I reviewed Blame My Brain – The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed ;The revised edition, updated with new research and with a new cover. And now here we have Nicola Morgan to guest host. She will be answering question on angst, brain bars, advice on coping with the mood swings, teenagers in love and even a great competition hosted by Nicola.
UPDATE! I will give away two books, to be in with a chance of wining it, just tweet this post and make sure that you MT me, I am @MoloneyKing You have until Friday 03.05.13 be in with a chance to win – closes at 16:00!
1. Just how much can we blame on the brain for the angst of being a teenager?
Certainly we can’t blame it all on the brain. When I give talks (to adults or teenagers), I say that I think teenagers are different from children and adults in two main ways: stage of life and state of brain. Stage of life includes (and not all these things are the same across all cultures): changing bodies (which can be very stressful), exams, peer pressure, social media pressure, fear caused by new knowledge of the negative things of the “big, wide world”, desire for independence but also fear of it. And state of brain encapsulates the rest – the physical, biological changes which may happen in varying ways and therefore affect each teenager a bit differently (and some a lot differently). Hormones are linked to the brain aspect, because it’s largely the brain that triggers the hormonal changes.
2. How important is it to educate teenagers on the importance of minding our brains? I’ve tried your recipe for brain bars and love them. [ Here is a link to the recipe.]
Brain bars are delicious, aren’t they?! Feeding the brain well is important and has noticeable effects on concentration and performance. I think all of us, whatever our age, benefit from understanding our brains and how to make them work as well as possible. That includes working with our individual strengths and weaknesses, providing the right nutrition (especially during exam or other extra-hard times), improving sleep, and recognising the negative effects of continued unresolved stress. (I’m actually writing a book on that – CHILL: The Teenage Guide to Stress!) Many teenagers really do want to learn that sort of thing – others don’t – but I feel it my duty to try to tell as many as possible. I’m passionate about empowering young people to make the most of what they are given – especially their brain!
3. I love reading and writing YA books. Is there still a part of my brain that has emotions from the teenage brain?
I should hope so, because I don’t think the emotions themselves change – though our responses to them and the things that trigger them shift somewhat. Personally, I think one reason why many adults (including me) love YA books is that they tell the same stories as adult books but get there more quickly, with less faffing than some adult writers use. We’re in a rush these day and YA books are the perfect read for rushing adults! I am sure you feel a connection with your teenage feelings because they are universal, just stronger.
4. Teenagers are associated with being moody, what advice would you give to a parent to alleviate this?
1. We all know that feeling moody isn’t a very nice feeling – so, be sympathetic.
2. Give your teenager space and don’t hassle them when they are trying to relax with a favourite TV programme – my mistake!
3. Apologise when you get something wrong or behave badly yourself. Most of us make mistakes but good grown-ups own up.
4. Try to remember what you were like and how you felt.
5. Recognise that some conflict is common and may be part of becoming independent – they sometimes have to fall out of love with you a bit, at least temporarily.
6. Do set boundaries – it’s your job. But be prepared to negotiate them.
7. It’s a phase. It passes. Hang in there.
5. Teenagers fall in love or are in love with the idea of love. Is this part of the brain pruning or a combination of the brain and hormones?
It’s hard to see how this could be part of neuronal pruning. Hormones play the biggest part here. Evolution needs people to fall in love (or, specifically, be sexually attracted, which is biologically what’s happening) and evolution has provided a strong drive towards this. Part of becoming an adult man or woman involves maturing sexually and an inevitable part of that is going to be powerful feelings of attraction. These feelings, especially when they are new, are heady, confusing and fascinating to those involved. Some problems and stresses come when young people feel peer pressure pushing them more strongly or quickly towards sexual or romantic encounters than they actually want to go.
Thanks so much for asking those great questions! I hope your readers find them interesting!
There’s a fun Blame My Brain competition running on Nicola’s blog at the moment. www.nicolamorgan.com/heartsong-blog/new-bmb-competition-for-schools-and-individuals/
Opportunities for schools and individuals of any age to win books, have their questions answered and learn about the fascinating thing that is the teenage brain!