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Good doctor helps parents tackle their tough teens
Nagging, yelling and threatening no longer are the best approaches to solving problems between parents and their contentious teenagers.
Today's busy parents simply need a new strategy, a different way of dealing with today's kids embroiled in their challenging teen years.
So says Dr. Laura Kastner – a mother, psychiatrist and co-author of a third book, "Getting to C.A.L.M.", Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens ( www.parentmap.com ).
"It's really for parents to help them through the meltdowns," said Dr. Kastner, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington and a nationally recognized expert on teen behavior and development. "Parents have to be calm, take time and think strategically: 'What message should I use there, what approach should I use here?' "
Dr. Kastner will discuss her new book to parents in Tacoma on Thursday (7-9 p.m., Stadium High School, 111 NE St.) and Bellevue on May 19 (7-9 p.m., Meydenbauer Center, 11100 NE 6th St.).
Dr. Kastner's book offers a realistic, interesting and entertaining guide for parents to rationally and carefully address "hot button" issues with tweens (pre-teen stage) and teens.
She focuses on the most common sources of family strife during the teen years, and provides parents clear and approachable strategies for tackling them.
Among those areas:
• When a teen is rude and sarcastic
• When teen problems drive a wedge between parents
• When a teen is acting like a spoiled brat
• When a teen experiments with sex or drugs
Parents often become irrational and emotional when dealing with such problems, Dr. Kastner said. During these rough times, which will happen even in the best of families, parents can feel ashamed, scared and filled with self-doubts.
But Dr. Kastner – along with co-author Dr. Jennifer Wyatt – prescribes effective ways to tackle the problems.
Shouting, for instance, doesn't always soothe the conflict.
"It doesn't work. In fact, it deteriorates the relationship," Dr. Kastner said. "By staying calm, parents can access their own brains. … By staying calm, being succinct, using tools available to them, they can make a difference."
Dr. Kastner suggests parents try new approaches, such as offering a reward system or making contracts with their kids.
Parents should understand that teens are going through many physiological changes. They also need their space, but they also need structure and guidance, especially in challenging times.
"We do have to let go … and they need more autonomy," she said. "We certainly shouldn't let go of the reins too early. Part of the art is when do parents let go of the reins and when not to."
The book explores many areas and devotes chapters to a wide range of topics – from "When Your Teen Wants to Be Wired All the Time" to "When You Need to Talk About Sex", from "When Your Sweet Child Morphs into a Sassy Teen" to "When You Catch Your Teen Drinking or Smoking".
Dr. Kastner presents the book as a doctor, but also as a parent. Her written script and lectures are a way to connect with parents.
"I love interacting with them," she said. "… We are all in this together."
Tickets for Dr. Laura Kastner's lecture are $18 in advance, $25 at the door. For information and tickets, go to www.parentmap.com/Pathways or call 1-800-838-3006.