Logo of Spark & Stitch Institute with Dr. David Walsh and Erin Walsh

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  • Are you looking for 21st century ways to support parents?

    Online learning that fosters offline connections

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A new way to engage and support parents at your school or institution.


Why Do They Act That Way?

The six-week online class with proven strategies to help parents understand and stay connected to their teenagers.

It’s harder and harder to get parents to show up for parent nights at school. This can lead to missed opportunities, wasted resources, and a decreased sense that school is a learning environment for the whole family.

More and more institutions are looking for ways to support their parent employees. Parents today are juggling and need learning opportunities that align with their busy lives. This doesn’t mean that parents are any less motivated to do what’s best for their kids. 

Parents of teens and soon-to-be-teens are especially in need of extra parenting support and concrete strategies to stay connected to their child through big changes at home and at school.  You’ve probably heard that teenagers’ brains are under construction and the more that parents know about the construction zones the more prepared they are to navigate them. Parents of middle schoolers report that it is the single most stressful time in their parenting lives.

You need new tools to help parents do the work at home that helps their children succeed. We are thrilled to offer group licenses that allow you to bring support, insight, and strategies on parenting teens to your community.

Dr. Dave Walsh and Erin Walsh introducing online class Why Do They Act That Way?

Course instructors, father and daughter team Dr. Dave Walsh and Erin Walsh. Co-Authors of National Bestselling book Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen

Why Do They Act That Way? is the only online class of its kind that…

Allows parents to engage in learning how and when they want to.

Not everyone can attend parent education sessions at night or over the lunch hour but all parents need extra support during times of big change. Build a culture where parents understand what their teenager needs and how to support them in school and at home.

Offers clear, transformational strategies that can adapt to fit different families.

Parents and teens are unique. With access to 33 short videos, interactive guides and exercises, live Q &A, and an online community forum, parents are able to find and practice approaches that work for them.

Allows parents to learn on their own time, connect at school, and partner for student success.

Group licenses allow parents across a school community to participate in the course. Many school complement the course with school-based launches, meet-ups, or discussion groups.

Offers a unique benefit to working parents.

Create a caring workplace where parents get the support they need to manage the stressors of parenting teens.

Here’s how it works:

1. Fill out the group license form.

2. We will get in touch with you to learn more about your needs.

3. Get unique codes to distribute to parents in your community.

4. Build parent capabilities and strengthen your partnership with parents.

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Here is what paents can expect

SPARK 1: Why Do They Act That Way?

We get started by taking a tour of the construction zones in your teenager’s brain. Knowing what’s going on inside your teenager shifts how you respond to them.


  • The emotional gas pedal is pressed to the floor
  • Risk taking, dopamine and the teenage brain
  • Embracing the new normal

SPARK 2: Loosen But Don’t Let Go – Staying Connected To Your Teen

It’s hard to know both why it matters and how to stay connected with your teenager when they are pushing you away.

Highlights include: 

  • Why Your Teen Still Needs You (Even If They Won’t Admit It)
  • Connection Unleashes Your Teen’s Brilliance
  • Tips and Tricks for Getting Creative With Connection
  • Phones or Face-to-Face?

SPARK 3: Setting Limits and Avoiding Power Struggles

Learn the tricky but essential middle road between the “takeover” and the “hands off” approaches to discipline with your teen.

Highlights include:

  • It’s Your Teen’s Job to Push Against the Limits; It’s Your Job To Set Them
  • The Strategy of Limits and Consequences and When It Doesn’t Go As Planned
  • Why Are You Always Yelling At Me? Communication and the Teenage Brain
  • How to Negotiate With Your Teen Without Being a Pushover

WEEK 4 SPARK: Managing Feelings, Stress, and Mental Health

Adolescence is a stressful time. Learn how to help your teenager handle their stress while also making sure you don’t miss more serious mental health concerns.

Highlights include:

  • It’s Not Your Job To Rescue Your Teen From Their Feelings
  • Stress and Your Teen’s Brain
  • Back to the Basics: Sleep, Exercise, and Food
  • Recognizing signs of mental illness
  • Don’t Ignore Mental Health

SPARK 5: Independence vs. Guidance – What’s the Right Balance?

The goal is for your teen to become a resilient, capable adult. How do you help them get there?

Highlights include:

  • How to Help Your Teenager Set Goals and Reach Them
  • The Turn Towards Friends: Identity, Drama, and Support
  • The Talk(s) – Sex AND Relationships
  • Don’t Duck Difficult Conversations

SPARK 6: Raising a Teen Requires Community

This final spark will inspire you to not only connect with your teen but to a wider circle of support.

Highlights include:

  • Helping Your Teen Find Their Purpose
  • You Can’t Do This Alone
  • Parenting with a Growth Mindset

What parents have said about the course:


    “I have already recommended this course to several parents! It is a fantastic, comprehensive and accessible overview of adolescent brain development and behavior. It also offered loads of reflection exercises (so much of parenting is an inside job, reflecting on our own family of origin and baggage) and actionable tools. So great.”

    Sarah, participant in fall course 2019


    “This is the teen ECFE class that I wished for, full of simply presented insight into the teen brain geared towards a better (and happier!) way to parent through connection. Dr. Walsh and Erin present real (not idealized) techniques. They recognize that there will be bumps and bruises along the way and offer guidelines to help identify when typical behaviors & emotions cross over into concerning ones. It is clear that they have a real passion for helping parents and a deep affection for teens.”

    Naomi, Participant in fall course 2019


    “I have always looked forward to raising teenagers, albeit a little nervous also. But it’s different and scarier when it’s our own kiddos. Your reminders helped: She is doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing, and right on time. It’s the process of letting go that is so gutting. She is becoming her own person – and we’re growing as much as she is. Your class is helping!!” 

    Sally, Participant in fall course 2019

“Adolescence is not a problem to be solved, but an adventure to be lived.”

Dr. Dave Walsh