March 06th, 2020

Episode 16 - Jane Gilmore and Bettina Hohnen

The Incredible Teenage Brain

This week’s episode is with Dr Bettina Hohnen and Dr Jane Gilmour who are both clinical psychologists working with children and young people. 

Bettina supports children, young people and families to thrive through strengthening relationships and understanding our brains. She regularly gives talks and runs workshops for parents and teachers on mental health and neuroscience.Jane is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital. She has been working therapeutically with young people, families, school staff and adults supporting young people for over 20 years.

Bettina and Jane have recently published a book with their colleague Tara Murphy called The Incredible Teenage Brain: everything you need to know to unlock a teen’s potential. This is a book for adults supporting teenagers which takes cutting edge brain research and puts it into very accessible language, considering what it means in a day to day context for parents, teachers and professionals supporting young people. 

If you are a parent of a teenager who appears to have morphed overnight from a quite likeable child into an alien being who is completely self-absorbed and who takes offence at everything you say or if you still have a likeable child who is about to hit puberty this is the episode for you. Bettina and Jane unlock the wonders of the adolescent brain and help parents understand why their teenage children behave the way they do and why they NEED to do so. They help us to see that this period of development is not an aberration, that the teenage brain is not broken, but that it is uniquely adapted for the developmental goals of a teenager and is absolutely fit for purpose. 

Listen to this episode with Bettina and Jane if you want to learn: 

  • About the changes to the teenage brain that make it perfectly adapted to what teenagers need to deal with and learn in adolescence (which is longer than you might think!)
  • About the 3 big issues that teens are grappling with:
    • Social integration
    • Identity
    • Separation from families
    • Why teenagers need to argue. Yes, need.
  • What makes the adolescent brain different from an adult or child’s brain
  • About the connection between a teenager’s feelings and learning
  • How the teenage brain’s sensitivity to rewards can be utilised for learning through positive reinforcement, especially using social rewards
  • How to encourage your teenagers to do the things you think are important by tapping into what motivates them
  • Why the urge to be with peers is so strong and how social pain is experienced as strongly as physical pain
  • How Carol Dweck’s mindset work applies in a social context and how parents can help their teens develop a growth mindset to deal with social pain. (see module one in our in-person and online courses for how Descriptive Praise helps parents develop a growth mindset)
  • About the drive for adolescent novelty-seeking and how to manage teenage risk-taking and in fact encourage teens to take positive risks
  • Why teenagers are so thin-skinned. Hint: it’s not ‘just’ down to their hormones. (Top tip: don’t dismiss or minimise your teen’s emotions. See module two in our in-person and online courses on Emotion Coaching to help teens learn to regulate their emotions)
  • About the research that shows that parents can be the ‘significant other’ in their child’s life that helps them to deal with the pain of adolescence when we come alongside them. 

In our celebration of vulnerability and perfect imperfection Bettina and Jane share with us Low Parenting Moments of their own. 

And the ladies also share their top tips for raising teens to be confident, happy and successful.  


To get in touch with Bettina and Jane: 

Dr Bettina Hohnen

Dr Jane Gilmour



Posted in: Brain function , Discipline , Teenagers




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