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Book Discussion

Why Do They Act That Way?
by David Walsh

Chapter 1: Making Sense of
o  Appreciating Adolescents
o  No longer a Child but Not Yet an Adult
o  Physical Changes in the Teen Brain
(see next slide)
o  Parenting/Teaching Style- what is
yours? We will classify later.

Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Chapter 1 (continued)
o  Physical Changes in Teen Brain
Even though the teen brain does not alter in size or
shape, astounding amount of growth left.
Give teens the connection, guidance, and love they need
even when they are being difficult.
It takes persistence and consistency in your messages
and behavior.
Teens need their parents/teachers to expect the best of
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Don’t ignore potentially serious problems. Compare notes with other parents. Don’t panic if things get rocky with your teen. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Refresh your memory about your own adolescence. Don’t become a “doormat” for disrespectful behavior.Do’s and Don’ts Do’s Don’ts Attend parent conferences and events at school. Learn about adolescent growth. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

amygdala. organ.Chapter 2: A Guided Tour of Their Brain o  Brain Basics: brain. hippocampus. in charge of unconscious physiological functions like breathing Limbic System: in charge of emotion contains the hypothalamus. and ventral striatal (see next page) Cortex: in charge of reasoning especially the prefrontal 80% of brain performance is done in the cortex (see next page) Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . mind what the brain does o  Brain Structure Brain Stem: inner part.

managing emotional impulses. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .More on Brain Structure o  In the Cortex is the Prefrontal Cortex. the brain’s “CEO” is responsible for planning ahead. considering consequences. (PFC). and is the brain’s conscience.

Breakdown of Limbic System Amygdala: seat of fear and anger Hippocampus: memories Hypothalamus: center for the body’s endocrine or hormone center Ventral striatal (VS) circuit: motivation Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

  Use it or lose it 2. the axon Bottom line: all of these processes continue to develop during adolescence. Experiences during these periods. Myelination (insulation of nerve cells): Certain developing areas of the brain are more susceptible during teen years. Opportunities to build positive neural connections – opposite is true. physically shape the brain’s neural networks and have a huge impact on how the brain gets wired. The more we encourage teens to think before they speak or act. Experience determines which neural connections survive and which wither away.  The window of opportunity One circuit that develops in the teen brain enables them to manage strong emotional responses. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .5 Processes of Brain Development 1. the stronger those connections become. White fatty substance that covers the main cable of the neuron. more than any other time.  The window of sensitivity: 5. 4. Teens who are never held accountable for taking charge of their impulses have difficulty developing this crucial skill.  Blossoming and pruning 3.

o  Adults are the “brakes” of the sports cars. o  Set limits and consequences.Chapter 3: Why Adolescences are Impulsive o  Because the PFC is the CEO of the brain. they do not have the impulse control of adults. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Since it is still developing in teens. its job is to think ahead to the consequences and to control impulses that shoot out of other regions of the brain. Teens must learn how to control.

Don’t let your adolescent get his/her way when they throw a tantrum.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Set clear rules and expectations. Don’t make consequences into threats. Be surprised if teens get surly. Have child restate out loud the expectations and consequences. reschedule. not in the heat of the moment. Follow though. Have conversations about the above when everyone is calm. Don’t let your emotions get out of control. Pick and choose the issues that matter. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . And if yelling starts. Spell out consequences for noncompliance.

o  It’s the parents job to allow the kids to make mistakes and convert the mistakes into learning opportunities by making sure that our kids deal with the consequences. good kids do stupid things. No one makes it through the teenage years unscathed. o  Parents have to function as the brakes until the brain installs its own set.Chapter 4: Risky Business: Helping Teens Put on the Breaks o  Smart. It’s a simple fact of life. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . o  Discussion of hormones and neurotransmitters.

Parenting/Teaching Styles PERMISSIVE AUTHORITARIAN STRUCTURED Few rules Rigid rules Firm rules Few consequences Strict enforcement Firm enforcement Endless negotiation No negotiation Limited negotiation Limited or erratic leadership Autocratic leadership Stable leadership Emphasis on individuality Emphasis on comformity Balance All opinions equal Only parent’s opinions count Opinions respected Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Maintain and enforce standards of behavior. . Periodically examine and adjust as needed your parent/teaching style. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. (try the Structure Parent approach) Lose your temper even if your child does. Ask questions and follow up. Get support from other parents/friends.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Adjust expectations about teen behavior in light of brain dev. Practice patience. Don’t get caught in the trap of destructive verbal battles. Tolerate abusive or disrespectful behavior. Know where your kids are and what they are doing.

Chapter 5: What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate o  Teens misread facial expressions. •  Misreading of emotions •  Response from the amygdala is going to be super-charged •  PFC not working like an adults Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . o  Misreading emotional cues can lead to problems. o  Three reasons why communication is difficult for teens.

o  To eliminate confusion. state the reason for your feeling. o  Avoid generalizations. o  Name feeling. o  Ask questions that require more than 1 word answers.Great Communication Tips pg. state what you would like. o  Listening is more important that talking. o  Stick to one topic at a time. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . be as specific as possible when asking for something. 85 o  Begin statements with I rather than you.

listen. Model good communication skills. Don’t get caught in a yelling match. Don’t engage in name calling or put downs. Say clearly what you are feeling to reduce misintrepations.” Don’t leave conflict unresolved. Apologize if needed. listen. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Swear or use abusive language or accept that kind of language. And call a time out if communication gets off track. Expect and tolerate a little “mouthiness.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Listen.

Because teen girls verbalize their moods. the left hemisphere of the brain develops before the right in girls and the reverse it true for boys. Physical activity helps boys learn. they are also in danger of talking themselves into depression.. Teens try on different roles at different times to see what fits and what feels comfortable. spatial thinking). right hemisphere. Also. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . staying physically active can help boys deal with aggression. (left hemisphere.Chapter 6: Male and Female Brains o  o  o  o  As babies. We need to listen when they are emotionally hurting but also encourage them to work toward solutions. language dev.

Limit your teen by encouraging only traditional gender interests. or transgender people.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Encourage daughters to get involved in sports. lesbians. involved in a wide range of activities. Encourage sons and daughters to be Don’t tolerate aggressive behavior. Find books and magazines about topics students are interested in. Don’t use disparaging remarks about gays. Encourage your sons to name and talk about their feelings. Encourage daughters to find solutions when they are feeling down. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

then they will get their information from peers. 132-133 Tips on how to talk to teens about birds and bees. Pg. Sex. and the Adolescent Brain o  o  o  o  Because of their testosterone surges.Chapter 7: Love. Teen girls are more prone to focus on the relational aspects of sexual attraction. teen boys tend to view girls as sexual objects. The experience of falling in love is short – average length in teens 3-4 months. The brain activity in someone in love is very similar to the neural firing patterns of someone under the influence of cocaine. Research shows that if trusted adults don’t talk to adolescents about sex. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

STD’s and birth control. Don’t ridicule or make fun of crushes.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Emphasize the importance of honesty in all relationships. Don’t assume your child won’t engage in sexual behavior. Have regular conversations about sex and sexuality. Don’t let TV and movies become the only teachers about sex and sexuality. Communicate your values about sex and sexuality. Get angry or use put downs about a boy/girlfriend. Provide your teen with accurate information about sex. And listen. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Get to know your teens friends and boy/girlfriends.

the body stops producing the levels of dopamine it normally needs. Tobacco. and Drugs o  o  o  Drugs and alcohol can cause permanent damage to the adolescent brain (no family is immune). Whenever you chronically use a foreign substance to trigger dopamine surges. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .Chapter 8: Monkey Wrenches in the Brain: Alcohol. It is key to stay connected to your child.

Don’t accept excuses for repeated drinking. Knowing where your kids are. smoking or using drugs. who they are with. and what they are doing is key. Don’t ignore signs that your child is drinking. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Set and enforce curfews. Have regular conversations about drugs and alcohol. Don’t send mixed messages Set clear expectations – describe the damage that can be done.Do’s and Don’ts Do’s Don’ts Model responsible use. smoking or drug use.

his weekly amount of physical activity plummets The strength of evidence linking media violence to youth aggression is stronger than the evidence linking lead poisoning w/mental retardation and more definitive than the case linking secondhand smoke with cancer Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .Chapter 9: Adolescents and Media o  o  o  o  o  Digital natives 2/3 teens have TV’s in their bedrooms Studies show teens spend almost 40 hours a week in front of a screen As the average child’s weekly media exposure increases.

Limit amount of entertainment screen time (he recommends 10 hours a week). Don’t allow TV’s in the bedroom. Don’t let media time crowd out other important activities.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Have clear rules about screen time. Don’t have TV on during meals. Know what your kids are watching and playing as far as video games and to talk to them about programs. Don’t let kids play ultraviolent firstperson shooter video games. Install Internet monitoring software so kids know that you can track where they have been. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Practice appointment television and follow the media rating system.

o  Some effects of sleep deprivation •  •  •  Increase in the stress hormone cortisol Difficulty focusing.Chapter 10: Tired Teens The Story Behind o  Teenager needs on average 9. Impairs your ability to process glucose Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . The melatonin (sleep hormone) surge occurs later and the drop occurs later as well.5 hours of sleep a night. etc. o  Beginning at puberty the wake/sleep cycle changes. reasoning.

Don’t let your teens get in the habit of using a lot of caffeine to wake up in the morning (hard to model). Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .5 hours of sleep. Encourage your teen to wind down at a reasonable hour even if they don’t feel tired. Carve out enough time in your child’s daily schedule so that they can get enough sleep. Let your adolescent catch up on some sleep on weekends. Don’t let your teen accept jobs that keep them up late at night.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Let your teen know that scientists discovered that they need 9. Be mindful of how much TV/screen time they have especially late at night. Don’t let your teens take sleeping meds – including melatonin – unless recommended by a doctor.

Chapter 12: The Psychological and Social Dimensions of Adolescence o  Can’t just explain teen behavior by the physiological changes alone Don’t take it personally when your teenager seems embarrassed by you. Four major changes during teen years: rapid physical changes changes in both the intensity and volatility of emotions the shift of influence from parents to peers The search for identity – Who am I? Who do I want to be? o  Preoccupation with physical appearance o  o  Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

That may mean they challenge. That’s why it is important to think of new ways to maintain a connection.Chapter 12: continued o  o  o  o  o  Teens are very self-conscious about behavior: in their world there is no such thing as a subtle mistake Teens have contradictory feelings between being an emerging adult and still a child There is a natural shift of influence from parents to peers Erikson’s “identity formation” It is an adolescent’s job to figure out what kind of person he/she wants to be. Letting teenagers find their own way can be scary. question. but remember they need space to become who they want to be. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . Teens need space and latitude. and reevaluate their family’s values.

Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Expect your teen to become sensitive about how s/he looks. Don’t make derogatory/kidding remarks about your teen’s appearance. even Don’t put down your teen’s friends. Don’t base your parenting decision on what every other teen is doing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Understand the importance of friends to your child. when your teen questions/challenges you. Talk openly about peer pressure and how you can manage it. Be open to discussing values. Don’t be surprised if your teen becomes embarrassed by you. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

The other is wings. Maintaining family rituals and vacations is a great way to stay connected. A good rule of thumb is to spend 2x’s as much time and ½ as much money we can afford with our children. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . One is roots.Chapter 13: The Importance of Connection and Guidance o  o  o  o  There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. Research consistently shows that the most protective factor for teens is parent connection and involvement. Staying connected means staying open to different possibilities.

Spend time together as a family. teen. Maintain family traditions even when teens complain about them. Involve other adults in your teens life. Don’t grant the “divorce” from the family that your teen seems to want.Do’s and Don’ts Do Don’t Search for ways to connect with your Don’t lecture. Don’t stop going to school activities. Insist that your teen share in family chores and responsibilities. Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh .

Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh . pay attention to them and love them. Control is not key.Chapter 14: In Conclusion o  o  o  o  The common characteristic for kids who thrive in adolescence is that they have adults in their lives who care about them. Connection is (2 types of connections discussed in the book brain connections and emotional connections). The real test in parenting a teen is loving while expecting little in return and being willing to carry/guide our kids from one precarious position to the next. One way to meet some of the behavior challenges with love is to accentuate the positive so that we don’t fall into the trap of only responding to negatives (sandwich approach).