Helping Adolescents Develop More Mature Ways of Thinking
Adolescent thinking tends to be focused on the present. But
adolescents and teens are rapidly learning new skills related to complex
reasoning, inductive and deductive reasoning, sensitivity toward others,
flexibility, and problem solving.
Remind yourself 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
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 usually appreciate an adult's genuine concern and
interest. When your child wants to do something that you think is dangerous, talk about the pros and cons of what he or she wants to do. Don't dismiss it. If needed, work together to find something your child can do that would be safer and would still meet the same need. Think about whether it would get in the way of your child's chores or other duties.
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.
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
Set 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.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.