Our mind does not grow at the same rate that our body grows.
We may physically mature but mental growth lags behind. It has to do with the growth of our thinking brain which is called the frontal cortex. Frontal cortex is responsible for the regulation of our emotional expression as it simultaneously co-ordinates our behavior. The growth of the frontal cortex continues up through our adolescent years until the early years of our adulthood.
During this phase of growth the learning takes place as we interact with our environment. Our individual gene plays a significant role in the way our learning occurs and behaviors formed. Every experience we encounter the brain preserves in the form of a neuronal circuit. So learned behavior from our past experiences can be recalled and repeated when similar switches are ignited. We tend to repeat those behaviors which give us rewards in the form of pleasure or relief of uncomfortable symptoms. In this process we learn behaviors which are appropriate and also acquire behaviors which are inappropriate. Examples are behaviors which are acquired to avoid unpleasant situations. It takes away the discomfort and is viewed as a reward. This process avoids learning situations necessary for us to have to cope with adult life events. For this child avoidance becomes the way to cope.
During this stage of growth emotional difficulties leading to inappropriate coping or indulging in drugs or alcohol to relieve discomfort.
It is important to understand that the brain is in the process of growth and mind is in the formative stage. Any insult to the brain in the form of drug ingestion will have an adverse affect on the growth of the brain. This is also true in circumstances where a child has been subjected to abuse with malformation of the structure of the brain.
Parental guidance, interaction with our environment, relationship with care- taker, our engagement or disengagement from learning situations in life goes to shape our inner world. It shapes our expectation of self and others, tells us how the world is to be perceived, helps in the formation of our self-concept, influences the way we think and reveals the way we look to the outside world through the display of our attitudes.
An organized inner world is the strength we all need to adapt effectively to our outer world, our family, society, and our job.