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Young Brains Growing & Developing

Kids and teens are still growing and developing, and it can be hard to keep up with them. Understanding how the brain develops is one way to understand some of the challenges youth face as they move through physical, mental and emotional changes.

Progress in brain imaging technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (commonly known as the MRI) now means that science is able to study brain development at every stage of a person’s life. Scientists around the world are conducting research on how the brain develops, how long it develops and how it recovers from injury.

This type of research can help medical personnel, families, educators and other helpers better understand child and teen behaviour – allowing them to better help kids and teens when they run into difficulties.

There are excellent resources on the web with good, easy to understand information about brain development, including:

  • Healthy Child Manitoba – information on Healthy Baby programs, early and middle childhood development, teen development and information about programs and services in Manitoba
  • Teen Mental Health – click on “Learn” to find several helpful slideshows:
    • “Everything You Need to Know About the Teen Brain”,
    • “Primer on the Brain”
    • “The Teen Brain”
  • Alberta Family Wellness Institute – good information on brain development, behavioural changes and addictions
  • TED Talks (YouTube), including Dr. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s “The Mysterious Workings of the Adolescent Brain” which is less than 15 minutes long, and quite informative

Understanding brain development in kids and teens can help you answer questions, know what to expect and not be too surprised by their actions. Understanding what they are capable of can also help you keep realistic expectations and be patient when they seem to have difficulty with learning.

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