Adolescent Brain

Adolescence is a stage characterized by numerous emotional, physical and mental development processes that can confuse teenagers and young adults. The confusion may lead them to risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, drug abuse and car accidents. Most of these risky behaviors have far breaching consequences. Therefore, teenagers and young adults need guidance in making the right choices while going through adolescence.

In order to help them make choices that will have no repercussions in their later lives, understanding the way their brain works is the first step. There are many assumptions made by adults regarding how adolescents make decisions. They assume that adolescents perceive themselves as immortals, who cannot be adversely affected by their risky behaviors. However, research shows that adolescents evaluate many facts about the risks involved in their actions and behaviors (Reyna, 2004). The availability of these facts predisposes adolescents to more danger than when the facts are few. When adolescents are exposed to many facts about the risks involved in their behavior, they get engaged in a risk-benefit analysis. The given analysis is usually done in an environment full of emotions, when the rational decision-making is impaired. Therefore, the parents, guardians and the society are in need of understanding this brain working mechanism in order to help adolescents make the right choices.

Teaching adolescents practically on how to recognize signs of danger in their environment is a useful way of guiding them to make good choices. For instance, teaching them that the presence of a boyfriend or girlfriend at home when alone, is the sign of the unsafe sex likelihood. Advising adolescents to identify such risks within their environments can help avoiding them. In the event that the risks cannot be evaded, the adolescents should be encouraged to think about the ways of setting themselves free from the scenarios.

Another helpful mechanism is to conduct a self-efficacy training with them. Youths who are not ready for sex or alcohol consumption may be taught refusal skills, practically during their normal activities. The mentioned refusal tactics can be taught by giving the youths practical real-world tasks to instill responsibility in them. When adolescents learn to refuse repeatedly, they gain confidence. The confidence is crucial in a highly emotional decision-making. Getting used to refusing can be applied automatically without tedious reasoning about the risks and benefits of the risky behaviors. Consequently, the teenagers and young adults learn to make the right decisions, which help them avoid risks.

Limiting the exposure of adolescents to risky behaviors is a deterrence mechanism of helping them go through this stage safely. Several approaches have been used to discourage young people from engaging in risky behaviors such as alcohol consumption. One of them is exposing adolescents to alcohol, so that they can learn about its negative effects. Unfortunately, the given method has led many youngsters to getting addicted to alcohol, rather than helping them to avoid it. Therefore, such exposure to risky behaviors is ineffective and should be bypassed. Eliminating or reducing the presence of risks within the adolescent environment cuts down the chances of their contact with the risks. Consequently, it reduces the chances of making a decision on whether to engage in the risky behaviors or not.

Occupying the minds of adolescents with constructive activities keep them away from the reasoned choices. Adolescents impressed by the reasoned choices are dangerous due to the high level of emotions involved. In order to eliminate the risks of making such reasoned choices, adults such as parents and guardians should engage adolescents in constructive activities. When youngsters are mentally and physically occupied in constructive activities, they are less exposed to the reasoned choices that lead to wrong preferences, rather than when they are given the freedom of choice.