I’ve written often about how important it is for teens to work on exercising the critical thinking part of their brain (for connecting the dots, analysis, judgment, self-control and decision-making). Parents need to know that this part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex (PFC) – is undergoing a sensitive window of development – a once-in-a-lifetime period in which the PFC can wire a robust foundation for critical thinking.
Reflecting on my own adolescence (a period of about 12 years that begins with puberty), I now realize that it was mostly LUCK that I was forced to exercise this part of my brain a lot, which gave me a foundation for critical thinking that I’ve been building on ever since.
I understand that not everyone is so fortunate. Most kids survive adolescence and become adults without using their PFC much, so they end up with a minimal foundation for critical thinking…with profound consequences – for life.
Yes, I appreciate now that I was LUCKY. It wasn’t anything I was aware of at the time. As important as this aspect of brain development is, it wasn’t something I consciously worked on. It was back in the 1960s, after all. Certainly my parents had no knowledge of this process and so did nothing to help me.
I was amazingly LUCKY as a young person in another way, too. As LUCK would have it, I experienced 9 different powerful rites of passage that helped me grow into an independent, responsible adult.
Some people go through adolescence without any such experiences.
The thing that made the biggest difference? As I said, it was LUCK. I just got LUCKY at that time of my life.
What about your kids? Or other young people you care about? Given the momentous consequences of these aspects of growing up, are you relying on LUCK? Are you hoping something positive will happen? Do you even know that this process is actually going on during the teen years? Are you CONSCIOUS of this, and are you seeking to understand these processes and learning what to do about them?
One thing you can do that will open your eyes to what’s going on and what you can do about it: my ebook, How to Give Your Teen a Superior Mind, which you can download free.
I wrote it to help parents take LUCK out of the equation.