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Helping Adolescents and Teens Develop More Mature Ways of Thinking


Topic Overview

Adolescent thinking tends to be focused on the present. However, adolescents and teens are rapidly learning new skills related to complex reasoning, inductive and deductive reasoning, sensitivity toward others, flexibility, and problem solving.

Recognize that it is normal for adolescents to have a sense of being uniquely invincible, to have an "it will never happen to me" mind-set. This way of thinking may limit their ability to assess situations, risks, and future consequences. As a result, they may engage in risky behaviors and test authority.

The following are some ways you can help your adolescent develop reasoning skills and cognitive abilities:

  • Engage your adolescent to share with you by making concrete observations and asking direct questions. For example, if your child seems troubled by something, say "You look like you've had a hard day," or "You look sad—do you want to talk?"
  • Respond positively to your child's efforts and interests. Teens can easily see through flattery or excessive praise. They usually appreciate an adult's genuine concern and interest, though.
  • Help your child solve problems by discussing different options. Use learning exercises, such as role-play, for finding solutions to problems.
  • Encourage your adolescent to develop healthy habits, such as wearing seat belts or being drug-free, by setting a good example and talking openly about these issues.
  • Promote higher thinking skills by talking to your adolescent about current issues and modern dilemmas. Be involved in schoolwork by talking to his or her teachers or volunteering at school. If asked, help problem-solve difficult homework.
  • Establish the rules in your home together. Talk about how rules will be enforced, and be sure to follow through with the agreed-upon consequences when appropriate. Teenagers need and often want limits.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerThomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last RevisedFebruary 23, 2010

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