Books and Articles

I have written widely about all aspects of adolescence.  Here is a small sample of my writing.


The teacher and the teenage brain

The Teacher and the Teenage Brain

Publication Date: 27th May, 2021
Publisher: Routledge.

The Teacher and the Teenage Brain is essential reading for all teachers and students of education.  This book offers a fascinating introduction to teenage brain development, and shows how this knowledge has changed the way we understand young people.  It provides a critical insight into strategies for improving relationships in the classroom and helping both adults and teenagers cope better with this stage of life.

Dr John Coleman shows how teachers and students can contribute to healthy brain development.  The book includes information about memory and learning, as well as guidance on motivation and the management of stress.  Underpinned by his extensive work with schools, Dr Coleman offers advice on key topics including the importance of sleep, the social brain, moodiness, risk and risk-taking and the role of hormones.  This book is extensively illustrated with examples from classrooms and with interviews with teachers.  It explicitly links research and practice to create a comprehensive, accessible guide to new knowledge about teenage brain development and its importance for education.

Accompanied by a website providing resources for running workshops with teachers and parents, as well as an outline of a lesson plan for students, The Teacher and the Teenage Brain offers an innovative approach to the understanding of the teenage brain. This book represents an important contribution to teacher training and to the enhancement of learning in the classroom.  More information.



John Coleman has an outstanding skill in communicating complex ideas to a wide audience.    A ‘must-read’ for students of education and for teachers, The Teacher and the Teenage Brain provides compelling and easily accessible information and insight into one of psychology’s great challenges.’
Ingrid Lunt, University of Oxford, UK

Direct translation from neuroscience to education is challenging, but Coleman is a perfect example of how it can be done well.   He shows how new neuroscience findings can help teachers understand their pupils, teenagers gain an insight into the changes they are going through, and parents understand and perhaps interact better with their children.    This book is a great example of how education can be advanced by multiple contributions of the social and biological sciences.’
Professor Michael Thomas, Birkbeck University of London, UK

‘There are experiences that assist brain development and experiences that are not so helpful Doesn’t everyone want to know what these are?    Read this accessible overview of what we can now know and do to optimise healthy brain development in our teenagers’ crucial years.’    Let’s get this information into the hands of educators, parents and carers, and create agency for our teens.’
Sylvia Jennings, Assistant Head, and Matt Warren, Headteacher, Presdales School, Hertfordshire, UK

‘In this fascinating book, John Coleman describes the recent science on the teenage brain, from hormones and sleep to risk-taking and social interaction to mental health and mental illness, and how this evidence is relevant for the classroom.    Coleman writes about scientific findings in a way that will engage anyone interested in teaching and nurturing young people.’
Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, University of Cambridge.

If you are looking for an essential primer on all matters relating to the adolescent brain, learning and development, read this book.   As a Headteacher, I feel that, if this book was turned into an INSET day, my staff would come away feeling enlightened and enthused.     This should be a compulsory part of all teacher training.
Rob Shadbolt, Head Teacher, Wood Green School, Witney, Oxon.

The book …. provides an accurate and up-to-date primer on the essentials of how the brain functions.    It is a highly useful source of professional knowledge for any teacher. It’s rare to see a book focusing on the neuroscience of the teenage learner in particular, and as well as informing readers, it will help to dispel a few myths.’
Jonathan Firth,
University of Strathclyde, UK

Why Won’t My Teenager Talk To Me?

Why Won't My Teenager Talk to Me?Do you wish your son or daughter would tell you more about what is happening in their life, and that they would open up to you more often? Are you worried about them as they seem to be spending more and more time in their bedroom and on their smart phone? The teenage years can be a time of concern and worry for parents and carers from all backgrounds. However, Why Won’t My Teenager Talk to Me? offers the parent and care-giver insightful and practical advice, as to how to encourage positive and respectful two-way communication between you and your teenager.

The new edition of this essential book offers a positive way of thinking about the teenage years. So much has changed in the last five years since the book first appeared. Our knowledge of the human brain has increased, and this new edition includes a whole chapter devoted to the changing teenage brain. The social world of the teenager has also continued to change. Alongside the voices of a wide range of parents and carers of teenagers, Dr John Coleman explores this changing social landscape, addressing issues like social media, mental health, and gender.

Communication is really at the heart of Dr John Coleman’s message – talking and listening are essential – and this book offers up new and valuable ways in which communication can help the parent and care-giver manage family life during the adolescent stage of life. It will also be useful to professionals working with young people in the fields of social work, counselling, health, and education.

The Nature of AdolescenceThe Nature of Adolescence

The fourth edition of this successful textbook provides an up-to-date introduction to all of the key features of adolescent development. While drawing on the North American literature on adolescence, it highlights European perspectives and also provides unique coverage of the topic by summarising and reviewing what is known about adolescence from a British viewpoint.

Comprehensively updated and rewritten, this edition includes material on new topics such as:

• The development of the adolescent brain
• Sleep patterns in adolescence
• Parenting programmes for parents of teenagers
• Health, including sport and exercise, nutrition and obesity, and mental health
• Education and schooling
• Young people’s use of digital technologies
• New approaches to resilience and coping.

The book places a particular emphasis on a positive view of adolescence, and the author develops a new theoretical perspective which looks at how young people themselves construct and shape their own developmental pathways. Interview material taken from discussions with adolescents is included throughout the book, and there are sample essay questions and PowerPoint lecture slides available online.

This is an essential text for anyone studying human development at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as on postgraduate courses for professionals including teachers, social workers, health workers, counsellors, and youth workers.

Parents and Digital TechnologyParents and Digital Technology

Children today are digital natives, growing up in an age where social media and online communication is the norm. This book is an indispensable guide for parents who may feel they are struggling to keep up, addressing the issues that young people and their families face in the world of modern technology. Suzie Hayman, a parenting counsellor, and John Coleman, a distinguished psychologist, use their combined expertise to explore the challenges and possibilities of being constantly connected, helping parents to make choices about how they communicate, set boundaries and establish rules.

Using real-world examples and solid psychological theory, the book looks first at the anxieties parents express about digital technology, followed by the serious potential threats such as cyber-bullying, sexting and easy access to pornographic or violent materials. However, the internet is also full of enormous potential and a further chapter explores the positive side of the digital playground. The authors also share their expert understanding of child and adolescent development and how this relates to the appeal of digital media, with special attention paid to the importance of good communication. The end result is a toolbox for parents, full of tips, strategies and techniques designed to help navigate the digital world, ensuring it is safe yet still exciting for young people.

Parents and Digital Technology is essential reading for all parents and guardians as well as those caring for children and teenagers in a professional setting, who want to get the best out of life and modern technology while keeping safe in a family that talks to each other, spends time with each other and enjoys each other.


Working with parents of teenagers

This article was written for the Parenting UK Newsletter in 2013.   Introduction Support for parents of teenagers can play a critical role in helping families cope with difficult situations, and ensuring that problems first identified in the adolescent years do not...

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Social media and teenagers, a practical approach

Is social media damaging the mental health of young people? It’s important to look behind the headlines. There is no doubt that today social media is seen by adults as representing a major threat to young people. There is much debate in the press and in public about...

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This chapter appeared as Chapter 2.3 in “The Blackwell Companion to Social Work: 4th Edition” by Martin Davies, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2013. What is adolescence? Lifespan theory as an aid to understanding adolescence Social change The importance of the family...

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