March 17,



Whether you have a personal health question or are just curious, you’ve come to the right place!  Use the menu to the left to find out more about specific topics related to youth health and the many community resources available to support you.

Youth: Understanding why they do what they do

Erin Walsh from Mind Positive Parenting  presented a recent Peterborough workshop on healthy adolescent development. Take away messages were that youth are a resource to be developed, not a problem to be solved, and brain development plays a large role in understanding why teens do what they do.

Here are a few things to think about when working with students:

  1. The human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. The last part of the brain to develop is the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) which acts as the brain’s risk assessment centre.  The ‘questionable’ decisions youth make are not because they aren’t thinking, but because their brain isn’t fully developed, or able to think in ways that will process risks. Opportunity: How can you encourage youth to take positive risks instead of negative ones?
  2. “Technology isn’t inherently good or bad; but it is powerful.” In an era where mobile technology and instant communication are the norm, look for ways to harness the good that technology provides. Opportunity:  How can you embrace technology in your lives?
  3. Praise. Can it do more harm than good? Students who receive praise for their efforts, rather than the outcome, are more likely to try more complicated tasks and accept new challenges. Dr. David Walsh explains the research here: Opportunity: Instead of “Good job”, try “You worked really hard on that!” or “How did you figure that out?”
  4. 4. “Practice makes perfect” – even for the human brain. What the brain does a lot of, the brain gets good at. The more students are challenged to show empathy, respect, and creativity, the more likely those behaviours are to become habits. Opportunity:  Have your students collectively create a Classroom Charter or Group Pledge that will set the stage for an environment that fosters creativity and empathy. Harvard University has produced a great video that explains the importance of early interventions for healthy brain development.

For more videos and resources on adolescent brain development visit

Last modified on Jul 18, 2016

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