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WHY Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen Hardcover – July 20, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Gail Saltz, M.D.Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, The New York Presbyterian Hospital; "Today Show" Mental Health Contributor; author of "Becoming Real"Dave Walsh's weaving together of current understanding of the teenage brain with years of clinical experience with teens has produced a thoughtful, practical, and down-to-earth guide that enables parents to understand and deal well with their teenagers. If you are struggling with your adolescent, or even anticipating your child's entrance into those crazy years, this book will show you how to help both you and your teen have the healthiest, sanest passage.

From the Inside Flap

"Dr. Walsh is a teacher, scientist, therapist, and parent and all of these roles enable him to deliver a powerful, practical book on the teenage brain. Usually when I study the brain, my eyes cross and I fall asleep, but Walsh is a storyteller with the gifts of simplicity and clarity. This book is an easy read, but its message is fresh, nuanced, and important. I recommend it to all parents who ask themselves, 'Why do they act this way?'"
--Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author, Reviving Ophelia

"Teenagers...those baffling and scary creatures your adorable kids turned into, leaving you puzzled and angry all the time. Dave Walsh's weaving together of current understanding of the teenage brain with years of clinical experience with teens has produced a thoughtful, practical and down-to-earth guide that enables parents to understand and deal well with their teenager. If you are struggling with your adolescent, or even anticipating your child's entrance into those crazy years, this book will show you why it all makes sense and how to help both you and your teen have the healthiest, sanest passage."
--Gail Saltz, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, The New York Presbyterian Hospital; Today Show Mental Health Contributor; Author of Becoming Real

"Why Do They Act That Way is a comprehensive guide to the biology behind just about every adolescent behavior a parent or teacher might encounter. Drawing from his extensive clinical experience, Dr. Walsh walks the reader through many situations he has helped resolve through an understanding of how teen brains grow and develop. His gentle humor and friendly exploration of some personal parenting mishaps make this a highly readable and helpful book. You'll finish it feeling as if you've just had coffee with someone who is not only entertaining and enlightening but who knows exactly how it feels to be the mom or dad of a twenty first century teen."
--Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D., Author of Surviving Ophelia, GirlWars (with Charisse Nixon), and Stung! Adult Women Who Are Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees

"Why Do They Act That Way? actually answers the question, at least as best as it can be answered. This superb book combines science, psychology, and direct experience with adolescents to create a warm-hearted, intelligent, and practical guide. Parents will find the book immensely informative, reassuring, and useful. I highly recommend it!"
--Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, and Dare to Forgive

"The adolescent brain is NOT an oxymoron! Parents and teachers need to understand its critical developmental needs, and Dr. Walsh's clear, scientific, and humane counsel is just the ticket. I especially like his real-life stories and the chapter on helping kids manage the media."
--Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., Educational Psychologist and author of Your Child's Growing Mind and Failure to Connect

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (July 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743260716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743260718
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have been reading about child and adolescent development since my graduate school days. Later, when my children were born I was also a voracious reader of all the major writers on child and adolescent development. How I wish I had this book when my kids were in junior and senior high school!
Dr. Walsh has absolutely nailed adolescence. Amazing. He has taken an enormous amount of scholarly research and delivered it to us in readable and useable form. He clearly loves what he does and his passion for kids shines through in every chapter. It is a joy to read such a powerful combination of scholarship and common sense.
Someday I would love to meet this man. I am sure I would learn a lot. I recommend this book without reservation to every parent and teen out there who wants to understand these years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This will likely benefit anyone who is a parent of an adolescent. I think that it would also be helpful to adolescents themselves (if they would read it) in understanding some of their own behavior.

Walsh provides a lot of information on the latest research in brain development from adolescence to adulthood and its effects on attitudes, behavior, etc. He also discusses hormonal changes as well as cultural and other influences that are helpful in understanding the teen years.

Along with the scientific research he provides, Dr. Walsh also compares parenting styles, discusses activities for kids that can help in the short and long term, and provides realistic ideas for parenting during these tumultuous years. One of his particularly good suggestions is behavioral contracts. He provides a couple of specific examples of these, which are quite good.

One great quote that he has to start off chapter one makes it clear that surviving adolescence has been an issue for millennia: "Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers". This is attributed to none other than Socrates in the fifth century, B.C.

Walsh clearly defines adolescence: "it begins at puberty and ends ... sometime".

Interwoven with the scientific information and helpful tips, he relates some stories, funny and otherwise, that most parents of those in this age group will be able to understand. One that I found particularly humorous related to ultra cold weather and adolescent dressing habits. This can be found on page 214.

I recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
What's most remarkable about this book is how easy and fun it is to read. There are lots of stories sprinkled in with the scientific information, and Walsh's friendly, engaging voice comes across on every page. I wish I'd had this book when I was a teenager. It would have been nice to know that pains and dramas that afflicted me were the part of the process of literally growing into my adult brain. I know this book is intended for parents, but I think there are a lot of kids out there who would find it a good read too.
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Format: Hardcover
This book brings the reader upfront and close to what is happening in the brains and lives of teens. It is one of those rare nonfiction books that the reader doesn't want to put down. David Walsh's conversational style of writing, peppered with many examples from his own work and life with teens, is thoroughly engaging. The added plus is his many useful and practical ideas for connecting with adolescents. He is clear and concise in offering strategies both for loving and coping with teens. His integration of the latest brain research with his expetise and years of experience working with teens makes this a classic for parents, teachers and anyone having contact with teens.
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Format: Paperback
I was a hard sell when given this book. I was concerned that it was going to offer One Big Excuse for sorry teen-age behavior. I was already seeing the headlines: Teen Not Guilty; It wasn't his fault; His PFC made him do it!

Instead, I learned a great deal from this book. I wish the science had been there years ago. Besides getting a peek into the seemingly unfathomable teen-age brain, Walsh gave valuable information about how to handle the problems that come up as a result of the difficult transition known as adolescence. I see this information not so much as an excuse for poor behavior as it is a guide to lead people away from it. I recommend this book to teachers or anyone who has a child younger than 25!
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Format: Hardcover
As a developmental psychologist, I understand how children develop and behave. As a father, I understand how perplexing their behavior often seems. Dr. Walsh has managed to use the latest information in developmental neuroscience to tie these two sides together in a way that the lay reader will comprehend, which ultimately will help parents of adolescents to stop being so perplexed and to be able to interact with their adolescents in a positive way.

Dr. Walsh, as always, mixes science with common sense and humor, and provides research-based advice that all parents can use. This is one reason why his organization, the National Institute on Media and the Family ([...] has become such a trusted resource for parents, educators, and policy-makers.
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