cover image The Breakthrough Years: A New Scientific Framework for Raising Thriving Teens

The Breakthrough Years: A New Scientific Framework for Raising Thriving Teens

Ellen Galinsky. Flatiron, $32.99 (560p) ISBN 978-1-250-06204-8

In this superb guide, Galinsky (Mind in the Making), president of the Families and Work Institute, expounds on how parents can support their children through adolescence. Listening to the concerns of more than 1,500 nine- to 19-year-olds for a study, she discovered five main messages teens want adults to know, including “listen and talk with us, not at us,” and “don’t stereotype us.” Drawing on academic research to explore each message, Galinsky helps parents “understand our development” by explaining that the teen brain’s reward center is more active than adults’, which can motivate risk-taking but also seeking new opportunities. The research yields practical advice, as when Galinsky notes studies showing that recognizing teens’ need for both agency and guidance when solving problems helps them feel more confident. To embrace this style of caregiving, Galinsky recommends parents share their perspective while providing their child with choices on how to move forward. The astounding amount of research touches on how to promote executive function skills and teens’ belief that they have the power to effect positive change, among myriad other topics, and it’s to the credit of Galinsky’s lucid prose and sensible organization that it never feels overwhelming. Overflowing with insight backed by scientific rigor, this is an essential companion for parents of adolescents. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (Mar.)