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Book Discussion

Why Do They Act That Way?


by David Walsh

Chapter 1: Making Sense of


Adolescence
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
them.
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Dos

Donts

Attend parent conferences


and events at school.

Dont panic if things get


rocky with your teen.

Compare notes with other


parents.

Dont become a doormat


for disrespectful behavior.

Get to know your childrens


friends and their parents.

Dont ignore potentially


serious problems.

Learn about adolescent


growth.
Refresh your memory about
your own adolescence.
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Chapter 2: A Guided Tour of Their


Brain
o Brain Basics: brain, organ; mind
what the brain does
o Brain Structure
Brain Stem: inner part, in charge of
unconscious physiological functions like
breathing
Limbic System: in charge of emotion
contains the hypothalamus, hippocampus,
amygdala, 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

More on Brain Structure


o In the Cortex is the Prefrontal Cortex,
(PFC), the brains CEO is responsible
for planning ahead, considering
consequences, managing emotional
impulses, and is the brains
conscience.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Breakdown of Limbic System


Amygdala: seat of fear and anger
Hippocampus: memories
Hypothalamus: center for the bodys
endocrine or hormone center
Ventral striatal (VS) circuit: motivation

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

5 Processes of Brain Development


1.

Use it or lose it

2.

Blossoming and pruning

3.

The window of opportunity

One circuit that develops in the teen brain enables them to manage strong
emotional responses. The more we encourage teens to think before they speak or act,
the stronger those connections become. Teens who are never held accountable for
taking charge of their impulses have difficulty developing this crucial skill.

Experience determines which neural connections survive and which wither away.
Experiences during these periods, more than any other time, physically shape the brains
neural networks and have a huge impact on how the brain gets wired.

Opportunities to build positive neural connections opposite is true.

4.

The window of sensitivity:

5.

Myelination (insulation of nerve cells):

Certain developing areas of the brain are more susceptible during teen years.

White fatty substance that covers the main cable of the neuron, the axon

Bottom line: all of these processes continue to develop during adolescence.


Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Chapter 3: Why Adolescences are


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

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Set clear rules and expectations. Be surprised if teens get surly.


Have conversations about the
above when everyone is calm,
not in the heat of the moment.

Pick and choose the issues that


matter.

Spell out consequences for


noncompliance.

Dont make consequences into


threats.

Have child restate out loud the


expectations and consequences.

Dont let your adolescent get


his/her way when they throw a
tantrum.

Follow though. And if yelling


starts, reschedule.

Dont let your emotions get out


of control.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Chapter 4: Risky Business:


Helping Teens Put on the Breaks
o Smart, good kids do stupid things. Its a
simple fact of life. No one makes it through
the teenage years unscathed.
o Its 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.
o Discussion of hormones and
neurotransmitters.
o Parents have to function as the brakes until
the brain installs its own set.
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

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 parents opinions


count

Opinions respected

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Adjust expectations about teen


behavior in light of brain dev.

Tolerate abusive or disrespectful


behavior.

Periodically examine and adjust as


needed your parent/teaching style.
(try the Structure Parent approach)

Lose your temper even if your child


does.

Practice patience. Get support from


other parents/friends.

Dont get caught in the trap of


destructive verbal battles.

Know where your kids are and what


they are doing. Ask questions and
follow up.

Dont make mountains out of


molehills.

Maintain and enforce standards of


behavior.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Chapter 5: What We Have Here Is


a Failure to Communicate
o Teens misread facial expressions.
o Misreading emotional cues can lead to
problems.
o Three reasons why communication is
difficult for teens.
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

Great Communication Tips pg. 85


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

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Listen, listen, listen.

Swear or use abusive language


or accept that kind of language.

Say clearly what you are feeling


to reduce misintrepations.

Dont engage in name calling or


put downs.

Model good communication


skills.

Dont get caught in a yelling


match.

Expect and tolerate a little


mouthiness.

Dont leave conflict unresolved.

Apologize if needed. And call a


time out if communication gets
off track.
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Chapter 6: Male and Female Brains


o

o
o

As babies, the left hemisphere of the brain develops


before the right in girls and the reverse it true for
boys. (left hemisphere, language dev.; right
hemisphere, spatial thinking).
Physical activity helps boys learn. Also, staying
physically active can help boys deal with aggression.
Because teen girls verbalize their moods, they are
also in danger of talking themselves into depression.
We need to listen when they are emotionally hurting
but also encourage them to work toward solutions.
Teens try on different roles at different times to see
what fits and what feels comfortable.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Encourage daughters to get involved


in sports.

Limit your teen by encouraging only


traditional gender interests.

Encourage sons and daughters to be Dont tolerate aggressive behavior.


involved in a wide range of activities.
Find books and magazines about
topics students are interested in.

Dont use disparaging remarks about


gays, lesbians, or transgender
people.

Encourage daughters to find


solutions when they are feeling
down.
Encourage your sons to name and
talk about their feelings.
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Chapter 7: Love, Sex, and the


Adolescent Brain
o

o
o
o

Because of their testosterone surges, teen boys tend


to view girls as sexual objects. Teen girls are more
prone to focus on the relational aspects of sexual
attraction.
The brain activity in someone in love is very similar to
the neural firing patterns of someone under the
influence of cocaine.
The experience of falling in love is short average
length in teens 3-4 months.
Research shows that if trusted adults dont talk to
adolescents about sex, then they will get their
information from peers. Pg. 132-133 Tips on how to
talk to teens about birds and bees.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Emphasize the importance of


honesty in all relationships.

Get angry or use put downs about a


boy/girlfriend.

Have regular conversations about


sex and sexuality.

Dont ridicule or make fun of


crushes.

Communicate your values about sex


and sexuality.

Dont assume your child wont


engage in sexual behavior.

Provide your teen with accurate


information about sex, STDs and
birth control.

Dont let TV and movies become the


only teachers about sex and
sexuality.

Get to know your teens friends and


boy/girlfriends. And listen.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Chapter 8: Monkey Wrenches in


the Brain: Alcohol, 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, the body stops producing
the levels of dopamine it normally needs.
It is key to stay connected to your child.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Dos

Donts

Model responsible use.

Dont send mixed messages

Set clear expectations describe the


damage that can be done.

Dont ignore signs that your child is


drinking, smoking or using drugs.

Set and enforce curfews.

Dont accept excuses for repeated


drinking, smoking or drug use.

Get to know your childs friends and


their parents.
Have regular conversations about
drugs and alcohol.

Knowing where your kids are, who they are with, and what they are doing is key.
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 TVs in their bedrooms
Studies show teens spend almost 40 hours a week in
front of a screen
As the average childs weekly media exposure
increases, 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

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Have clear rules about screen time.

Dont have TV on during meals.

Limit amount of entertainment


screen time (he recommends 10
hours a week).

Dont allow TVs in the bedroom.

Practice appointment television and


follow the media rating system.

Dont let media time crowd out other


important activities.

Know what your kids are watching


and playing as far as video games
and to talk to them about programs.

Dont 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

Chapter 10:
Tired Teens

The Story Behind

o Teenager needs on average 9.5 hours of


sleep a night.
o Beginning at puberty the wake/sleep cycle
changes. The melatonin (sleep hormone)
surge occurs later and the drop occurs later
as well.
o Some effects of sleep deprivation

Increase in the stress hormone cortisol


Difficulty focusing, reasoning, etc.
Impairs your ability to process glucose
Why Do They Act That Way? by
David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Let your teen know that scientists


discovered that they need 9.5 hours
of sleep.

Dont let your teens take sleeping


meds including melatonin unless
recommended by a doctor.

Encourage your teen to wind down


at a reasonable hour even if they
dont feel tired.

Dont let your teens get in the habit


of using a lot of caffeine to wake up
in the morning (hard to model).

Let your adolescent catch up on


some sleep on weekends.

Dont let your teen accept jobs that


keep them up late at night.

Carve out enough time in your


childs daily schedule so that they
can get enough sleep.

Be mindful of how much TV/screen


time they have especially late at
night.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Chapter 12: The Psychological and


Social Dimensions of Adolescence

Cant just explain teen behavior by the physiological


changes alone
Dont 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?

Preoccupation with physical appearance

o
o

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Chapter 12: continued


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
Eriksons identity formation It is an adolescents job to
figure out what kind of person he/she wants to be. That
may mean they challenge, question, and reevaluate their
familys values.
Teens need space and latitude. Letting teenagers find
their own way can be scary, but remember they need
space to become who they want to be. Thats why it is
important to think of new ways to maintain a connection.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Expect your teen to become


sensitive about how s/he looks.

Dont make derogatory/kidding


remarks about your teens
appearance.

Understand the importance of


friends to your child.

Dont be surprised if your teen


becomes embarrassed by you.

Be open to discussing values, even


Dont put down your teens friends.
when your teen questions/challenges
you.
Talk openly about peer pressure and
how you can manage it.

Dont base your parenting decision


on what every other teen is doing.
Dont sweat the small stuff.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Chapter 13: The Importance of


Connection and Guidance
o
o
o
o

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.


One is roots. The other is wings.
Research consistently shows that the most protective factor
for teens is parent connection and involvement.
Maintaining family rituals and vacations is a great way to
stay connected.
Staying connected means staying open to different
possibilities. A good rule of thumb is to spend 2xs as
much time and as much money we can afford with our
children.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

Dos and Donts


Do

Dont

Search for ways to connect with your Dont lecture.


teen.
Spend time together as a family.

Dont grant the divorce from the


family that your teen seems to want.

Involve other adults in your teens


life.

Dont stop going to school activities.

Maintain family traditions even when


teens complain about them.
Insist that your teen share in family
chores and responsibilities.

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh

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, pay attention to them and love them.
One way to meet some of the behavior challenges with love
is to accentuate the positive so that we dont fall into the
trap of only responding to negatives (sandwich approach).
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.
Control is not key. Connection is (2 types of connections
discussed in the book brain connections and emotional
connections).

Why Do They Act That Way? by


David Walsh