Brain Development

Your teenage years are a time of exciting changes, both inside and outside of your body. One of the most fascinating changes is happening right inside your head, in your brain. Your brain is on an amazing journey of growth and development, shaping the way you think, learn, and experience the world.

Let's find out a bit more about the changes going on inside your brain right now!

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All You Need to Know

Growing connections

During your teenage years, your brain is like a busy city, with construction workers building new connections and roads every day. These connections are like tiny bridges that allow information to pass from one connection to another. As you learn new things and have new experiences, these connections multiply and strengthen, just like the city expanding it's road network.

Imagine your brain as a big puzzle, and each new connection you form is like adding another piece to that puzzle. The more connections you make, the clearer the picture becomes. So the more connections your brain makes, the better it works.

Think about how you learned to ride a bike. At first, it was difficult to balance and control your movements. But with practice, your brain created new connections, making it easier for you to pedal, steer, and maintain your balance. Those connections became stronger with each ride, until you could easily cruise along the street.

Emotional journey

As your brain develops, the emotions you feel can become more powerful and intense.

There will be moments of joy and happiness and you should make the most of these. Let them lift your mood and use them to motivate you to keep chasing your dreams.

However, there will also be times when you face difficult emotions like sadness, frustration, or anger.

Dealing with these emotions can be tricky, but there are ways you can manage them. Try to recognise what you're feeling and why. Understanding the reasons why you feel a certain way will help you respond more calmly.

Learning to control your emotions is also very important. You could try letting your feelings out by writing in a diary, talking to someone you trust, or doing an activity you enjoy. It's helpful to be able to relax, so things like deep breathing or mindfulness can be really useful when you are feeling stressed.

Social influences

The people you spend time with and the things you watch and read can have a big effect on how you see the world around you.

One important social influence is your friends and classmates, also known as your peer group. They can have a big say on your interests, fashion choices and the activities you take part in.

Your family also has a strong influence on your behaviour and beliefs. They can help you develop a sense of right and wrong and give you love and stability. You may also feel like you don't have this with your family.

The media, including TV shows, movies, music, and social media, also plays a part. It can influence your ideas about beauty, success and what is considered normal - but it's important to remember that not everything you see in the media reflects real life.

Learning & memory boost

During your teenage years, your brain continues to get better at learning and remembering information.

Do plenty of activities that test your brain, such as reading, studying and problem-solving - these can help sharpen your memory and boost your ability to learn.

Balancing risk

You will come across situations that involve taking risks. Balancing risk means finding a middle ground between being careful and trying new things. It's about making smart choices that keep you safe while also allowing you to explore and learn.

When balancing risk, it's important to think about potential dangers and how you can protect yourself. If you play sport, wear the correct safety gear and follow the rules to reduce the risk of getting hurt. If you're using the internet, be aware of online safety measures to protect your personal information.

It doesn't mean you shouldn't take any risks and try something new. Whether it's trying a new hobby, joining a club, or speaking up in class, pushing yourself in a safe space can boost your confidence and lead to exciting opportunities.

Think about what might happen and what the benefits are and don't be afraid to ask advice from a trusted adult.

Never worry about making mistakes - everyone makes them and it's how we learn to do things properly.

Sleep for success

Getting enough sleep is incredibly important. It is your body's chance to rest and recharge.

Your brain works better when you get enough sleep. You can concentrate better, remember things more easily, and think more clearly. It's like giving your brain a power boost! So, if you want to do your best in exams or when studying, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Sleep affects your emotions too. When you don't get enough sleep, you might feel cranky or easily upset. But when you're well-rested, you're more likely to have a positive mood and be better able to handle stress.

Sleep helps your body stay strong and it can help you fight off germs and stay healthy.

Who Can Help?

You can talk to your parents or carers, or a trusted adult within your school or setting, or any trusted friend.

If you are over 16 you can contact the NHS Talking Therapies Service Norfolk and Waveney (known as Wellbeing Service) on 0300 123 1503 (9am – 5pm).

Kooth offers online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support 7 days a week until 10pm. 

MAP Norfolk can give free and confidential support, information and advice on issues such as housing, money and mental health. You can call 01603 766994 or email info@map.uk.net.

If you live in Norfolk:

If you're 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for anonymous and confidential advice and guidance from a health professional. Chat Health is available Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.

You can also contact the Norfolk Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you live in Waveney:

You can call the Suffolk School Nursing service on 0345 607 8866 or email childrenshealth@suffolk.gov.uk.

Urgent Mental Health Support

For 24/7 immediate advice, support and signposting for anyone with mental health difficulties please contact 111 and select the mental health option. 

If you feel someone's life is at risk or they cannot be kept safe, call 999 or go to A&E.

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