A comment I often hear from parents is, “She is so smart, how could she (get pregnant/ take drugs/ drive drunk/ shoplift/ send out naked pictures of herself/ trust a man she met online/ get that tattoo when she’s going to job interviews…)?” Obviously, the options are endless, but the real issue is- how do teenagers who are very intelligent, often do well in school, and obviously understand many adult concepts, do something phenomenally short-sighted, impulsive, or just plain dumb?
We are tempted to associate academic intelligence or cultural literacy with other forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence or maturity. To us, it makes sense that a teen who excels in one form of intelligence would be advanced in others.
It’s true that successful teens do tend to have positive character traits. Many teens who excel academically, or in more intellectual hobbies such as debate, youth government, or social justice work, possess more organization and tenacity than your average teen. However, teenage emotional regulation, judgment, and impulsiveness are usually underdeveloped at best. It’s not their fault- their brains are still developing full adult capacity for these traits. Read full post »