler Regional Child Care Centre,
5702-48 Avenue, Stettler
Free childcare available