How does an adolescent’s brain develop? A short guide


Brain development in adolescence is significantly different to that of the younger years, though it is also a time of significant brain development. As a child grows to adolescence, unused connections in the thinking and processing part of their brain are discarded and consistently used connections are strengthened. When children reach adolescence, the amygdala (associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour) is well developed, but the pre-frontal cortex (responsible for one’s ability to plan and think about the consequences of actions, solve problems and control impulses) doesn’t fully develop until a person is in their mid-20s. Thus, young people tend to rely on their amygdala to make decisions and solve problems.

Adolescents are thus more likely to act on impulse, try new things or relationships, misinterpret social cues and emotions or engage in risky behaviour. Though this explains some of the behaviours of an adolescent mind, it is important to note that these brain differences don’t mean that young people can’t make rational decisions or tell the difference between right and wrong, and it also doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions.

The Wishing Well foundation

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.

Support the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW.  Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:

  • Funding availability
  • The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
  • The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
  • Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person

The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information:



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