Try this do-it-yourself experiment

How is a jar full of glitter like a teenage brain?

Dr. Lisa Damour discovered the answer during a visit to a Dallas girls’ school. “When a girl falls apart in my office, I do this,” a counselor told Dr. Damour, shaking a jar of purple glitter before setting it on a table. “After that, I say to her, ‘Honey, this is your brain right now. So first … let’s settle your glitter.”

The clinical psychologist and bestselling author watched the swirl of glitter slowly return to the bottom of the jar. “Sitting right there was an elegant model of the neurology of the distressed teenager,” she wrote in her column in the New York Times.

During adolescence our glitter is more likely to get shaken up because the prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain that helps us make smart decisions, think rationally and see things clearly— is still under construction.

Beyond its use to teens, Dr. Damour explained the lesson of patience that swirling glitter offers to caregivers: “Communicate your confidence that emotions almost always rise, swirl and settle all by themselves.”

Just in case you want to create your own desktop reminder that calm follows a storm, here are some DIY instructions


  • Clear, empty jar
  • Glitter glue (about ¼ cup)
  • Glitter
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Super Glue


  • Pour glitter glue into the jar. Add hot water and mix.
  • Next, add glitter and a drop of food coloring. Mix some more.
  • Super Glue the lid to the top of the jar.