Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Born to be Wild"

As any parent of a tween, teen or 20-something knows, adolescents take risks. In fact, those aged 12-26 are hard-wired to take risks, but how do you combat these natural impulses? In Born to Be Wild, Jess Shatkin brings more than two decades' worth of research and clinical experience to the subject, along with cutting-edge findings from brain science, evolutionary psychology, game theory, and other disciplines -- plus a widely curious mind and the perspective of a concerned dad himself. 

As Dr. Shatkin illustrates in Born to Be Wild
  • Adolescents are genetically engineered to prioritize emotions over logic: Teens make risky choices for social acceptance and to avoid emotional pain. If a peer is watching, even a peer they don’t know, adolescents are more likely to take risks. 
  • Teens know that they’re not invincible. In fact, studies have shown that, when teens engage in risky behavior, they often overestimate their chances of being harmed by that behavior.
  • Improving parenting practices and increasing parent monitoring can help halt high-risk behaviors: Shatkin shares Parent Management Training (PMT) techniques that emphasize tactful praise over remonstrations of how not to behave. 
  • Supportive families benefit the brain: Studies show teens raised by parents with low levels of conflict in their homes have less demanding brain reward centers; these teens will engage in less risk-taking behavior because their interpersonal relationships are rewarding. 
Ironically, even though adolescence is a risk-taking time, it is also a time of incredible potential. In Born to Be Wild, Shatkin shows what parents and teachers can do--in everyday interactions, teachable moments, and specially chosen activities and outings--to work with teens' need for risk, rewards and social acceptance, not against it.
My Review:
This book is an excellent resource for parents, and professionals working with children and teenagers.  Seriously, Shatkin addresses so many things throughout this book, including social media, the idea that teens think they are invincible and peer pressure, just to name a few topics.  Some humor is sprinkled in as well as personal anecdotes, along with the research, the lists and the facts.  This is an easy book to read as it flows so nicely and is neatly divided into chapters, making it also a great resource to go pick up and read a section that pertains to the moment or season in life.  This is such a tough time in a person's life, but it can also be rewarding and a time of learning with good supports.  I highly recommend this book! 

About the Author:
Nationally recognized child and adolescent psychiatrist Jess P. Shatkin, M.D., M.P.H., is one of the country's foremost voices in child and adolescent mental health. He serves as Vice Chair for Education at the Child Study Center and Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. He has been featured in top print, radio, TV, and Internet outlets, including the New York Times, Good Morning America, Parade, New York Magazine, Health Day, CBS Evening News, New York Daily News, Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. In addition, for the past eight years Dr. Shatkin has been the host of "About Our Kids," a two-hour call-in radio show broadcast live on SiriusXM's Doctor Radio. He lives in New York City with his wife and two teenage children.

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