Book Review: The Incredible Teenage Brain

It’s not often that I wholeheartedly recommend a parenting book. I can usually find something I disagree with… Or that I think could have been clearer/included/left out. But, parents of teenagers, this is actually a really good book! The Incredible Teenage Brain by Bettina Hohnen, Jane Gilmour and Tara Murphy is perfectly pitched. It’s an easy-to-read neuroscientific guide to teenagers with practical tips that parents and teachers can take away and apply. Will it make parenting your teenager easy? No. But it might help you understand him/her a little more and see how you can best be supportive.

Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into the physical side of the book – its size, font, spacing etc. The font is large and friendly, there are lots of spaces and subtitles, plus Q&As, illustrations and tables. All of which make it very easy to follow, despite the in depth neuroscience. The text is accessible without dumbing down the issues.

There are practical examples of how the unique development of the teenage brain manifests in teenage behaviour. Great for helping parents to decode teens! Plus suggested strategies on how to take into account teenage brain development in the way you parent your teen, support their development and respond to their behaviour. The case studies are very helpful, serving both to normalise typical teen quirks and to illuminate how parents might usefully respond (but without being prescriptive). However, The Incredible Teenage Brain is aimed at both teachers and parents so some of the examples won’t feel relevant to you (unless you are both a parent and a teacher of teens!),

My criticisms? It’s a little repetitive. But this may be because I am reading it as someone who already has a good grasp of the incredible teenage brain (both in practice and theory!). And there are a few moments when it veers a little close to guilt-inducing. When talking about teenagers, there is always a fine line to steer between ‘teens are like this because their brains make them that way and there is nothing you can do about it’ and ‘parents are responsible for doing all the right things in order for teenagers to be ok’. Thankfully, this book usually steers straight. But a few times my hackles did rise at repeated assertions about how vital it is for parents to get the environment right at this age. (As if I wasn’t already trying my damnedest to get my teen out of his room so I could provide a good environment and engage with that brain…).

In conclusion, if your teenager baffles you, this might well be the book that helps you get inside his/her head. Or, if it doesn’t sound like your thing, check out these other books on parenting teenagers to find an alternative.

This is not a sponsored post, I have not been paid to write it. I was asked by the publisher to review this book as parenting teenagers is a topic close to my heart! I did receive a free review copy of the book that they kindly let me keep. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy the book on Amazon UK, I will receive a small fee (see Disclosure Notice for more details).

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