AFL program staff should have realistic expectations of the readiness for specific responsibilities of adolescents that they serve. Staff must do their best to understand the science behind adolescent development and how development affects adolescent behavior. In addition, it is important that AFL program staff avoid making excuses for teens that make unhealthy decisions simply because their brains are not fully developed. Learning more about each individual adolescent served in your program will help in adjusting your expectations to match each adolescent’s needs and where they are in the development process; keeping in mind that underdevelopment of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system make adolescents more prone to “behave emotionally or with ‘gut’ reactions.”
When an intervention strategy for engaging teens is not effective, do not take it personally but instead try an alternate method for engaging the teen.
AFL program staff should serve as role models of healthy behavior to match the expectations for teens in their programs.
Below are examples of ways to engage teens that tap into the developing parts of their brains.