Teen Brain: What are teenagers thinking?

More from this show

How do teens handle stress, friendships, and everyday life? What can parents do to help? New York Times best-selling author and family counselor Dr. Michael Gurian shares insight into the minds of teenagers.

TED SIMONS: HOW DO TEENAGERS HANDLE STRESS, FRIENDSHIPS AND EVERYDAY LIFE. AND WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO HELP? HERE TO SHARE INSIGHT INTO THE MINDS OF TEENAGERS, BEST SELLING AUTHOR AND FAMILY COUNSELOR MICHAEL GURRIAN.
MICHAEL GURIAN: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
TED SIMONS: WHEN DOES A TEENAGE MIND BECOME A TEENAGED MIND?
MICHAEL GURIAN: WELL, IT'S MOVING THROUGH PREPUBERTY, 9, 10-ISH. MOVING IN. AND THEN OF COURSE BY 13, WE CALL IT A TEEN MIND. AS IT MOVES THROUGH PUBERTY, IT'S BECOMING THIS TEEN MIND.
TED SIMONS: SO IT MOVES GRADUALLY.
MICHAEL GURIAN: UH-HUH. EVERYTHING IS DEVELOPMENTAL.
TED SIMONS: BRAIN CHEMISTRY, HOW MUCH IS THAT INVOLVED WITH THIS MOVEMENT?

MICHAEL GURIAN: WELL, IT'S AN ECHO. THE BRAIN CHEMISTRY, THE HORMONES IS ACTUALLY AN ECHO OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THE WOMB. LIKE THE MALE AND THE FEMALE BRAIN, THEY'RE SET IN UTERO THROUGH NEUROCHEMISTRY. SO THEN WE BECOME MALE -- MORE MALE AND FAMILY AS WE GET HIT WITH HORMONES AND IT ECHOES WHAT WAS HAPPENING BACK THEN. THE BRAIN IN SOME WAYS DIFFERENTIATES EVEN MORE MALE AND FEMALE AND IN SOME WAYS IT COMES TOGETHER. THE BRAIN CHEMISTRY -- THE BRAIN IS SET BY THE CHEMISTRY.
TED SIMONS: BUT THAT IS A MAJOR FACTOR, IS IT NOT?
MICHAEL GURIAN: IT IS. THAT LETS PEOPLE KNOW THEIR KIDS GO THROUGH MOODS AT 14 THAT THEY DIDN'T GO THROUGH AT 7.
TED SIMONS: TEENAGERS AND EVERYDAY LIFE, HOW DO THEY HANDLE THINGS?
MICHAEL GURIAN: HOW DO THEY HANDLE EVERYDAY LIFE?
TED SIMONS: YEAH.
MICHAEL GURIAN: THEY'RE LOOKING -- A LOT OF THE TEEN MIND -- WE WANT THEM TO DEVELOP THE TOP OF THE BRAIN, RIGHT? THAT'S THE FRONTAL LOBE, TEMPORAL LOBE, ALL OF THAT.
TED SIMONS: THE DECISION-MAKING KIND OF STUFF.
MICHAEL GURIAN: A LOT OF WHAT YOU'RE DOING IN THE MIDDLE. WHERE THE SENSES ARE AND WHERE THE EMOTIONS ARE. AND THEN THEY GET PARSED UPWARD. SO OUR ROLE REALLY IS TO HELP THEM DEVELOP MORE PATHWAYS BETWEEN THE THINKING PART OF THE BRAIN, EMOTIVE PART OF THE BRAIN. THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO NURTURE THEM TO BECOME ADULTS. WHAT THEY'RE DOING IS NATURALLY GOING THROUGH A PROCESS THAT'S EXPERIENTIAL WHERE THEY EXPERIENCE IMPULSES AND THEN THEY GET FEEDBACK. IMPULSE, FEEDBACK. IMPULSE, FEEDBACK. THEY'RE COGNITIVELY LEARNING IN SCHOOL. BUT FACEBOOK, SOCIAL MEDIA, VERY IMPULSIVE. THEY'RE LEARNING FROM HOW THE WORLD, ENVIRONMENT, FACES OFF WITH THEIR IMPULSES.
TED SIMONS: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOYS AND GIRLS HERE?
MICHAEL GURIAN: VERY SIGNIFICANT. THE MALE AND FEMALE BRAIN AND THEY'RE VERY DIFFERENT BRAINS. OF COURSE IT'S ON A SPECTRUM. SO SOME MALES ARE VERY EXTREME MALE. SOME FEMALES ARE VERY EXTREME FEMALE. SOME MALES AND FEMALES ARE MORE TOWARD THE MIDDLE. SO IF PEOPLE ARE PAIRING BOYS AND GIRLS, WE'RE CONSTANTLY SAYING TO THEM, YOU'RE PARENTING A HUMAN BEING, BUT YOU'RE ALSO PARENTING A BOY AND A GIRL.
TED SIMONS: BOYS AND GIRLS, WE CAN PARSE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM IN A SECOND HERE. BUT HANDLING STRESS. A BIGGIE FOR TEENAGERS.
MICHAEL GURIAN: VERY BIG. SO GIRLS, YOU KNOW, HAVE WORD CENTERS ON BOTH SIDES OF THEIR BRAIN AND THEY CONNECT THOSE WORD CENTERS TO THEIR EMOTIVE PARTS OF THE BRAIN. MALES ONLY DO IT HERE ON THE FRONT LEFT. FEMALES WILL TEND TO PROCESS MORE VERBALLY INTERNALLY AND VERBAL WITH OTHERS. FOUR OUT OF FIVE MALES ARE GOING TO TEND TO BE LESS VERBAL AND MORE PHYSICAL. USE MORE COMPETITIVE, MORE SPORTS, THESE SORTS OF THINGS. SO THEY'RE ALL HANDLING STRESS. THEY'LL TEND TO DO IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.
TED SIMONS: INTERESTING. DOES THE SAME THING APPLY TO FRIENDSHIPS, FOR EXAMPLE?
MICHAEL GURIAN: WELL, AGAIN, EVERYONE'S HUMAN, EVERYONE HAS FRIENDSHIPS. AS WE DRILL DOWN, WE REALIZE THAT WHEN WE MENTOR GIRLS AND MENTOR BOYS, WE'RE DOING A LOT OF THE SAME HUMAN STUFF, BUT FOR INSTANCE, IF MALES DON'T GET MALE ROLE MODELS TO MENTOR THEM BETWEEN ABOUT 13 AND 18, THEY'RE MORE LIKELY TO GO OFF THE RAILS. FEMALES, THEY SHOULD HAVE MALE MENTORS, IT'S GOOD FOR THEM. BUT THEY'RE LESS LIKELY TO GO TO PRISON AND DOT THINGS MALE WILL DO.
TED SIMONS: BECAUSE OF THE VERBALIZATION A OPPOSED THE ACTION?
MICHAEL GURIAN: WELL, MALES AND FEMALES BOTH HELP KIDS DEVELOP THOSE PATHWAYS IN DIFFERENT WAYS. DADS AND MOMS DO IT IN SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT WAYS. MALE MENTORS, FEMALE MENTORS IN DIFFERENT WAYS. SO PART OF THE JOURNEY OF THE TEEN IS TO JUST GET HUMAN CONTACT AND ATTACHMENT AND THEN FOR MALES AND FEMALES, IT'S TO TRY TO GET SOME OF THE MALES FOR MALES, FEMALES FOR FEMALES FOR SOME OF THE DEEP, DEEP STUFF ONLY THEY CAN UNDERSTAND.
TED SIMONS: MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING THE TEENAGE MIND. WHAT'S OUT THERE?
MICHAEL GURIAN: I THINK ONE IS PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE HOW IMPULSIVE IT IS. SO THEY WILL GIVE AN 11-YEAR-OLD A CELL PHONE WHICH I, IN MY MIND IS TOO EARLY. AND THE 11-YEAR-OLD BECAUSE THE 11-YEAR-OLD IS EXPLORING AND IS IMPULSIVE WILL DO THINGS ON THIS PHONE AND THEN THE PARENTS WILL GET REALLY MAD AND SAY, I DIDN'T TRAIN YOU TO BE THAT WAY. BUT IT'S THE PARENTS DIDN'T REALIZE THAT THAT 11-YEAR-OLD IS TOO IMPULSIVE TO HAVE ACCESS TO SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU KNOW, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. SO SOME OF IT IS WE DON'T REALIZE THAT THEY'RE SO IMPULSIVE AND THAT'S HOW THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE. SO WE DON'T WANT TO GIVE THEM TOOLS THAT ARE GOING TO MESS THEM UP. ANOTHER MYTH IS THAT MALES AND FEMALES AREN'T DIFFERENT OR THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO CARE THAT THEY'RE DIFFERENT. THAT'S A MYTH WE WANT TO, YOU KNOW, FIGHT AGAINST BECAUSE BOYS AND GIRLS DO NEED NURTURING IN WAYS THAT ARE HUMAN, BUT ALSO MALE AND FEMALE.
TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION. I ASKED YOU WHEN A TEENAGE MIND BECOMES A TEENAGE MIND. WHEN DOES A TEENAGE MIND STOP? BECOME AN ADULT.
MICHAEL GURIAN: FEMALES EARLIER THAN MALES, THREE TO FIVE YEARS EARLIER. OUR KIDS ARE MATURING LATER. SO A LOT OF THEM ARE NOT MATURING FULLY INTO ADULTHOOD UNTIL 25, 27 AND THAT'S ESPECIALLY MALES BECAUSE THEY'RE THREE OR FIVE YEARS BEHIND FEMALES.
TED SIMONS: OKAY. ALL RIGHT. THE LATEST BOOK, YOU'VE WRITTEN A LOT ON THIS. IT MUST BE FASCINATING TO STUDY. THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.
TED SIMONS: THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

ANNOUNCER: "ARIZONA HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

Dr. Michael Gurian: New York Times best-selling author

Originalism

Anti-Semitism

Season of Light: Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir
airs Dec. 12

Season of Light: Christimas with the Tabernacle Choi

Lucy Worsley on the Mystery Queen
aired Dec. 3

Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley on the Mystery Queen

Pavlo: Live in Santorini
aired Dec. 3

Don’t miss ‘Pavlo: Live in Santorini’

aired Nov. 28

Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: