The Teenage Brain
To explore the amazing qualities of the teenage brain.
Use sticky notes to invite the group to post on flip-chart sheets, things they hear people say about what happens to teenagers, and in particular the teenage brains. Are they myths or reality? Have a look at the presentation slides on the teenage brain.
Hand out sheets of paper. Split it in two and ask people to pair up to discuss and list on one side things that they have learned since childhood that they want to hold onto. On the other side list the things they are happy to let go because they don't think they are going to need it any more.
Explain that as teenagers the brain is going through a 'pruning' phase and that they will lose things that they no longer use. Therefore it's important to think about ways to keep practicing these skills and qualities that they want to keep. It doesn't have to be things we've learned at school, it can be things we use in our day to day lives, or things that make us happy.
The good news is that a new bit of our brain is laying down a connective layer called a myelin sheath and the prefrontal cortex finishes growing. This helps us with all sorts of things like overcoming fear to having a better understanding and insight of the world around us.
This stage of brain development goes best when we feel safe and well, so it's important to look after yourself during your teenage years. If you're living in fear, or not taking care of yourself your brain stem can step in to try and protect you with a 'fight, flight or freeze' response.
To understand this a bit more, draw two spirals on a flip-chart (like the ones in the prsentation) and on the top one write all the things that group members feel they can do to stay on a positive spiral.
On the spiral at the bottom, write a note of all the things to avoid, that could take them on a negative spiral.
The main goal is to do what you can to stay on the positive spiral. But we all know things don't always go to plan. When it looks like you're on the negative spiral, stop! Speak to someone you can trust and get back on the right track.