Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. Flinching as a gunshot whizzes past your window. Covering your ears when a police car races down your street, sirens blaring. Walking past a drug deal on your block or a beating at your school.
These life experiences wield particular influence over the brain during a few sensitive periods when our most important muscle is most likely to undergo physical, chemical, and functional remodeling. As a result, traumatic experiences that occur during these time periods can alter brain activity and ultimately change gene expressions—sometimes for good. Throughout the first two years of life, the brain develops at a rapid pace. However, around the second year, something important happens—babies begin to speak.
Your brain is particularly vulnerable to trauma at two distinct ages
This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part. Discussing the consequences of their actions can help teens link impulsive thinking with facts. This helps the brain make these connections and wires the brain to make this link more often.
It is this drama that can make working with teens challenging. You can promote a more peaceful adolescence and communicate more effectively with your students and patients by understanding how the teen brain thinks. Teens process information differently than do adults.