Synopses & Reviews
By combining a keen understanding of your—and your teens—emotions with effective and time-tested parenting techniques, the practice of wise-minded parenting helps you handle the difficult, upsetting, and emotionally complex situations that often define this crucial second decade of child-rearing. In these pages, parents will also learn how to help their kids master the seven essentials fundamental to future happiness and success— secure attachment, self-discipline, academic success, social thriving, emotional adjustment, physical health, and strong character.
Quizzes, lists, action plans, practice scripts, and real-life vignettes—all grounded in fifty years of parenting research—are presented in a fun and user-friendly format, offering quicker access to the information youll need to efficiently evaluate and improve your interactions with your teens. Wise-Minded Parenting offers the “best practices” of effective, clear-headed parents and provides a research-based, user-friendly, multi-media support system, as you work to reach the ultimate goal: a warm and loving connection to your happy, thriving, and successful teen.
In Wise-Minded Parenting, Dr. Kastner and co-author Kristen Russell bring you the “best practices” of effective, clear-headed parents, including the skills first laid out in Getting to Calm, along with a unique focus on helping your teen master the seven essentials fundamental to future happiness and success.
The aim of Wise-Minded Parenting is to provide parents that helping hand in the form of a research-based, user-friendly, multi-media support system, as they work to reach the ultimate goal: a warm and loving connection to your happy, thriving, and successful teen.
Mindful parenting, a popular style of child-rearing in some circles these days, is a start, but it’s only part of the equation: The happiest, most effective parents combine mindfulness with acute emotional intelligence.
Chapters take parents on a clear journey that is practical, realistic and ultimately reassuring using an interactive guide to navigate one of the most challenging aspects of parenting today:.
• Fostering Secure Attachment
• Cultivating Self Discipline
• Promoting Academic Success
• Encouraging Social Thriving
• Nurturing Emotional Adjustment
• Supporting Physical Health
• Building Character and a Meaningful Life
Quizzes, lists, action plans, practice scripts, and real-life vignettes—all grounded in fifty years of parenting research and current evidence-based treatment models—will help parents better support their teens as they develop the seven essentials for a healthy and successful future: secure attachment, self discipline, academic success, social thriving, emotional adjustment, physical health, and strong character. Parents will learn why these are the seven essentials and determine which are solidly under construction in your child, and which are most important to work on right now.
Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Kastners speeches and lectures have included over 100 presentations on topics relating to parenting and family issues. She has frequently been the keynote speaker at Pediatric, Adolescent Medicine, and Nursing conferences. Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt are the authors of The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life, The Seven Year Stretch: How Families Work Together to Grow Through Adolescence, and Getting to CALM: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens.
Kristen Russell is a Seattle-based journalist, long-time television news reporter and producer, and the former managing editor of several Seattle-based magazines, including ParentMap andSeattle magazine. She holds a masters degree in Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley and is the mother of two teenagers.
Foreward by Daniel J. Siegal, M.D.
Parenting is a challenging long-distance course that can also be one of the most rewarding adventures we have in life. The transition from parenting in the early years of childhood to adolescence is huge. This book will make that transition smoother, and the experience of being a parent more effective and enjoyable for you.
The journey of parenting becomes more complex and confusing as our children enter the preteen period, or “tween” years, when transformations in their bodies and changes in their social worlds bring on new requirements for how we approach our parenting role. As these children move on into the teen years, maturation of the body continues with important reconstruction of the brain itself, making teens prone to abrupt emotional shifts that can be confusing for any parent.
What can we do with these new ways our sons and daughters are behaving, thinking, and feeling? Given that research clearly demonstrates that what we do as parents matters greatly in shaping the development of our childrens and teens minds, how can we parent them so that they are equipped with the essential abilities to not only survive this challenging period, but also thrive? In Wise-Minded Parenting, you have a magnificent tool kit to help you become the parent you will be proud to be—one who knows what can be known during this beguiling period, and understands how to interact with your adolescent so that they can be given the best opportunity to become resilient in the face of stress, kind and compassionate to themselves and others, and prepared with a lifelong inner strength to face the complex and rapidly changing world. With these skills, your tween and teen will emerge from these years not only able to meet lifes demands, but to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
Reading such offerings about a single book, you might think I am the authors brother! But the truth is that I am a parent of two adolescents, as well as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and an educator in the field of mental health, working within an interdisciplinary approach called interpersonal neurobiology. I am not Dr. Kastners brother. In her clear and well-planned book, written with Kristen A. Russell, you will find a rich source of easily understood information that draws on a wide array of sciences to support the question: What is the best thing I can do as a parent for my tween and teen? Science and clinical practice are woven seamlessly together in the chapters ahead to provide you with one of the most articulately expressed, useful sets of research-validated parenting strategies youll ever find.
In these pages, you will learn the basics of how the parent-child attachment relationship forms the internal foundation that sets the stage for how adolescents move through their important transition from child to adult. Youll explore vital ideas about the brain and how our ability to develop self-control—how we regulate our feelings, thoughts, attention, impulses, and behaviors—is formed by the experiences we have at home and in school. When this self-control is applied to our “work” at school, we learn to become disciplined in our efforts and to realize that how we try shapes how we academically succeed. That is a lesson that can be generalized in everything an adolescent will do later in life, from work settings to interpersonal relationships. Effort is needed for success in life. Parents are the first teachers for this important life lesson.
Youll also discover how research has shown that relationships shape nearly everything in our lives, from our medical health to our mental development. We thrive socially when our connections with others are honored and cultivated.
Wise-minded parents learn to provide the kind of authoritative guidance—filled with warmth, limit setting, and the age-appropriate honoring of the childs growth of autonomy—that research has repeatedly shown, across cultures and socioeconomic status, to be the best approach to helping our offspring grow well in their emotional, social, and intellectual lives. Being authoritative, and not excessively permissive or authoritarian, is a skill that you can learn, if you are not already there. Science has demonstrated that when you bring this authoritative approach to your children, it raises the likelihood that they will flourish emotionally.
And if all of this were not enough, the book goes even further to explore the science of how personality is formed, and what we can do as parents to help our children develop key character elements, such as kindness, honesty, love of learning, optimism, collaboration, and even social and emotional intelligence, that support a healthy life in adolescence and adulthood. We learn how to bring more positive emotions into our family life, filling our inner and interpersonal lives with gratitude, a sense of generosity, and a feeling of connection to others. Character is built on a foundation of solid physical health, and in the final chapter youll find an excellent overview of the crucial elements of daily life, including sleep, eating, and physical activities, that support a healthy lifestyle.
Throughout the book, youll come upon sections that help you practice what is taught, learning how to reflect on what things are like in your family, and how to make your approach as a parent more effective and more rewarding. There are numerous immersions in important topics, such as how we can deal with the onslaught of digital media in all our lives and how changes in sexual behavior have been altering the nature of friendships during this important period of life. The authors leave no stone unturned, and we, the readers, are the immediate beneficiaries of this beautifully constructed book. The next in line to reap the wonderful gifts this work offers are our tweens and teens, whose lives will be greatly enhanced by the skills and knowledge we acquire as their parents. What better gift to give to our children—and to ourselves—than this comprehensive and scientifically based set of effective strategies to help our adolescents thrive?
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Executive director, Mindsight Institute
Clinical professor, UCLA School of Medicine
Author, The Developing Mind and Mindsight
Co-author, Parenting from the Inside Out and The Whole-Brain Child
Scene: Its dinnertime on a school night, and just as you put food on the table, your teenager hits you with a request.
Kate: I need to go to Jens after dinner. Can you take me?
Mom: Wait—I thought you had a huge math test tomorrow. You need to stay home and study.
Kate: Mom. Im ready for the test. Jens upset. She needs me.
Mom: Im sorry about Jen, but studying comes first. Youre staying home. And you know we have a no-socializing rule on school nights anyway.
Kate: You never liked Jen! I hate your stupid rules! You are such a mean mom!
Mom: Mean? After all I do for you? Im just trying to keep you from failing math.
Kate: Ill fail it anyway. Youre ruining my life.
Sound extreme? Maybe not, if youve got a full-blown teenager living in your house. Communication breakdowns like this one are all too common during the late tween and early teen years, and they can be baffling, frustrating, and even frighteningly explosive at times. Where did this exchange take a wrong turn? How did this mother and daughter, who actually both want the same things—good math scores and a healthy social life—end up so at odds? What strategy could the wise-minded parent employ to reach a more satisfying outcome?
If you live with an older tween or teen, youve probably already noticed: Your darling child is morphing into something new—something at times strange and wonderful, but also sullen, self-absorbed, and occasionally, downright rude. If your child is still in their pre-teen or tween years (usually ranging from nine to fourteen years of age), know that its probably coming, if it hasnt already arrived. Some days will be fine; on others, you may wonder if you even like each other anymore. At those times, it might be hard to imagine how youll ever again feel a connection to this sulking ball of hormones and attitude. Is all of this frequent conflict—and your mounting frustration with your childs behavior—doing permanent damage to your relationship? How can you keep communication flowing and your once loving connection strong through the turbulent teen years? And does it really matter to your childs future success if you dont?
Why Attachment MattersMaintaining a warm, loving bond with your child certainly does matter, and not just because those glimmers of fond connection provide welcome relief during stormy times. A secure attachment is crucial to your childs future success in all kinds of measurable ways. Tweens and teens who share a strong mutual bond with their parents are better adjusted socially, get better grades, are less likely to use alcohol and drugs . . . the list goes on, and the research backs it up (Cassidy and Shaver, 2008). Secure
Chapter 1 continued:
Wise-Minded Parenting 101 - For help handling the tough and emotionally-laden times with teens, parents can utilize some of the concepts and techniques of an evidence-based treatment approach called “Dialectical Behavior Therapy” (DBT). Developed by University of Washington psychology researcher Marsha M. Linehan, DBT combines common cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotional regulation with elements drawn from Buddhist traditions of acceptance, tolerance, and mindfulness. While Linehan developed DBT in research with adults, many individuals have translated its principles for working with children, especially for those who experience intense emotions (Harvey and Penzo, 2009).
The word “dialectical” refers to the crucial process by which we examine opposing truths in an effort to reach a deep understanding of a principle, a feeling, or a dynamic. For instance, we love our family members, but they often frustrate us, make us mad, and leave us feeling awful. To understand the truth of intimacy, we need to examine the ways in which we love, cherish, and adore our families, even as we can feel furious, befuddled, or trapped. Remember the ancient philosophers Socrates and Plato? Dialectics is what they were doing in all those amazing dialogues—and what happens in the best classrooms and dinner conversations! We want our kids to become critical thinkers, and this is one of the ways it can be developed (more on the “Socratic Method” in chapter 4).
One of the most important dialectical principles to understand and embrace is the “acceptance/change” principle: In order for you to help your children change, you must first accept them unconditionally. Think how often we react to our child (in mind, mood, or words) with “I love you, but….” Even though children need to mature, learn new behaviors, and change old ones, they first need to feel they are accepted. Change evolves from the bedrock of acceptance.
SLUG: WISE-MINDED MANTRA
In order to help my children change, I must first accept them unconditionally.
Here are some important DBT principles that can help parents learn to practice acceptance:
- Your child is doing the best he can at this moment in time. Parents who accept this truth can move the child along toward change in the future.
- Your child needs to do better, try harder, and be more motivated to change…but that will result from your skillful handling of his extreme emotions and behavior.
- Your child wants to make things better. Children naturally seek approval from their parents and are happier when they master challenges.
- Your child must learn new behaviors and take responsibility for coping in difficult situations. And she will, as she matures and you skillfully work with her.
- Family members should take things in a well-meaning way, and not assume the worst Negative reactivity is normal, but its not usually helpful.
- There is no absolute truth. Think about how often you argue over the truth with your child. He may say, “You never let me do anything.” Or maybe, “You always take my brothers side.” You have a choice: You can argue—and have a power struggle—or avoid an argument and say nothing. Even better would be saying something that validates his intense feelings and opinions right now. Arguing over the truth usually exacerbates conflicts when people are extremely emotionally upset.
The “wise mind” is a concept Linehan developed to emphasize the effectiveness of combining thinking processes (the “reason mind”) with emotional regulation (the “emotion mind”) to produce intuitive, effective ways of handling distressing situations.
To be wise-minded, you harness the quiet empathy that comes with a deep understanding and acceptance of emotions, both yours and your childs, and then integrate that empathy with reason for a balanced response. This dynamic combination allows parents to come up with wise, discerning, and--best of all--effective strategies for handling any given conflict or situation with their child.
The wise-minded parent moves beyond reason mind, which processes and responds to the mere facts of a situation. For example, the facts of the scenario at the beginning of the chapter are: Kate has a math test. The parents have a no-socializing rule for school nights. Kate is being extremely rude. If she goes to Jens, she wont study as much. The mother also knows, or should know, that kids feel very intensely about their friends at this age. Basing her response on the facts alone—accurate though they are—discounts how this Kate feels, hinders empathy, and significantly reduces Moms effectiveness as a parent.
Raising a happy and successful teenager is a challenge for any parent, even the most patient and wisest among us. Parenting adolescents requires all sorts of skills that most of us dont naturally possess. In this down-to-earth, practical guide, youll learn how to tap your “wise mind” to calmly navigate even the stormiest of parenting moments. You'll learn how to preserve your loving relationship while encouraging progress towards the 7 essentials of happy, healthy teens:
- Secure attachment to parents
- Academic success
- Social thriving
- Emotional flourishing
- Strong character
- Physical health
With humor, wisdom and a deep understanding of the teenaged brain, Dr. Kastner, author of Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens, and Russell provide clear and useful tools for parents, giving them effective new ways to manage their own emotions in the heat of the moment with their teen while maintaining — and even gaining — closeness.
About the Author
Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. A psychologist and mother of two, she writes and lectures widely on adolescence and family behavior. With Jennfier Wyatt, she co-wrote The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting Senior Year to College Life and The Seven Year Stretch: How families Work Together to Grow Through Adolescence.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Fostering Secure Attachment
Chaper 2: Cultivating Self Discipline
Chapter 3: Promoting Academic Success
Chapter 4: Encouraging Social Thinking
Chapter 5: Nurturing Emotional Adjustment
Chapter 6: Supporting Physical Health
Chapter 7: Building Character and a Meaningful Life