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May 6, 2024 13 mins
"Just wait until they’re teenagers!" That's the warning we’ve likely said or heard about the challenge of dealing with adolescents. But what if it doesn’t have to be that way? Our guest is child development expert Ellen Galinsky, with her new book THE BREAKTHROUGH YEARS:  A New Scientific Framework for Raising Thriving Teens. In her role as President of Families and Work Institute, she challenges assumptions about the teenage years, offering new ways for parents and others to better understand and interact with adolescents in ways that help them thrive.
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(00:02):
Welcome to Get Connected with Nina delRio, a weekly conversation about fitness,
health and happenings in our community onone oh six point seven Light FM.
Good morning, and thanks for listeningto get connected. Just wait until they're
teenagers. We've all said or hearda version of that warning about the challenge

(00:23):
of dealing with adolescents. But whatif it doesn't have to be that way?
What if it doesn't have to bea warning. Our guest is child
development expert Ellen Galinsky, challenging assumptionsabout the teenage years and offer new ways
for parents and others to better understandand interact with adolescence in a way that
helps them thrive. Ellen Galinsky,thank you for being on the show,

(00:44):
My Pleasure. Ellen Galinsky is presidentof Families and Work Institute. She's conducted
research on childcare, parent developmental work, family issues, and youth voice.
Ellen is the author of the bestselling Mind in the Making, more than
one hundred books and reports, andthree hundred articles. Her new book is
The Breakthrough Years, a New scientificFramework for raising Thriving Teens. Interestingly,

(01:08):
Ellen, when you asked parents abouttheir own child's brain during adolescence, asking
about the people they love most inthe world the people they're raising, most
of them had negative responses. Whatdoes that say about their own kids?
And why do we have such anegative mindset. I do a form of
research called civic science, which meansthat I always start with the people who

(01:32):
are going to be the subject ofthe study and ask them what they know
and what they want to know.And young people told me way before I
started the book. They told methat they wanted to understand why adults don't
like teenagers. And that took mein a completely different direction. And one
of the ways I got at itwas to ask that question that you just

(01:53):
discussed. What I found was thatit matters that if we see adolescence,
and I was asking about the genericadolescent brain, you know, could you
use one word to describe the genericadolescent brain. But even if they were
describing not their own childs, butthe but adolescents in general, their own

(02:14):
children weren't doing so well. Soour perceptions matter. And I think of
it today when we're looking at theprotests on campuses. If we think these
young people are a bunch of youknow, idealistic kids who don't understand anything,
we're going to treat them one way, and if we think of them
as people who are wanting to learn, wanting to contribute, we're going to

(02:35):
treat them another way. So ourperceptions matter in our own children, and
they matter in society in general forhow we deal with issues of our times.
Every adult was a teenager at somepoint. Why do we seem to
forget how difficult it was, andwhy do we judge that time so harshly?
It's the curse. It's what's calledand research, the curse of knowledge,

(02:55):
which means that it's hard not toknow something that we now know.
It's you think about going to adoctor and they explain a medical condition that
we have in terms that we completelydon't understand. That's the curse of knowledge
and action. When we look atyoung people, we now know what the
world offers, what experience is.We want to share that. We want

(03:16):
to protect them, we want tohelp them, so we forget what it
feels like to be an adolescent,a teenager, and so that's you know,
we need to both understand what they'regoing through and their need to explore,
their need to contribute, and lookat it from our perspective. And
then I think we also need tounderstand that if we talk at them,

(03:38):
and this was one of the othermessages from adolescents, if we tell them
what to do, it's not goingto work as well as if we involve
them in the solution. Because it'sa critical time for learning skills. Let's
talk about some specifics. So,as you say, it is often common
for adults to pass on information thatmay not be particularly useful. You know,

(03:59):
you say something like that'll that'll pass. It happens to everyone when you
hear a young person's complaints, they'rereally dealing with something difficult, and we're
sort of flippant. What do theyhear when we say that? What is
a more effective response? I thinka way to think about it is how
we feel when someone we loved eyesand people say to us, you'll get
over it. Or if I hada miscarriage and people have said to me,

(04:21):
well, you can have another one. So it's the same thing.
We are mourning that right now.Our feelings are intense, and so are
adolescents. So if we can betterif we say we understand that you're supposed
to feel things really strongly at thistime, and you're like, that's how
you're going to figure out where yourplace in the world is, who's safe,

(04:42):
who's not, whom you want tobe and become. And those feelings
will be different when you're older,but right now you're supposed to feel this
way. That helps them understand themselvesand not feel that they're not being taken
seriously and respected. Regarding big emotions, I want to ask about that really
quick. But let me remind everybodywho we're speaking with. Ellen Galinski.
She's president of Families in Work Institute. A popular keynote speaker, She's been

(05:04):
a presenter at five White House Conferences, including the White House Conference on Teenagers
in two thousand. Her new bookis The Breakthrough Years, a New scientific
Framework for raising thriving teams. You'relistening to get connected on one oh six
point seven light FM. I'm nadel rio. It feels like teenagers have
big emotional swings, which is notentirely a bad thing. What are those

(05:27):
big swings about? All adolescents arewhat we call sensation seekers. That is,
the highs are high, the lowsare low. They feel things very
intensely. They have to. Howelse would they move out into the world,
how else would we they have thecourage to leave the safety of the
home, the family, the worldthat they've known and go on to college

(05:50):
or jobs or you know, formingrelationships that are going to be there in
their future. So they have tofeel that way. We have to understand
that their program, their biology isprograms them to feel that way. And
so it's it's not just the bugand development is actually a feature of development.

(06:10):
It's actually positive. It's a developmentalnecessity. And if we understand that,
we can work with teenagers in amuch better way. What is a
tool to help them manage that thoughwhen it's necessary or when they're in a
particularly difficult you know, emotional moment, Probably not in the in the height
of the moment, but to stepback, and sometimes it helps to talk

(06:30):
about a third person rather than themdirectly, but to say the you know
what, what you're experiencing. Let'ssay someone rejected you or broke up with
you, or they all went tothe mall and they didn't tell you,
and you go to the mall andyou see them all there. You know
Taylor Swift's song. So what ifwe say, yes, you're supposed to
feel really strongly about this now,but what ideas do you have to manage

(06:56):
it because this is the time intheir brain development when they're developing what are
called executive function skills, most importantskills that we have for success now and
success in the future. They arethings like being able to take the perspectives
of other people. They are thingslike being able to communicate, to collaborate,
to take on challenges, to solveproblems, to set goals and plans

(07:16):
for achieving them. So these arethe times when they're learning those skills,
and if we can help them gainthese skills through solving their own problems,
number one, it will help themnow and in the future. But number
two, when we tell them whatto do and initiatives like trying to get
kids to stop smoking and saying justsay no to smoking or to stop bullying,
just don't do it haven't worked.When young people are involved in the

(07:41):
solutions, they're much more likely tocarry them out. You talk about that
the shared solutions approach. A coupleof keys to that talking with kids,
getting their perspective. What else isinvolved in that? Well? Shared solutions
is something that I discovered as ateacher a long time ago. How did
I know that there was a hugeresearch about it. It wasn't then now
there is. I also use itas a parent, and it really made

(08:05):
our teenage years much less rocky thanone might think. You know that people
think is the norm. It isn'talways the norm. But this really helped.
There are four steps to shared solutions. At a calm moment, you
describe the problem, You describe whatyour expectation is. We're still the adults.
We need to set rules. Youwill keep your curfew. You know

(08:26):
this is not a safe party foryou to go to. Whatever it is
about cell phone use or you know, whatever the rule is. And then
you say what ideas do you havefor managing it? And then list them
in fact, write them down.Good idea to write them down? No
idea is the stupid idea? Andthen say what would work about that idea
for you? And what would workabout that idea for me? So you're

(08:50):
teaching the skill of perspective taking inaddition to problem solving, in addition to
taking on challenges, and then picka solution, call it a change experiment.
Let's try this, let's experiment,Let's see if it works, and
then try it. If it doesn'twork, come back and do it.
Families have used this have found amazingsuccess. Like one family I interviewed,
I told her about this and shecame back and tried it with her son

(09:15):
about he, you know, wentstraight for the video games after school,
didn't do his homework. Evenings werea disaster. So she said, what
ideas do you have? You know, you know that when you haven't done
your homework, when you throw allyour stuff on the floor coming in,
it isn't a good scene in ourhouse. So what ideas do you have
for it? And he came upwith the idea of going in a different

(09:35):
door, putting in his stuff stuffaway right away because that was the door
where the hooks were and where theshelves were for the backpack instead of throwing
them on the floor, and thento take forty five minutes if he was
going to do video games, butset a timer himself so that he would
then do his homework if he neededto veg out or otherwise, go straight
to homework. And it's working inthat family. And when it stops working,

(09:58):
come up with another plan. Ifthey see that you're serious about listening
to them, they will follow it. And I use this with my grandson
around video games what's the transition ifyou are on the phone, what's going
to help you transition away from thephone, because he loves those action games.
Motivation. Parents are always worried aboutmotivation. Where does motivation come from

(10:20):
and what kind of feedback motivates ateenager. Intrinsic motivation is best, which
means that you're doing something because youwant to. But in life, adults
probably only ten percent of the time, according to the research of Wendy Rohlnik
can do things because it's completely intrinsic. So we have motivation that becomes a
part of us. It becomes partof our values. So we need to

(10:43):
do our homework, and not justso that you can get a job and
not be a bum on the street, which is what most parents say to
kids. They hate that they tellme of it that all the time.
But figure out what they're learning thatcould actually help them in the future.
Talk about what's meaningful for them tolearn, and also if you help them
reflect on the skills that they're learningthrough these conversations with you. You're learning

(11:07):
to make plans, you're learning tostick to something that's hard, You're learning
how to deal with rejection. Thoseare skills that are going to help you
in all of your life. Thenthey'll be much more motivated to try it
because they see that it can bea win for them and it can be
a win for their family as well. Ellen, I was listening to a
podcast the other day and it wasabout failure and workplaces, and interestingly,

(11:28):
there was where there was more support, guidance and teamwork, there were all
so more reported failures and mistakes.And the data suggested it's because when people
felt more support and there would beless of a threat of punishment, they
felt more comfortable reporting failures than hidingthem. How does that dynamic does it?
I assume would work for parents andkids too. We have this idea

(11:50):
of mistakes as something bad, andas young people said to me, it
is not the end of the world. You can't learn without trying something and
seeing what works and what doesn't.So if we understand that much learning is
trial and error, and the erroris intrinsic to it, it's not just
a mistake that's bad, but it'sreally the way we learn. In Adam

(12:11):
Grant's new book Hidden Potential, hetalks about when he learned to dive and
the teacher helped him make as manymistakes as possible in the beginning, because
that was the way for him tolearn how to do it best. I
think if we see that trial anderror is the way that we learn,
and that mistakes are absolutely part andparcel of it, that's important. Companies
have slogans called failing to succeed,and they know in R and D that

(12:35):
they're going to invest in a lotof things that aren't going to work.
But if you don't have a chanceto try, then you'll never have that
breakthrough product. It's also a timein development, in adolescence when young people
are programmed in a sense, ifyou want to call it that, to
take positive risks. So it's areally good time for learning from trial and

(12:58):
error because the lessons that you getnow, you know, in the adolescent
years, are very formative for yourwhole life. Our guest is Ellen Galinsky.
Her new book is The Breakthrough Years, a New scientific Framework for raising
thriving Teams. There's so much morein the book, Ellen Galinsky, thank
you for being my guest on GetConnected, Hi Pleasure. This has been

(13:18):
Get Connected with Nina del Rio onone oh six point seven Light FM.
The views and opinions of our guestsdo not necessarily reflect the views of the
station. If you missed any partof our show or want to share it,
visit our website for downloads and podcastsat one oh six to seven lightfm
dot com. Thanks for listening.
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