Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen” as Want to Read:
Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  402 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 6th 2005 by Atria Books (first published 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why Do They Act That Way?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why Do They Act That Way?

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 06, 2008 Bob rated it it was amazing
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 13, 2013 Zelda rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 09, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 24, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, health
This book is full of useful information if you have contact with any adolescents. They don't even have to be your own for this to be beneficial. While some of this is clearly science when it comes to hormones and brain development, it was still so much more than that. The author suggested many different ways to help teens and to give them realistic boundaries.

It came across as a practical tool kit that will enhance your chance at success. Some of it is common sense but it also felt like an educa
Connie Mayo
Jul 30, 2010 Connie Mayo rated it really liked it
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.
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
Nov 23, 2016 Kelly McCloskey-Romero rated it really liked it
This is a very helpful book. It has a very clear format, with concrete explanations and tips framed by check-ins about what one is doing. It's a little dated about technology, but otherwise I found it relevant and helpful in determining what is normal in teenage behavior, what is due to brain development, and what to do to raise a teenager while staying sane.
Janel Cox
A national bestseller for a reason. Helpful descriptions of basic brain development, hilarious stories of teenage angst, moodiness, anger, family bonding. Practical techniques for talking civilly and constructively with teens.
May 26, 2013 Pamh1955 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2014 Tracy rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 03, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read several books on adolescent brain development for my job, Walsh's book is by far my favorite. It explains the science in an understandable way and offers real world examples of situations anyone living with or working with youth might encounter. He highlights the wrong way and the right way to approach teens. The competency checklists at the start of each chapter and the "Do" and "Don't" lists at the end of each chapter are helpful and practical, which is missing from a lot of media ...more
Alicia Williams
Jun 28, 2013 Alicia Williams rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
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.
Jan 29, 2008 Elizabeth rated it liked it
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.
Mar 25, 2011 Alisha rated it really liked it
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.
Melissa Meany
Jul 31, 2012 Melissa Meany rated it it was amazing

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.
Jul 02, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing
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.
Kathleen Brunnett
Mar 25, 2012 Kathleen Brunnett rated it really liked it
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.
Heidi Waldstein
Aug 11, 2016 Heidi Waldstein rated it it was amazing
For those interested in brain development, this very readable book about the brain gives lots of interesting evidence about why teenagers react the way they do and what parents should do. Beginning with the premise "use it or lose it" Walsh makes a case for why it is crucial for parents and teachers to teach social and emotional skills during this period of rapid brain development.
Sep 09, 2008 Jenn rated it liked it
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.
Brook Maturo
Feb 07, 2015 Brook Maturo rated it liked it
I appreciated the clear, concise science here. It helps me feel more compassion for my adolescent. The author is thorough in taking into account the physical, social and psychological issues facing teens. I may have rated this higher if the audio version I listened to was better. I found the guys voice annoying.
Dec 01, 2009 Jules rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2008 Ruth Jones rated it really liked it
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.
Anna Vermaelen
Feb 03, 2011 Anna Vermaelen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
Jan 11, 2013 carrie rated it really liked it
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.
May 22, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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!
May 08, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
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!!)
Aug 02, 2011 Sabkymom rated it it was amazing
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!
Feb 08, 2010 Cymiki rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
want to know why your teen drives you crazy? can you blame it 100% on your teen's brain development, or lack thereof? lots of science behind brain development.... interesting read for those with teens around.
Mar 04, 2012 Kristin rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 14, 2014 Corinne rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 22, 2010 Lynne rated it it was amazing
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Real Revision: Authors' Strategies to Share with Student Writers
  • The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids
  • Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall
  • Comprehension Going Forward: Where We Are / What's Next
  • A Fine Young Man: What Parents, Mentors, and Educators Can Do to Shape Adolescent Boys into Exceptional Men
  • 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know
  • Reading Reasons: Motivational Mini-Lessons for Middle and High School
  • Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind
  • Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence
  • An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students
  • Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World
  • The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child: With No Pills, No Therapy, No Contest of Wills
  • The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students
  • Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World
  • Middle School: The Inside Story: What Kids Tell Us, But Don't Tell You
  • Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop
  • Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher's Guide
  • A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades

Share This Book

“Is there a cost to this booming virtual social life? Does it impact our kids’ person-to-person skills? Emerging research shows it does and underlines the need to balance tech enthusiasm with encouraging our kids to use age-old practices like turning toward each other, face-to-face.” 0 likes
“Research at the University of California helps explain why people might act differently when sending an e-mail or a text message than they do in person. In face-to-face communication a part of our brain called the orbitofrontal cortex constantly reassesses emotional signs and social cues that help us interact appropriately. The brain’s social censor, however, doesn’t activate in online communication. That’s why people, not just teenagers, might say something online that they would never say in person.” 0 likes
More quotes…