Why Smart Teens Do Not-So-Smart Things

All teenagers feel that they have absolute power in their lives and that nothing and no one can stand in their way. They are between two worlds: that of being a child and that of becoming an adult. All this will make them want to explore outside of their paternal/maternal dependency and at the same time feel their independence. Adolescents need to make their own decisions, although they are not always the best decisions.

Teenagers feel greatness within them, but sometimes that greatness is disguised as poor choices. These poor decisions can be driven by the same mechanics that also make them more courageous, creative, compassionate, bold, daring, and innovative as well. Adolescents begin to have qualities that they did not have before, but they need their parents’ guidance so as not to get lost along the way.

In order to understand the bad decisions of adolescents and help them to learn from their consequences or, on some occasions, to prevent them from committing them… it will be very important that we know as parents why adolescents, even the most intelligent, make decisions that are not so intelligent.

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They want to take risks

During adolescence, the world opens up to teens. They have a need for novelty, adventure, and challenges that will help them explore what they are capable of and how they can stretch their own limits.

Growth and development The learning that comes from it is essential for them to become less dependent on the family and to be able to enter the world of adults as emotionally healthy and balanced people, as well as independent. What happens is that this need for exploration and experimentation can sometimes lead them to risky situations with bad consequences.

They want to feel dopamine

Dopamine is released every time we have something we want. In the adolescent brain, the levels of this are lower than in adults, so it may seem low at times, but when it is released, it reaches levels much higher than in adults.


Low levels make teens more likely to feel bored or indifferent, but when they get dopamine in their brain, they’ll feel great. This is fine. if they manage to have dop high amine when you take out the trash or clean your bedroom… but the reality is that dopamine is released in teens when they try new things. There are adolescents who seek to feel this dopamine and sometimes, it can be through safe experiences, but other times, it may not be so safe.

Decisions can be impulsive

Al beginning of adolescence, the adolescent brain has millions of new neurons, which will help them in their transition to adult life. But in the meantime, the brain will need to strengthen the connections and some areas of the brain. One of the first parts to develop is the amygdala, which is involved in instinctive, impulsive and emotional reactions. When it comes to a matter of survival, the amygdala is the one in charge of keeping us alive, but nowadays it is the one that helps us make good decisions as well as the prefrontal cortex, which helps us solve problems. , to have a sensitive part in us, it is the logic of the brain that is capable of calming the most instinctive and impulsive reactions considering the consequences.

The problem is without However, the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until people reach the age of 24. Until then, decision-making will be heavily influenced by the amygdala. Decisions will be driven more by instinct and impulse than by rational, thoughtful consideration or consequences. The adolescent brain has always been compared to a high-performance car: it has all the capacity and power… but no brakes.