Skip to content


Foster your child’s ability to exercise self-control.
Foster your child’s ability to exercise self-control.

To help your child become an autonomous and resilient learner:

Foster his ability to exercise self-control.

The teenage brain is incredibly plastic and ripe for learning. As Dr. Laurence Steinberg explains in his book Age of Opportunity, this makes adolescence both a vulnerable time (because the brain can be damaged by harmful experiences) and a time of extraordinary opportunity.

The part of the brain that is most actively changing and adapting during adolescence is the pre-frontal cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for executive functioning: things like differentiating between conflicting concepts, planning and organizing, and exercising self-control.

Throughout his book, Steinberg stresses the importance self-control to adolescent success and wellbeing. A person who can exercise self-control is better able to persevere and delay gratification and is less likely to take unnecessary risks or succumb to stress.

To help your child develop self-control, stick to the basic principles of authoritative parenting:

• Show your child affection and respect; this will make him feel safe and self-confident.
• Establish predictable and healthy routines for him; this will help him develop good habits.
• Set challenges for your child; this will expose him to appropriate levels of risk and reward.
• Give your child responsibilities; this will help him develop autonomy and self-sufficiency.