The Teen-Age Brain and Peer Pressure

This topic of the teen-age brain has been an interesting one to me since so much of what I have read suggests that the development of teenagers’ brains is somewhat “arrested” and that this may be the cause of so much of their behavior.

It has been said that it is easier for adults—in contrast to teenagers—to suppress bad responses to peer influence. Adults are better able to keep themselves doing what is appropriate, rather than subscribing to temptation.

“Discipline without Stress” teaches (a) a hierarchy so young people understand the differences between internal motivation and external motivation—and to be cautious about negative peer influences (b) impulse management—the necessity for having a procedure to redirect impulses and temptations, and (c) choice-response thinking—that a person can always choose a response to any situation, stimulation, or urge.

To point to the brain as the cause of temptation is wrong because both thinking and experiences change the brain. We live in a society where kids are isolated from adults, so they learn from each other. And that can be a recipe for disaster. When a society raises adolescents to experience a smooth, swift transition to adulthood, much of the angst assumed to be a given with teens is absent.

Adolescents in certain cultures are not racked with the turmoil of American teens, indicating that environment, not inherent brain development, may underlie troubled behavior.