Yesterday I attended a talk by Laurence Steinberg, the renowned author and psychology professor who has spent much of his 40 year career researching adolescence. His latest book, Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence, focuses on helping parent and kids thrive, not just survive, this developmentally crucial life stage.
He said a lot in his two-hour talk, and he says even more in his great book, but here are a few quotes on parenting adolescents from Dr. Steinberg yesterday that struck me as particularly important.
On how the adolescence needs a PR makeover:
"We need to think of adolescence as a stage at which people can thrive if take advantage of the opportunities. Stop thinking of it as something to be endured. That is a message we have to stop telling both parents and kids."
On why brain plasticity during adolescence is so important:
"Adolescence is last time in human development when brain can be remodeled and that's what makes it such an important opportunity. We will never have this chance again when window of plasticity begins to close."
"Instead of trying to rush our kids through adolescence, we need to figure out ways to make it more interesting, stimulating and challenging to take advantage of the malleability of the brain."
On the need for resources for adolescents:
"Preschoolers get all the attention. No one is opposed to good preschool, but it’s an investment, not an inoculation. We must invest in kids throughout their development and especially during adolescence. We need to make it a priority for how we allocate our resources."
On the most important trait a kid can have:
"Strong self control is the most important trait you can instill in your child. There are things you can do during adolescence to build that capacity."
Ways to help kids with self control:
"There things parents can do help kids have more self control.
- Sleep is really important for self control. Adolescents should get 8 ½ - 9 ½ hours of sleep.
- Aerobic exercise good for self control, even just 20 minutes a day, but schools are taking PE out of the daily curriculum
- Mindfulness activities like meditation, yoga, martial arts can be good.
All of these are really good for parents, too."
On how to keep a kid learn perseverance:
"Help kids foresee obstacles before they enter into the situation. Have them make a plan for what they’re going to do if they encounter the obstacles. A lot of giving up comes when something derails kids plan and don’t have a backup plan."
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