Have you recently stayed up so late that you were tired in school the next day?
Have you ever taken a ride from a friend whose driving made you nervous?
Have you ever lashed out at your parents or siblings — then regretted it later?
Have you ever wolfed down a fast-food meal, then felt sick afterwards and wish you hadn’t eaten it?
Do you tend to procrastinate on your homework, then realize you don’t have enough time to finish it?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, take a minute to play out the pros and cons of decisions before you make them. After all, as a teenager, your teen brain is still on the move. Researchers say that teenagers’ brains are simply not fully developed. That’s why teens sometimes make snap decisions, that in hindsight, seem like not the best decisions.
If you sometimes wonder why your attitude isn’t the greatest, or your thoughts feel a bit jumbled, it may be because you’re not thinking clearly. Literally.
Here’s what the researchers say:
• Key areas of the adolescent brain — especially the prefrontal cortex, which is the part that controls higher order skills — are not fully mature until the early to mid-twenties.
• The prefrontal cortex governs things like planning, impulse control, and reasoning — like when to act on anger or whether or not to eat a second piece of dessert.
• More 17-year-olds commit crimes than any other age group — and this may have a lot to do with the fact that teens’ brains haven’t fully matured.
• When adults resist impulses, their prefrontal cortexes are highly active. But in kids’ brains, this doesn’t happen. Brain development is not yet fully matured.
• When faced with risky vs. non-risky choices, teens often pick the riskier ones — even though they know they’re riskier.
What does all this mean? That, as a teen, it would be a good idea to push yourself to think about your choices carefully, even it doesn’t feel that important in the moment.
So — before you drink that beer, or take that second piece of cake, or take a cigarette someone offers you — think about your brain power. Will having the beer affect your driving? Will you regret the cake later, when you step on the scale? What if smoking one cigarette makes you want to smoke another one — and another? Slow down, take a deep breath, and weigh your choices, and watch your attitude.
Check out interactive tool Headspin, to get your mind going.
This article was reveiwed by BodiMojo expert, Tara Cousineau, Ph.D.