Author helps parents of teen

Although her book tour isn’t scheduled until fall, Dr. Laura Kastner is already looking forward to making a stop in La Jolla.

The daughter of longtime La Jollans Rexford and Joan Kastner, Laura Kastner, Ph.D., is a thrice-published author, as well as a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.

While many of her visits to the Jewel have centered around watching her two children ride the surf and soaking up the scenery, her next trip to Southern California will be a working vacation as she promotes the release of her new book.

“Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens” is Kastner’s third resource manual so to speak, penned with co-author Jennifer Wyatt, Ph.D. Their other books include “The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2002) and “The Seven Year Stretch: How Families Work Together to Grow Through Adolescence” (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

Her current release explores the science of teens’ brain development, the importance of parents’ managing emotion to facilitate effective communication and surviving common teen situations.

Focused on “the culture of adolescents,” Kastner wanted to write a book without the negative spin prevalent in much of the literature about the teen years. While she acknowledges that this can be a turbulent period for both parents and kids, Kastner felt that parents would be better equipped to handle these challenges if they had some understanding of why teens are the way they are.

Research shows that developmentally, teens’ brains are changing during this time, making them sort of “hard wired to be dopes, not demons,” Kastner said. This process results in common teen behaviors such as mood swings, risk taking, taking back and so on.

Kastner readily admits this isn’t an excuse for these actions but that parents need to know it’s not a power struggle either. As adults, parents need to be responsible for “getting to calm” in order to negotiate these teen pitfalls. “It has to be the parents who are more accountable,” she said.

“Getting to Calm” is laid out in 10 chapters that address specific situations with explanations, tips, strategies and anecdotes. Parents of teens and tweens will recognize many of the scenarios: When your Sweet Child Morphs into a Sassy Teen, When Your Trustworthy Teen Pulls a Fast One and When Your Teen is “Going Out” (aka dating).

Kastner was inspired to begin writing for the general public after realizing how much valuable information was available in the academic and clinical settings.

“Increasingly I was doing more public speaking about parenting,” Kastner said. “So many parents benefit by a bit of knowledge from here and there.”

Citing the frightful statistic that 80 percent of all teens will act out, be moody and/or take risks, Kastner said, “You can’t dodge the bullet. This is what happens during the teen years.”

“Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens” is available at