The Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress – A Book Review

By Karina Richland, M.A., E.T.

I just finished the book, Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress, by Sheryl Feinstein.  It is an easy read and I was able to finish the entire book in a few days.  It is a fabulous parenting guide and will really help parents and teachers understand the complexity of the teenage brain and give them some valuable insight into their teenager’s mind.

I was particularly interested in the chapters on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as well as Learning Disabilities and how we as parents and teachers can understand the abnormalities in many parts of the brain in our teenagers.  I did learn, that according to the research, there is clear evidence that there is a biological difference between the brains of ADHD individuals and others.

In Chapter 1, the book covers basic information on the teenage brain, how it differs from the adult brain and why adults find the teenager’s actions so challenging and confusing.  I especially enjoyed learning about the overproduction of dendrites and synaptic connections and how valuable education and learning is during these teenage years.  Adolescents are acquiring knowledge at an unprecedented rate during the teenage years.  The more the student is engaged in an activity, the more dendrites grow and build synaptic connections.   The teenager is given a second chance in life to really build up that brain! The more time that is dedicated to reading, writing, math, music, and sports – the better the brain is formed for the future.  Not only is the brain producing dendrites like crazy, but it is also going through a pruning process – use it or lose it!

Chapters 2 – 11 go into detail discussing social, emotional, physical, educational and technological issues that both parents and teenagers face daily.  Each chapter provides strategies for parents or teachers that work and also don’t work.

The entire book is written in a very parent-friendly manner.  The sections on neurology and neuroscience are easily understood and absolutely not intimidating.  I highly recommend this book to all parents and teachers. The more parents read, research and learn about the inner workings of their teenager’s brain, the better parents and teachers we all will be.


Karina Richland, M.A., E.T. is the Managing Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County.  A former teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District, Ms. Richland is a Reading and Learning Disability Specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at: or visit the Pride Learning Center website at: