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

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  • Why Do They Act That Way?

    Proven Strategies to Understand and Stay Connected to Your Teen

Become the parent you want to be – and the parent your teenager needs you to be – without being overwhelmed by conflicting advice, the shame of parenting “shoulds,” or the self doubts that rear up in response to your kid’s big changes.

If you are a parent of a teenager, parent of a soon-to-be-teenager, or play an important role in a teenager’s life and want to be prepared and stay connected during the teenage years then you already know that you need all the support you can get. Your teenager needs you now more than ever–even though they might never tell you that. 

But figuring out HOW to stay connected with teens is tricky, especially as they jump on an emotional rollercoaster or start pulling away.

You’ve probably also heard that your teen’s brain is still under construction and the more you know about the construction zones the more prepared you are to navigate them. You already know that raising a teenager isn’t easy, but did you know that parents of middle schoolers report that it is the single most stressful time in their parenting lives?

We created this six week self-study class to give you insight, support, and affirmation when you need it most.

Start the course

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

Dr. Dave Walsh and Erin Walsh, Course Instructors and Co-Authors of National Bestseller Why Do They Act That Way

This 6-week self-study online class will bring you:

More connection

You will practice creative ways to connect with your teen, ensuring that your relationship stays intact through big changes.

More empathy, more patience

Rather than taking it personally, you will understand why your teenager is acting the way that they do, allowing you to be calmer and more grounded in your parenting.

More clarity

You will be able to strike that tricky balance of knowing when to step in to help your teen and when to let them learn on their own.

More confidence

Adolescence can be an adventure to be lived, not just a problem to be solved. With more knowledge and tools you can actually have fun during this giant developmental leap.

“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 the help we needed!” 

– Sally

This is the teen 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

You don’t want to just “get through” the teenage years.

You want to look back and know you met the challenges with bravery and, dare we say it, joy.

But right now it just feels hard and you have no idea how to make it any easier.

The two tempting approaches to parenting teens that backfire:

  • The Takeover

    You know that the teenage years are full of risk taking, experimenting, and testing limits. You also have less control over their behavior and decisions than ever before.

    It’s easy to let your fears drive your approach to parenting and fall into the “Takeover” approach. In other words, “Go to your room until you are 25!”

    When you take over, you rely on harsh discipline or do things for your teen that they should be doing themselves. You are working under the belief that your teen is a risk to be managed and controlled until adulthood.

  • Hands Off and Hope

    You are tired of the power struggles and exhausted by your teen’s rebellion. Your teen is demanding that you back off and it is easy to fall into the “Hands Off” approach.

    In other words, “See you when you are 25!”

    You might check in with them over texts but otherwise they are in charge. You are working under the belief that your teen will have to learn the hard way and there’s nothing you can do to shape their behavior. You provide shelter and food but the rest is up to them.

Time to set a new course. Time to loosen without letting go.

Here’s the truth:

There are two roads we can take in parenting when we confront big challenges. You can either get stuck in survival mode or greet the changes in your child with a willingness to change yourself.

It might not always feel easy. It is going to be hard work. It’s going to be vulnerable. You and your teen are forging a new path – and you can’t do it alone. The key ingredients are trusted guidance, ongoing support, and a community of parents who care as much as you do.

Introducing

Here is what you can expect in this self-study online class:

This course is designed as a self-study. This means that you can work through the content on your own schedule and timeline! To help you dive in, you will get access to a new “Spark” every week for first six weeks. Watch short videos and work through downloads on your own time while getting your questions answered in comments and in our Spark & Stitch classes Facebook group. Then access for a full year so you can revisit the content when you and your kids need it most.

WEEK 1 SPARK: 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.

Highlights:

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

WEEK 2 SPARK: 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?

WEEK 3 SPARK: 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

WEEK 5 SPARK: 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

WEEK 6 SPARK: 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

Money Back Guarantee

Nobody’s time is more precious and valuable than that of a parent. By the end of this course you will have received over twenty five short and engaging video lessons, fifteen strategy-packed downloadable guides, and had the opportunity to ask specific questions every week.

We are confident that if you really engage in this course, you will feel the difference in how you see your teen and how you parent them. If you don’t see the value – we will give you your money back.

If, after six weeks of engagement and demonstrating that you’ve worked through the materials and exercises, you still aren’t satisfied, you can reach out to the Spark & Stitch team and we’ll work with you to get your money back.


Here is what you are getting when you start today:


  • 32 video lessons
  • 15 downloads that include more information, practical strategies, reflection prompts, and exercises
  • Access to private social community for support, Q&A, and conversation
  • Full year access to the content
  • More empathy, more confidence, and more connection with your teen

Questions people ask before joining the class

When does self-study mean?

Prepare for flexible learning! Self-study means that you don’t need to show up at a specific time to take advantage of this class. Instead, you can watch the videos and work through the downloads on your own schedule. When you start the class, you will get access to a new module, or “Spark,” every week for the first six weeks. You can watch these videos and do the work on your own time! You might choose to squeeze them in during the day or watch them in your jammies at night. It’s up to you. Then you have access for a full year so you can come back to the content when you and your teen need it most.

How much time will it take me to do this class?

Whatever you put into this is what you will get out of it. We’ve carefully designed the videos and guides to get you the most important information and strategies in a compelling and succinct way while also allowing for a deeper dive for those who want to take it.

That said, at a minimum you can plan on carving out a half-hour a week to watch the video lessons and a half-hour to work through the guides on your own time. So plan on at least an hour a week (more if you want to take a deeper dive) that you dedicate to growing your understanding, building your toolkit, and becoming the parent you want to be.

What if the information and strategies don’t fit my family or teen?

Parenting is complicated. Teenagers are complicated. Don’t believe anyone who says that they will solve every challenge in one online class. That said, we have worked hard to make the information accessible and the homework concrete so that you are constantly translating big ideas into strategies that work for you and your kid. Plus, community and Q&As! That’s where so much of the messiness gets sorted out. We are all in it together.

Please also know that we have presented and facilitated workshops with audiences of diverse backgrounds and identities. While your instructors for this course are white, we have a passion for and a commitment to inclusive design and work to make space for different identities, cultural traditions, and life experiences.

If I have read the book Why Do They Act That Way or seen you speak should I still take the class?

We think so! We love delivering keynote addresses and writing books. But sometimes keynotes only have time for an over-packed WHY and leave you hanging when it comes to the details of WHAT NOW? And you are not alone if you have ever wished that you could ask a book a specific question and get an answer in real-time. 

This class will give you the chance to digest information on your own time, get access to guides packed full of more practical strategies, and troubleshoot challenges as they arise. You also get to decide when and where it makes the most sense to engage in this content, whether it is early in the morning, late at night, or while you are waiting for soccer practice to end in the parking lot.

Do I have to do it in six weeks? What happens after the class?

Nope. We know that you will get the most out of this course when you commit to it and dive in for the first six week. That said, you will have access to the content for a full year.

You might choose to revisit certain sections when a challenge arises, dive into the exercises more fully when you have more time, or run through the whole thing again when your next kid hits adolescence! You do you.

What makes this course different from other parenting classes?

This class is based on decades of experience bridging science to your parenting struggles. We’ve designed workshops and delivered keynotes about the teenage brain to thousands of parents around the world for over twenty years. We co-authored the national best selling book Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen, on which this course is based. We’ve listened to parents and teenagers about common challenges and triumphs. We’ve taken everything we’ve learned and channeled it into this comprehensive course.

Dr. Dave is the psychologist and parenting expert you wished lived next door and Erin is the youth-focused social scientist you already feel like you are friends with. Together they draw on parenting, grandparenting, youth work, and research to make things accessible, actionable, and inspiring.

As a father-daughter team, we’ve lived through the adolescent years and teach not only from our heads, but from our hearts too. We literally filmed this course in Erin’s home. Parenting doesn’t happen in a studio and neither does this online class.

What if my kid isn’t a teenager yet?

Let’s be honest, adolescence is getting longer and longer (from anecdotal surveys it appears to range from age 9-30, so we use the term loosely! Really though, taking this class now is the perfect way to prepare for the storms that might come with adolescence, making it much more likely that you weather them together with minimal damage.

What if I am not a parent?

While this class is certainly packed with “home-based” strategies, anyone who cares about teenagers can get a lot out of it. The information is relevant to educators, aunties, uncles,  grandparents, and youth serving professionals. We invite you to translate the information and strategies into your own context.

How much access do I get to Dr. Dave and Erin?

We are excited to be with you on this journey and support your engagement in the course and the materials!  Erin or Dr. Dave will also be in our private Facebook community to engage, answer questions, and cheer you on.

This class is not a way to receive therapeutic support, clinical guidance, or receive one-to-one consultation. We are happy to provide recommendations for resources in your area and we will offer a library of online resources for additional support.

Can I get CEUs for this class?

This content has qualified for CEUs from most major professional boards. We do not directly provide CEUs but can send you the documentation you need to apply for them from your board.

Can you remind me of everything I’m getting when I sign up for this class?


Here is what you are getting when you enroll today:


  • 32 video lessons
  • 15 downloads that include more information, practical strategies, reflection prompts, and exercises
  • Access to private social community for support, Q&A, and conversation
  • Full year access to the content
  • More empathy, more confidence, and more connection with your teen

5 ways to know you are ready to start this course:

  1. You are willing to carve out a little bit of dedicated time each week to shift your relationship with your teenager towards more connection and better communication.
  2. You don’t want to just “get through” the teenage years or miss this sensitive window of opportunity.
  3. You’ve read parenting books or articles but have found that without continuing support it is hard to implement new ways of relating to your teen.
  4. You are eager for a class that allows you to learn when and where you want to and allows you to tailor strategies to fit who you are.
  5. You know that you are your teen deserve this extra boost of trusted support and help.

If you said yes to at least 3 of the above, we can’t wait to meet you inside Why Do They Act That Way!

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

– Dr. David Walsh, Course instructor and author of national bestseller Why Do They Act That Way, A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen