There is a great deal of research now occurring concerning the brain and how it works. Recent research indicates that the part of the brain that influences decision-making and problem-solving is not fully developed during the teen years. The frontal lobes which help control risk-taking and thrill-seeking are not fully developed until around age 20. This causes teenagers to feel invincible and not fully consider the consequences of their choices. If teens know about this research, they might possibly be more open to the acceptance of the advice of parents, teachers and others who are older.

Below are six primary steps to decision-making for teens. If parents are aware of these steps, they can pass them along to their daughters and sons and better help them with decision-making. The six steps recommended for decision-making by teens are:

List the choices.

Think about the pros and cons of each choice. Assess the likelihood of the consequences actually happening. Compare the consequences and their importance. Decide and act. Evaluate the consequences, both expected and unexpected.

Parents need to help teens see options when they list choices. It is difficult for teens to see more than one or two options. At this point, they may feel more influence from the opinions of friends. Parents may need to point out that the friends may not have thought of all of the options available.

If parents are patient, teens often welcome their advice. When parents become involved, it is evidence to the young person that the parent cares. There are times when the parent must make the final decision no matter how much conversation has occurred. However, the process of involving the teen has long-lasting benefits. Although the teen may not seem cooperative, the process itself becomes imbedded in the mind of that person to help in the next decision. This process should be repeated over and over to ensure that the teen understands the steps to decision-making. When young people are involved in the decision, they are more likely to follow it.

The teen years are a transitioning time between the total dependence on parents as a child and independence from parents as an adult. The safety of the teen is foremost, but as much as possible with this in mind, teens need to be allowed to make decisions with the understanding that the parent has the last word.