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Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen
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Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  256 ratings  ·  63 reviews
In this national bestseller, acclaimed, award-winning psychologist Dr. David Walsh explains exactly what happens to the human brain on the path from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. Revealing the latest scientific findings in easy-to-understand terms, Dr. Walsh shows why moodiness, quickness to anger and to take risks, miscommunication, fatigue, territoriality, an...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 6th 2005 by Atria Books (first published 2004)
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Sep 11, 2008 Bob rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
This book is the clearest I've read on the biological basis for adolescent misbehavior. It covers the blossoming and pruning of neurons that goes on in the prefrontal cortex, the erratic changes in the levels of norepinephrine (the energizer neurotransmitter), dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter) and serotonin (the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitter), along with testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. It also explains the workings of the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus and the ventral...more
Mar 21, 2013 Zelda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
If the government is going to be all up in our grill about everything anyway, they should issue this to every parent on the 11th birthday of their first born child. I didn't agree with his positions of the best health care model or sex education (let's make that class an elective...let's make everything an elective...except this book), but that wasn't a deal breaker. This road map of the teen brain has been very helpful in my understanding of why my teenager is DRIVING ME CRAZY. Er. I mean, uh....more
With puberty in full swing for my oldest (just turned 12), I literally RAN to the library the other day and checked out an armful of books on how to successfully parent this tumultuous time with dignity (admittedly, the dignity part was lacking these last weeks/months?!). I skimmed all of the books, reading some chapters that I thought pertained and browsing ones that didn't seem relevant; basically, taking the wheat and leaving the chaff (LOTS of chaff in some of these books). WHY Do They Act T...more
I think anyone with a teen or tween should read this book. Learning about what is happening in your adolescent's brain will give you a much better understanding of why he or she is acting so "cray-cray" all the time! Seriously you will relate to many of the scenarios that author David Walsh describes and feel better when you hear there is often a very specific physiological reason for many teen behaviors. I think my kids will be glad that I read this book as I now have a lot more patience and em...more
Connie Mayo
Very good neurological explanation of why tweens do and say some of the inexplicably irrational things that they do. It's not their fault. Really.

The first 90 pages were the most useful to me - the later chapters, as is true of most of these type of books, gets into the more serious sex-drugs-drinking things that (hopefully) aren't relevant to my 11 year old. Yet. So if you don't have time to read a whole book on this subject, reading the first five chapters of this book is very worth doing.
I read this book years ago. At the time I was a foster parent for "hard to place teenage girls". I saved me and my understanding helped many of them who are success stories in their own rights. I am currently tutoring a 13 year old that runs away often for a few days at a time. I have brought this book out and mom, daughter and I spend 15 minutes reading aloud before I begin tutoring math. While slow going at 15 min intervals the book has already helped mom and I think further reading will help...more
Shaulea Lucas
Perfect for anyone who has a teenager or deals with teenagers! It is very easy to read and understand.
This is definitely a helpful book, which explains to parents the need to keep calm during the turbulent adolescent years, and the reasons why. I'm glad I read it as a parent even more than as a teacher.
Must read for anyone raising kids. I had to buy two, one for me and one to lend.
Veronica Howard
Anyone who works with teenagers or who has a teenager should read this.
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Alicia Williams
Not very helpful if you're at all already close to your children. Most of the advise is very basic common sense: be consistent, have spousal support, be clear about expectations, back up your declarations with consequences, tell them you love them. I was, however, very impressed with the authors' advise to parents of GLBT youth. They basically said, love them anyway and keep your mouth shut; GLBT are all orientations, not choices. I found this quite liberated for a decade old book.
This would probalby only appeal to parents of teenagers, but I had to read it for a class focusing on teaching Middle School Age kids. It is informative and has lots of good information regarding brain development for kids this age. He also does a good job of recommending effective ways to communicate with kids this age. Overall, it helps you understand these "special kids" more and is helpful.
Anna Vermaelen
This book is probably the best parenting guide for parents of teenagers I have read. It is based on the latest research on brain developmemnt and explains, in simple terms, what happens in teenaged brain and how it influences their behaviour. Each chapter contains case studies and ends with clear points how to tackle the specific problem. It helps you understand why do they act that way!!!
I enjoyed this book. It was quite interesting to read about the development (or underdevelopment) of the adolescent brain. This understanding has helped in my reactions to my daughter as I think through her behavior differently than I may have before. There was a bit more detail than I really needed - but just scanned quickly through the parts that I wasn't as interested in.
I found the book to be a toolkit for possible challenges adolescents and parents may experience. Yet, from the title I was expecting more science explaining the adolescent brain.
Kathleen Brunnett
The first 50 pages or so are key in figuring out how the adolescent mind develops and why kids react the way they do. It did provide helpful information. The latter part of the book focuses on drugs, depression, etc. Topics I hopefully won't have to deal with. The book does need a bit of an update as how the author suggests dealing with bullying is a bit dated.
It's a very logical and easy to follow description and analysis of why teenagers do what they do. In enjoyed his mix of professional and personal anicdotes. Most importantly, I now understand why teens can over-react, blow-up, and argue. I would have given it 5 stars, but I didn't agree with some of his social positions in the gender identity section.
I'm not a huge reader of parenting books, but this one is a must-read if you have teens. Walsh explains the teen brain and the chemical/biology reasons for why teens think and act the way they often do, but not as an excuse for negative behavior. I think the book can help preserve parents' sanity when they're ready to wring their teen's neck.
Ruth Jones
A guide to understanding the adolescent brain. I had to read this for a course I just took. It is an easy read as the author provides real life examples with the intent to teach the parent or reader about why our teens do the things they do and to help us understand. He also gives approaches to different subject that may come up with your teen.
Melissa Meany

Very insightful! I think all parents of pre- teens should read this. It gave me a new perspective on how to communicate with my pre- teen. It also made me realize I need to pick my battles, be more understand of what he is going through and practice patience. It helps to understand the science behind adolescent behavior.
I had to read this book as part of a class I took through Learner's Edge. This was a great book for anyone who needs a refresher on how to cope with adolescents, to first time parents or individuals dealing with teens! Any easy read with practical suggestions that really lets you understand how the adolescent mind is wired.
I usually hate self help books. This book is more of a road map. I loved how it described what is happening in the adolescent brain. When I know something physical is going on, and they're not just little disrespectful pills, it helps. If you don't read anything else, read the last two chapters.
Brandan Lloyd
This was a very interesting read. The book was a great insight into why *I* acted that way when I was a teenager. It will also be a valuable asset for when my own kids are teens. I will buy a copy of this to have for future reading and I recommend it to anyone who was a teenager once.
A must-read for anyone with kids from 11 years to 18. How the teenage brain is totally different than ours and how you can assist them in growing up safely and with proper boundaries. The science was cool too. Keep it by my bed and dip in on a bad hormonal day (my daughter's not mine!!)
Loved this book and the insights it gives on teens. The ideas in this book validate good parenting skills that I've always wondered about. It also is enlightening to understand how and when the teen brain develops and how that effects they how they respond. Very helpful.
A must read for anyone with a 10-18 year old at home. Encompasses every situation an adolescent will face, why their undeveloped parts of their brain make them do the things they do and what you as a parent can do to help. You should not parent without reading this!
This is a great resource for parents of adolescents. It is packed with information but is delivered in a way that is accessible to all. I know that I will be coming back to it periodically as we are just beginning our journey through the teen years with our children.
Sarah Johnson
This had a lot of information about what is going on in a teen's brain and how they are developing their independence. There was some info that made it a little dated, such as teens using fax machines, but I imagine the science still stands.
After our oldest daughter turned into a hormonal crazy person I needed answers on how to be supportive and naturing without giving up our rules in our house re: responsibilities and consequences, and this book gave them!
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