Highlights from the First BN Parents’ Speaker Series Event: Adolescence

Kristy Braun, Nurse Practitioner from OSF Pediatrics, spoke to a group of parents and teachers this month at the first BN Parents’ Speaker Series Event hosted by OSF Center for Healthy Lifestyles.  The conversation was two-way and, the information shared, valuable.

For those not able to attend, here are the basics on Adolescence as shared by Kristy Braun:


Physiologically: Prefrontal cortex is not developed (not fully until 20’s); therefore, they do not think of future consequences and the pleasure/reward center of the brain takes over.

Early Adolescents (10-13)

  • Beginning to search for independence
  • Conformity (need to fit in)
  • Physical Changes
  • Decrease in self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Moodiness and impulsive
  • Awkwardness
  • Feel as though they are on stage(occupied by self, body image and self-centered)
  • Need for increase of privacy
  • Day dreamers
  • Sexual autonomy (have many questions – where do they get answers)
  • Peers: usually same sex and cliques of conformity

Middle Adolescents (14-17)

  • Finding identity is important
  • Need to feel unique but still fit in
  • Try different roles (may change looks)
  • Experiment and risk taking
  • Strong sense of immortality
  • Increasing importance of peer values over parental values
  • Increase of intensity of feelings
  • Body image important and will spend time and $$ to look good
  • Increase involvement in relationships

Late Adolescents (17-?)

  • Struggle with identity and separation
  • Peers less important
  • Relationship over groups
  • Developing rational conscience
  • Develop values and do recognize parental values
  • Able to set limits

Parenting Tips

  • Provide a safe consistent home
  • Communication is key:
    • “I” messages, not “you..”
    • LISTEN to them
    • Rephrase
    • If talking is hard, write notes
  • Spend time with them
  • Provide clear rules and consequences (limit-setting)
  • Do not over control, especially as they are maturing
  • Decide what is annoying and what needs intervention
  • Things that do not work (at any age)
    • Spontaneous discussions when only one side is engaged
    • Nagging
    • Lecturing
    • Arguing

Red Flags

  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Decrease in grades
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Change in sleep
  • Decreased enjoyment in activities they liked before
  • Change or decrease in social relationships

Changes to Consider

Technology and Social Media

  • Everything is at their fingertips
  • Social Media not recommended until 13
  • Recommend no more than two hours of screen time outside of school
  • Use is causing an increase in anxiety and Depression and decrease in happiness
  • Drop your device around your children! Set an example


  • Shift from alcohol to marijuana
  • Many teens (and parents) think it is harmless. It is not.
  • Use during can lead to
    • Decrease in IQ
    • Mental health issues including schizophrenia
    • Brain damage
    • Poor decision making (It is a drug)