Press Centre

Secrets of Growing Up

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 08 Jun 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 23 2016 : Sat 04 Jun - Fri 10 Jun
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 31 May.
Secrets of Growing Up
Growing up is the most astonishing transformation: one moment we’re cute and cuddly bundles of joy and everybody loves us, but next we’re bursting with emotions, and spots, and everybody hates us - or so it seems.
We reveal the surprising secrets of growing up, that over 20 years turn us from helpless toddlers to wide-eyed children, and from moody teenagers into accomplished adults. 
As babies we may start on an equal footing, but during early childhood it’s long been the embarrassment of many a small boy that girls develop quicker. Scientists have revealed that the parts of the brain we use for language grow larger in girls, and that can help them understand the world much faster. 5 year old Sienna Adderley from Rugby proved this during an emergency, and likely saved her mum, Katie’s life after she collapsed at home. 
Despite the turmoil, Sienna deliberately had used the home telephone when contacting the emergency services so the police could trace her address. Such logical thinking was initially believed to not occur until adolescence, however new research shows such behaviour can begin from the age of three. Impressed by her act of bravery, Tim Thorpe of Warwickshire police who received Sienna’s call says: “For a five year old, I thought that was absolutely amazing, any parent in the world would be immensely proud of what she has achieved and what she did on that day”.
Boys’ and girls’ brains may differ during early childhood, but their bodies are equally vulnerable to the rough and tumble of growing up. Nature, though has cleverly designed some amazing ways to protect each of us, and these provided 5 year old Jayden Channell from Essex with a miraculous escape when in 2014 he was struck by a car travelling at 35mph. Jayden’s mother Samantha says: “Everyone was in panic, my world had come crashing down”. However he walked away from the accident with a mere graze. 
By the time we become officially ‘teenagers’ our brains have largely caught up with much of our physical growth and go into overdrive – to develop our intelligence. 
Jamie Edwards from Preston was 13 when he became the youngest person in the world to build a working nuclear reactor. He overcame fears of radiation to build an experiment that needed 20,000 volts of electricity. 
Although Jamie’s passion of complex physics is not shared with all teenagers, it inspired a surprising reaction from fellow students. The head-teacher of Jamie’s school says:“Not long after he was just walking down the corridor past these year eleven’s who are oldest pupils in the school, they spontaneously broke in to applause”. 
There’s one thing that’s baffled Scientists for years: why do teenagers stay in bed past midday? Maud Buckle was one of them and felt like a zombie. Her parents were concerned that she would fail her ‘A’ levels, that is until they realised her body clock – like all teenagers – is shifted by around 2 hours. Maude’s father says, “She was obviously struggling and it was quite obvious the regime of school was having a negative impact on her”. 
Maud moved to a revolutionary new school where students are allowed to start at 11am. She passed her exams with flying colours and then went on to gain a degree. Evidently relieved from his daughter’s ordeal, Maude’s father added: “There came a ray of light and you know its going to be alright, I am very proud of her”. 
Recently, scientists have discovered the reason teenagers love to do risky, dangerous things is hard-wired. But, surprisingly, the benefits of risk-taking can be huge. 17 year-olds Tyler Scarr and Matt Chisholm from Cumbria were on their way to a party when they saw a blazing barn and decided to investigate. Even though it was full of terrified bulls they didn’t stop to think and, despite suffering smoke inhalation and burns, saved the farmer’s valuable livestock. Matt spoke of the experience and says: “I thought to myself, I am not coming out of here”. The farmer Mark Hogarth spoke of the teenagers bravery and says: “Not everyone would call it heroic, but I think I would, I have thanked them a thousand times but I have also told them I wouldn’t want them to do it again”. 
Other teenagers go out of their way to look for risky situations, like Harry Gallagher. He decided to take his gym skills out on the streets, becoming an expert at scaling skyscrapers to take amazing, long-exposure photos of London’s skyline. Discussing his hobby, Harry says: “I just love risk and I love pushing myself, and its all about pushing your comfort zone and taking that risk and progressing with your life”.
In the final stage of growing up we all face one of the toughest challenges: to become emotionally mature. Danny Bowman was just 14 when he began taking selfies, trying to get the perfect image to impress girls. Soon he was taking hundreds every day and was diagnosed Britain’s first selfie addict. Reflecting on this trialling time, Danny says: “I felt like my brain was on overdrive, things were going on like fireworks, I was thinking I am still not good enough”. It was only after he’d matured emotionally that he could control his addiction, and now works to help other teenagers who suffer in the same way he did. 
One of the most memorable milestones of growing up emotionally is first love. Alan Dawson and Elaine Sunshine first met on a paper round in Basildon. After dating for just 7 months they were forced apart, yet the intensity of their love never diminished. Being forced to move away from Basildon, Alan was extremely upset and reflects: “I didn’t want to move, I didn’t know what to do, it did break my heart and I think it broke Elaine’s heart as well”. Despite having no contact at all for 27 years, Elaine decided she had to find Alan, and after falling in love again, they married in May 2015, at last.
We are only now discovering the many extraordinary things that happen to us as our bodies grow, and our minds mature, revealing that the way we grow up is what makes us who we are, in all our amazing detail. We may start off helpless, but the journey we make, growing up to become skilful, emotionally mature, and intelligent, is no mean achievement.