Your teenager may look like an adult but don’t assume that his or her brain looks like an adult’s brain too. As Frances Jensen points out in her recent book, “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults,” the brain is actually the last organ in the body to mature. It doesn’t fully mature until the mid- 20s. The frontal lobes of the teenage brain, which are responsible for judgment, impulse control, empathy and insight, are the last parts of the brain to mature.

So teens have these very active brains, with some parts that operate like adult brains, which are being driven by a driver who doesn’t have full access to the brakes yet. This makes the teenage years a challenging time because they want to be independent even when they don’t have the necessary skills or judgment yet to build their own lives. This disparity can undermine a teen’s self-confidence. Here are key ways you can help your teens believe in themselves during these crucial years.

1. Be patient. The latest neurological research offers us concrete insights into why our teens are sometimes impulsive or fickle. Understanding that at times they simply cannot think rationally should enable us to be more patient and supportive when they make mistakes.

2. Help them find a practical strength. Your teenager doesn’t have to show a talent in any specific area for you to help them find an activity that they can enjoy and learn. Whether it’s music or sports or community work, you can help your teenagers build their competence in any skill that they are interested in pursuing. Sometimes a strength can even just be a personality trait, like a giving nature, that needs to find a practical channel to be appreciated and actualized.

3. Teach persistence. When your teenager makes a mistake, show her ways to learn from it. When your son fails at something, teach him that most of us don’t succeed on our first tries. Try to share examples of times that you have failed and how you found ways to keep trying. Model resilience in your own life by not giving up on things that you really care about.

4. Show your child how to act confident. Teach your teenager practical ways to act confident in different situations. Encourage him to make eye contact, smile and focus on what he can do instead of what he is unable to accomplish. Teach her to show interest in other people’s activities and show her how to join conversations. You can also encourage your children to be proactive about what they want and walk away from situations that they know are harmful.

5. Praise effort. Emphasize how proud you are of the effort your child puts into achieving a goal, regardless of the outcome. Teach her that she can control her own actions and choices, but not the results of her efforts.

6. Ask for their opinion. Teenagers have a lot to say and can contribute helpful insights and suggestions in family discussions and plans. Ask your teenager for his opinion and listen without judging him. Teenagers appreciate being treated like adults and like to be recognized for their input.

7. Support them through the tough times. The times when it seems like your teenagers don’t really need you are often the times when they need you to reach out to them the most. Amidst the technological dangers and distractions that our teenagers face today, be vigilant in staying connected to them emotionally. Many studies show that parents’ advice, boundaries and guidance are crucial to teenagers’ well-being, even when they appear to reject the advice and attention. Learn to express love and acceptance for your teenager even when you are angry with them. This is a time period when they may not need our constant presence, but they definitely need our constant love.