The resulting account of the adolescent brain—call it the adaptive-adolescent story—casts the teen less as a rough draft than as an exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside. At least one Friday a month, boys gathered after school in the backyard of Bryan Campbell at far left to wrestle and box. Teenage brain development: We parents, of course, often stumble too, as we try to walk the blurry line between helping and hindering our kids as they adapt to adulthood. How would you describe an average teenager?
What's a parent to do?
Some changes in the brain during this important phase of development actually may help protect against long-term mental disorders. Thus the brain's language centers acquire their insulation most heavily in the first 13 years, when a child is learning language. Adolescence is also a period of consolidation, as the brain prunes away synapses and wraps white matter myelin around other connections to stabilize and strengthen them.