In Case You Missed It...Summaries of Local Programs for Parents/Families
Below are brief summaries of recent events for parents in our community
Brain Development in Adolescence
Age of Opportunity
On Thursday, November 19, 2015, as part of The Shipley School's Social, Emotional and Ethical Development (SEED) program, Laurence Steinberg, PhD. presented on the Brain Development in Adolescence.
Presenter: Dr. Steinberg is a psychologist who has done extensive research that is focused on a range of topics in the study of contemporary adolescence, including adolescent brain development, risk-taking and decision-making, parent-adolescent relationships, adolescent employment, high school reform, and juvenile justice. He is a professor at Temple University and has previously taught at Cornell, University of California, Irvine and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Steinberg recently published a book titled Age of Opportunity, Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence that is based upon his research on adolescent brain development. He concludes that adolescence spans a longer period of time than in earlier generations, that the brain is malleable, and that adolescence is more important to one's development than early childhood.
Reasons for the Program: Obesity, exposure to chemicals in the environment (ie., pesticides, cosmetics, plastics), and increased exposure to artificial light (ie., smart phones, tablets, computers) are contributors to the earlier onset of puberty (the beginning of adolescence). Dr. Steinberg defined the end of adolescence as when the individual has transitioned into adulthood, which he defined as being employed, getting married and starting a family. This transition into adulthood has extended because of economic factors including being in school longer and therefore being financially supported by parents.
Main Takeaways: Dr. Steinberg discussed the plasticity of the brain, specifically the pre-frontal cortex which is the most advanced part of the human brain. It dictates how the rest of the brain functions and is responsible for "executive functions" such as planning ahead, taking risks vs. safety, and self-regulation. Risk taking is thought to be more prevalent among adolescents due to an increase in sex hormones which increases dopamine, the pleasure neurohormone. In other words, if something makes one feel good, he will continue doing it despite the risk involved. It is also thought that peer relationships lead to an activation of dopamine and therefore increases risky behavior within the peer group.
According to Dr. Steinberg, the most important cognitive trait is self-regulation. He has found that self-regulation leads to success in school, the workplace, and that individuals have more satisfying relationships with people. Dr. Steinberg feels the pre-frontal cortex must be stimulated by challenging teenagers and giving them goals that are realistically attainable. He emphasized that putting stress on teenagers is counterproductive and produces an excess of cortisol. Appropriately challenging adolescents can help to increase intelligence, social, and emotional growth. Mindfulness training, getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night and exercise are also important factors in building self-regulation.
Finally, Dr. Steinberg answered the question, "Why do people remember adolescence the most?". He coined the term "reminiscence bump" to explain that as adults, we are likely to recall "first" experiences such as going to a concert because the adolescent brain is highly malleable to such intense sensory experiences. This is why he feels that adolescence is more important to development than any other stage of development, including early childhood.
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This dynamic "Speak Out" presentation was held at The New Leaf Club on
September 28, 2015.
Presenters: Carl Antisell, Chapter Lead of Young People in Recovery, Laura Herzog, a high school senior in long term recovery that speaks in high schools and middle schools about healthier decision making, and six other youth in long term recovery from substance use disorder.
Reasons for the Program: The panelists spoke for about ten minutes each on some of the red flags and warning signs that preceded their struggle with substance use disorder, and then they all spoke about how they found recovery and what recovery has allowed them to accomplish in their lives. The main objective of the night was to reduce the stigma around addiction by showing people that a person in recovery is much different from a person struggling in addiction. By having these conversations, young people like the panelists can get help sooner, and then serve as examples of sobriety and recovery to their peers.
There was also a lead up event to a large rally held in Washington, DC on October 4th - Unite to Face Addiction.
- Have conversations in your family early and often about drugs and alcohol. You might not always have the right thing to say, but having these conversations leaves the door open for your child to ask for help and for you to notice any changes or concerning behaviors.
- The following red flags could accompany a substance abuse issue: decline in grades; decline in motivation; loss of interest or engagement in favorite clubs, hobbies or activities; too much or too little sleep; change in friends.
- If you are concerned your child could have an addiction, get support. You could reach out to your child's pediatrician and/or school counselor(s) as a first step.
- Having a child in recovery is not a negative thing. Empower them to redefine their negative experiences by helping others going through the same thing.
- If you have a child who is struggling, you deserve support too. Seek out support groups or counseling for yourself while your child seeks recovery When parents are active in their recovery along with the child, the family can heal faster.
For More Information....
Other Local resources:
"Straight Talk" sponsored by Montgomery County Drug Court
Mon., January 18, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
The New Leaf Club
The Representation Project
"Miss Representation" exposes
how mainstream media contributes
to the under-representation of
women in positions of power and influence in America.
Thurs., January 21, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
Bryn Mawr Film Institute
Continue the Conversation: Parent Coffee. Topic is Mental Health
Friday, February 12, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.
Speak Up! at 528 Lancaster Avenue
Sleep and the Adolescent Brain
Sun., February 21, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.
Radnor Middle School
Speak Up! On Sports
(For All High School Students,
Parents, and Coaches)
Thurs., February 25, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
The Haverford School
Continue the Conversation: Parent Coffee. Topic is Gender Identity
Friday, March 11, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.
Speak Up! at 528 Lancaster Avenue
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