How Does the Brain Develop in Adolescence?

Brain Develop in Adolescence

The human brain has a particular process of development and aging. While we are in adolescence—roughly between the ages of ten and nineteen—enormous changes occur, perhaps more so than in any other time of life.

What does this mean for kids, exactly? Or, for that matter, parents of kids whose brains are developing? There are certain things in life that are relatively easy as a parent, like picking the right kid bed. Dealing with intense emotional changes, on the other hand, can be a whirlwind that has you feeling lost and confused.

So, read on to learn more about how the brain develops during adolescence and what it means for kids and their parents.

Physical Changes to the Brain in Adolescence

As your child grows in height and weight, their brain is growing as well. Some parts of the brain will increase in size, while others will decrease. Perhaps the biggest change involves the prefrontal cortex, which plays a large role in our ability for critically thinking.

In essence, the brain’s development at this time is helping a child turn into an adult by supplying them with the necessary tools to be an adult.

Emotional Changes in Adolescence

While there are plenty of positive changes that come with the development of the brain during adolescence, it can also spark emotional changes and crises among certain children.

For example, the development of the brain during this time helps enable a greater capacity for abstract thought. While this might help your child with word problems in math class, it might also cause them to ask deeper questions that trouble them, like “What happens when we die?”

In general, adolescents will begin thinking more about themselves and their place in the world. With this change, they may begin thinking more about their future and the effects of their current decisions and circumstances. As such, they may feel unhappy about their circumstances and may experience emotional highs and lows like never before.

Guiding your Children through Adolescence

It’s definitely not easy being a parent of an adolescent, as they can go through intense ups and downs. Fortunately, there’s plenty of trustworthy guidance out there nowadays thanks to the internet:

Whatever your situation, here are a few tips to help you guide your child through adolescence and the ongoing development of their brain.

Recognize their Passions

It is often in the adolescent phase that kids discover what they are passionate about. They may want to give up one sport or hobby and pursue another, for example. Forcing your children to do something will not make them happy in the long run. So, be sure to recognize where their passions lie and help encourage them in that direction.

father guide a son

Accept their Frustrations

Many children will express a lot of frustration during the adolescent stage. As their brain matures and they develop more abstract and higher-level thinking, they may become frustrated at what they perceive to be injustices in their lives (and perhaps the world around them). If you constantly refute them, they will only become more frustrated. So, try to understand where they’re coming from.

Help them When they Need it

It’s a bit general, but the best thing you can do for your children at this time supports them. If they need help with school, help them (within reason). If they have problems with other kids or with someone they like, try to help them there as well. While it’s important to give them some degree of independence, adolescents will also still count on your support, and it’s vital that you supply it.


Monumental changes occur to the brain during the adolescent stage of development. With these changes can often come extreme emotional highs and lows. To best weather the storm, remember to remain supportive and understand that many of the “crises” undergone by your children will soon pass.

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