Driving and Teen Brain Development


One of the topics we touch on in our parents of teen drivers class is the development of the adolescent brain. I recently attended a Parent University Class that is offered through the Mesa School District and is free to anyone who wants to attend. It is a four part series and parents are welcome to come to any or all of the classes. See below for information.

The first session I attended focused on identifying the characteristics of a “perfect teen” and then the “perfect parent.” Words such as respectful, good listener, responsible, organized, empathetic, resilient were a few of the words that came up. Interestingly enough, those same words were the words that described the perfect parent. The Coach, Eva Dwight, focuses on positive discipline where there is a high degree of firmness and a high degree of kindness.

Eva spent the remainder of the session talking about the brain development of an adolescent. There are clear growth spurts in the brain at different times throughout childhood. Other than the first 3 years of life, adolescence is the period during which the brain changes most rapidly. The frontal lobe does not fully develop until they are well into their 20’s and some studies suggest as late as 29 for males. When a teenager has an emotional response to a situation they are coming from their limbic system which is the seat of our emotions and where the fight or flight response forms.

What does all of this have to do with driving? Think about the practice that parents must do with their teenagers in order to help them develop their driving skills. We make it perfectly clear in our Parent Class that it is essential that parents are practicing with their students. DrivingMBA provides them with a wealth of knowledge and skill, but in order to make it part of their muscle memory, they MUST practice what they are learning. At age 16 a process of myelination is occurring that is allowing the brain to fine tune important brain functions. It is how muscle memory is created by practicing a skill over and over again.

I would invite parents to check out Eva Dwight’s program. She is a delightful facilitator, and does coaching with parents and students. You can contact her at endwightccc@gmail.com.


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