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
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
- 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
- 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.