#40 Building Motivation & Stress Tolerance for Happy Teens Transcript



Ned Johnson  00:00

By dealing with an adverse experience something that’s real hard, even something that’s traumatic, but having something we can do, where we feel a sense of control, and we can cope with that. It wires the brain not to freak out and freeze fight or flight response, but to jump into coping mode and say, What can I do now? And so the challenge is when we as parents, we take away the control, we solve kids problems for them, we make decisions for them. We deprive them of the opportunities to wrestle with these things themselves, but also and most importantly, to wire brains that can cope under pressure. They can handle stress, they can be resilient and they can be intrinsically motivated.


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:38

As a parent, you just want to raise your team to be a happy and launched adult, right. Made to Ned Johnson, along with his co author, Dr. Williams sticks. Roode, a clinical neuro psychologist has written two books on the science behind what’s going on in your teens brain and what you as a parent can do and shouldn’t do to build motivation and stress tolerance, which will lead to a happy, thriving child. During my conversation with men. I found myself vacillating between patting myself on the back and finding a much better way to parent hewell to. I’m Lisa marker Robbins. And I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to learning why it’s important to help our kids feel a sense of control and how to facilitate that in a healthy and neuroscience based way. Well, it’s my pleasure to welcome Ned Johnson to the podcast. He’s a self professed tutor geek and I told him I was going to use it because he said at first, he has spent nearly 50,001 on one hours, helping students not only overcome test performance issues, but more importantly, what I want to have him on the podcast today is to talk about learning to manage their anxiety and develop their own motivation to succeed. He’s a co author of two books that are sitting right behind me on my bookshelf. As I say one on his net, you’ve got out there it is, you’ve got great insights to share with us today. Welcome, Ned.


Ned Johnson  02:27

Well, thanks for having me. Lisa, I’m looking forward to talking with you. Well,


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:31

I want to dive right in and really talk about something that we as parents have experienced, I am sure even though we haven’t talked about this, because it’s a universal, right? These teenagers are forging independence, and they want control. That is not always fun. And those teenage years, you know, I’m on the other side of it with my older kids. And so I’m going to just say to everybody, it does get better. But SES kids are trying to have this sense of control. From what you’ve shared with us at our books. And I want you to share with our listeners today. Why is it important to help them feel that sense of control that they have?


Ned Johnson  03:18

Well, the two books that we read, The first book is called the self driven child, the science and sense of giving your kids more control over their lives. And we talk about this for really two reasons. One, we want our kids to be motivated in ways that are healthy, right? We want them to be self driven. We want them not just to work hard, but we want them to want to work hard. And it’s easy to fall into a parenting or motivational or an educational style that is really based on extrinsic motivators of carrots and sticks, right, of pushing kids or bribing kids, and those things work. But you have to do the forever, right, you know, where’s my prize? You know, we want kids to want to work hard. The best model for intrinsic motivation is something called self determination theory. And it says that, among other things, we simply have to have a sense of the this is our life, right? This is my life, I get choices over this, I’m going to get out of get out of life, what I put into it, right. And so if we take away from kids the sense of control that they feel no lives and then expect them to be motivated. Oh, good luck with that. And the second thing, beyond motivation issues are we see this just really this, this epidemic, even pre COVID of stress related disorders in young people with anxiety and depression and all the bad things that can come out of that of substance use disorders on and on and on and on. And it turns out that a low sense of control is the most stressful thing that a human nervous system can experience. Right? There’s a wonderful researcher named Sonya Lupien, who heads the Center for Studies of human stress in Montreal, Canada, and she says you can summarize what’s stressful to people with the acronym of nuts. So n is novelty new situations right seeing something new On a test is not exactly exciting unpredictability, you know, is it gonna be okay or not? Okay, well being on time or not on time, it’s hard to experience that T is perceived threat. Pre COVID When anyone could be a lethal vector for kids, mostly that is, it’s a threat to ego. Am I cool to think I’m uncool? Do I look? Do I look like I’m a dope in the class? Does everyone else get this one, I don’t get this. And those strings, novelty, unpredictability, and threats are all hard. But it’s that low sense of control. That’s the worst. And if we have a sense of control, then we can handle those things really well. And when we talk about the neurological underpinnings of mental health, we develop resilience or more classically, stress tolerance, by dealing with an adverse experience something that’s real hard, even something that’s traumatic, but having something we can do, where we feel a sense of control, and we can cope with that it wires the brain not to freak out and freeze fight or flight response, but to jump into coping mode. So what can I do now? And so the challenge is when we as parents do, we take away the control we solve for kids problems for them, we make decisions for them, we deprive them of the opportunities to to wrestle wrestle with these things themselves, but also and most importantly, to wire brains that can cope under pressure, they can handle stress, they can be resilient, and they can be intrinsically motivated. So yeah, that’s that’s controls important.


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:25

I it’s really important. I had no idea I love that, that the the loss of a sense of control is the most stressful thing to our nervous system. And that’s that’s the feels right? I mean that we feel it, we hold it in our body. And I think sometimes the teams don’t even know what they’re what they’re feeling. You know, it’s interesting you you referenced fight or flight I also talked about freeze up on my community. And a lot of times parents will say to me, like, Oh, my kids so unmotivated, you know, is your college major and career course going to help them get motivated. And I always argue, like your kids not unmotivated, they’re motivated to protect themselves. And it looks they’re in a frozen or a flight state, which can look a lot like unmotivated, right,


Ned Johnson  07:13

what’s so true. And there’s also a concept in psychology called handicapping. So a really simple example, you have a kid who is dialing it in and really not doing well and you can have everyone on top of that kid explain you got to work hard and have these grades of material, you’re gonna have no choice for college. What kind of life do you want to build bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, with the idea that if we put more pressure on this kid, that they’ll activate more but more pressure isn’t better because a lot of kids who look like they’re, they don’t care at all, they actually care too much. And so in that situation, it could be you think, the kick and think well, yeah, if I work harder, I could get better grades. But he could also be thinking I could work really hard for teacher that Mr. Johnson, I don’t like him at all. I don’t want to give my parents you know, the, the joy of I told you so Ned, but also, as a kid, you could work really, really hard and go from grades that are really sucky to there’s ones that are sucky plus, and actually discover limits of your ability. And that’s a really threatening thing. What if you put went all out and barely improved, at least this way, from back to that thread that threat to ego, you can say, well, it doesn’t really matter. Anyways, you know, when kids say it’s stupid, this is so stupid, right? Parents oftentimes fall for the trap of trying to explain to the kid how important it is. And a lot of times, this is stupid, what they’re really saying is, this is really threatening to me, I feel really stressed. I feel like everyone else gets this and I don’t. And so we don’t, we want to take a different angle on this. To help kids get to your point, get unfrozen because they want their left to work out. But if you’re if you’re really in the middle of overstressed or panic attack, you can’t use reason to get people through that you need to help calm those emotions, so that the prefrontal cortex back comes back online, and they can start to solve those problems for themselves with our support, rather than trying to drag a kid out of it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  09:03

I love that it is yeah, I mean, you’re we’re both really identifying that your kids not trying to be difficult, they’re just stuck because of all the things so then, you know, I know as parents, when we, when we try to reason with them, it’s sounding like you’re saying like, don’t try to reason your way out of it. Like that could be a problem like, what’s your advice then of what is a parent to do instead, when, you know, these kids are in fight fights very clear. We all know when we’re doing flight, but I think that light or that frozen, look very unmotivated. So what are our best tools to help and empathize and understand where they’re coming from?


Ned Johnson  09:46

So I’ll rattle off a few. The second book that we wrote called called What do you say how to talk with kids to build motivation, stress tolerance, and a happy home starts with a chapter about empathy and validation. And so Bill, and I’m actually sitting here in office in DC Phil and I interviewed, I believe, and we sat down a lot of parents groups and teachers and kids and young adults in this one group with a bunch of high school students Bill asked these, these folks. So who do you feel closest to in the world? And sometimes there’s my mom or my dad, but sometimes my grandma or my teacher, my older sister, whatever, whatever. And as follow up question was, what is it about them that makes you feel close to them? The answers were two varieties. One was, they listened to me without judging me. And two, they don’t tell me what to do all the time. And this is hard, because parents easily easily easily fall into what is known as the righting reflex, which means that if your kid brings a problem to you naturally start saying, Well, what if we tried this or tried to do to have to teach you how did you study? You know, we can get your tutor? What did other people do? And we started looking for solutions. But if you’re on the receiving end of that, it sounds like well, that if you had done that, you wouldn’t be struggling. If you if you hadn’t done this, you wouldn’t be struggling as though all these things that are suggestions to me feel like criticism and things I should have done and shouldn’t have or vice versa. Or when it gets really upset about we start trying to talk about Oh, come on. It’s one quiz. Let it go, man, you know, it’s not you know, where you were to college? Isn’t that isn’t the biggest deal in the world. And that is probably true. Actually. It is true. But it feels it feels really invalidating to the person is though, that you shouldn’t be feeling the things that you’re feeling.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:21

So safeness. Right, right, right. Don’t dismiss it, right.


Ned Johnson  11:25

There’s something called a motivational interviewing, which was created by a couple of psychologists in the 80s, who worked with problem drinkers. And classically would happen if I were you know, if I were an alcoholic use as my friend or my coaches net net, you got a knock it off menu, you’re ruining your health, your weights can leave, you’re gonna lose your job did it is though, if you gave me one more reason, one more terrible thing would happen if I keep on this path. What happens was I get defensive, I fight you, I find the person who’s trying to help me. So the the insights of motivational interviewing are one, that we all have this righting reflex, particularly with our kids, because we don’t want them to be stuck suffering. The second thing though, is that people are ambivalent about change. So again, go back to that kid who’s you know, he knows if he gets better grades, his parents will be more relaxed, his friends won’t think he’s such a dope as teachers will get off his back, blah, blah, blah, but he doesn’t like the teacher. It’s stuff that’s boring and makes them feel stupid, he could work really hard. And then he knew the limit of disability. And he stuck. Because kids want to be successful. They want their lives to work out, but they can feel stuck. So what we do with this is we have empathy and validation. So if your kid comes home and is bonded to this site, I started like crazy and I got a terrible that’s it. Mr. T put things on there. Do you think we’re gonna be honest, is a parent trust? And like, this is not the movie that I saw? Because study? I’ll do, buddy. I mean, you watch football for seven hours straight? And then 50? I mean, or whatever? Right or curveball questions? No offense, Mr. Johnson, is the most straightforward dopamine teacher the world’s ever seen. There’s no way. And that might be true. Or we’ll get you today, we’ll get you. I’ll help you study next time. And what instead you do is say something like, look really upset. You simply empathize. You see the feelings. And the validation can be something I want people to listen to this closely. The validation could be something like, I’d be really upset too. If I felt like I’d studied really hard for a test. And it didn’t go well. Note that I didn’t agree with the facts. I didn’t


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:26

study, right. Yeah,


Ned Johnson  13:28

didn’t I just say I feel upset too. Or it makes sense to me. I imagine your friends would both be upset if if you felt like there were questions around the test that the teacher didn’t prepare you for and then just met so mad, I really wanted to do well, right. And logic does not come hard emotions. And we’ve all if you have a spouse or a partner, chances are you’ve come home and just vented and your partner starts saying well blah, blah, blah, and you’ll look at him or her like, I’m gonna kill you. Can you just why you’re taking my boss aside? Where are you are you and our kids, it’s the same experience. So we use empathy and validation because the experience of feeling like someone understands you, they get where you’re coming from. And I don’t even have to agree with that. They just it calms hard emotions. And what that does, is it calms down that the freeze fight or flight response brings the prefrontal cortex back in line and all those executive functions and problem solving decision making but also importantly, one of the core executive functions is cognitive and emotional flexibility. Meaning that when you when you listen to me Listen, and I feel like again, me It calms me down and allows me to actually shift my own thinking, well, maybe I could have been a kids are more likely to then admit that yeah, maybe I did do things a little bit last minute or gosh, I probably should have done those review questions that the teacher gave me, and is much more likely to be honest, not only with you, as a parent, but with themselves about what they did or didn’t do,


Lisa Marker Robbins  15:01

do you feel like and I, I often say to parents, our tendency is often to like, make statements, you know, I didn’t see you study or statements or directives, and that, again, is taking control. I usually say, like, try to, can you reword it into a question, right?


Ned Johnson  15:20

Yep. Or I wonder if things are really tentative. Or if you’re going to offer advice, you know, I kind of find that kind of run it by you or, you know, for what it’s worth it might be worth and and things that don’t set up black and white, right, because if you’re on one side of the problem, you think this thing, this is how it should be solved near kids. On the other end, you enter your point, you start making directive and telling them how it is right? To the degree that that feels forced on them. And they feel like they have a low sense of control, and they get stressed about it, they’re gonna have a really hard time hearing what might be in their own best interest. And then, of course, that wonderful advice that you have a parent has have given. It’s now tainted, I can’t pick that up, because comes with a big heaping dose of I told you so. And that’s just oh, God, no self respecting team wants that. So when you make it really tentative, I got to kind of run it by you. You know, parents, by the way, say, Well, what if they say no? Well, then of course, you shove it down their throat because there’s nothing else. You just, you just you just step away? It’s okay. Well, if you change your mind, let me know, you know, I mean, obviously, you’re the expert in you. But if I got some my thoughts, and if you want to consider them great. We just want to make a tentative, we go back to your point before about the freeze flight or fight response. Some of the typical manifestations of anxiety are not ones that non clinicians know. The first is that the freeze part looks like confusion, the rational problem solving prefrontal cortex part of the brain has gone offline. And you see their eyes get wide. And they look confused. Because they’re the prefrontal cortex is flooded with dopamine and norepinephrine, and they just can’t think straight by design they’re not supposed to. There are also children more often boys and girls who skip the free skip the flight, and they go right to the fight. This is stupid. Why do you want to do this, whatever, whatever. And you feel like they’re yelling at you? Well, a lot of kids particularly I had a kid who tantrums easily. As a kid, you can think back it was my kid, one of those. It’s not a parent, a lot of folks, the kids who are like that they’re not misbehaving. They simply have more sensitive stress responses. And that’s really what a temper problem is, or temper tantrums is just, you skip,


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:31

like, you know, hit pause and go, because I’ve got three kids, two bonus kids. They’re all adults, young adults now but like to just reflect on, what was this like when they were 2345? Yeah. And yeah, if you raised one that was instantly into a temper tantrum. Because I think when we reflect back on that, and if you can even picture that little face that you had as a three or four year old, as a mom, my heart goes like, ah, yeah, they’re just wired that way. And I’m not helping the situation and the empathy, going back to your empathize and validate without getting it and saying, Yeah, you’re right. But to empathize might be easier if we can look back and just picture that little face


Ned Johnson  18:21

above it. Back. Yep. And because what we’re really talking about when you can move into that that energy that’s really described in there is where then helping us as Tina Payne Bryson would talks about, it’s just we’re helping kids co regulate, and obviously, it’s a much bigger deal when they’re two than when they’re 20. But still, when you’re upset, it’s not intuitive, that when those helpful things we can do is just sort of take out some of those hard feelings. I had a really terrible word thing about 18 months ago, and this colleague of mine, Katie, who’s just the best, and I just was like, ah, and her first reaction was like, oh, Ned, sacks. And then zactly what I want here, I didn’t want here, this is gonna get better, or you know, it’s probably more, I just want to your content sucks. Because in every possible way, it sucked. And all I wanted was three minutes of walling and how much this sucks. And then I’m pretty good at let’s pivot and figure out the darn solution. But if she had first started making suggestions, without hearing how hard this was, for me, give them would have been better for either of us, you know?


Lisa Marker Robbins  19:28

Yeah, start with empathy. I mean, it’s a fantastic Well, I think too. I think of my own kids and the students that I work with, sometimes they just want to vent for a little bit, and they might even want you to help problem solve it later. But asking permission, what are you wanting? Are you wanting to vent like empathize and then say, do you just want me to listen in support right now or do you do you want to think about it together?


Ned Johnson  19:52

There’s what’s called reflective listening. This is the foundational tool of psychology and simply repeating back to people as best You can, what do you think you’ve heard in our book, we talk about a guy named Ron McGann who’s his parenting communication expert. And we gain stands for what I got is. And it’s great because it’s a way to help the other person feel that you’ve heard them. Also, as a parent, some people find it really easy to be empathetic the way that you are, Lisa, but but for the people that are just wired a little bit differently, I’m not I can’t fall


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:21

parents. Well, I mean, I fail at it all the time. But we all do,


Ned Johnson  20:25

right. They all do. They just find it hard, right? They’re more factual than feeling. Okay. Okay. And so this tool is great. And what you just do is repeat back. So what I’m hearing is that you feel like you studied really hard for that test and totally bombed. And now you think you’re going to fail third grade in your college is that too? I happen about right. And it first kids may be like, Why are you repeating back to me say, I just want to be sure that I understand. Want to make sure I got that right before it’s to give you any advice. I just want to be clear that I that I got this right, and then they’ll use it. Oh, okay. But what it also does, if we have intense reactions to our kids intensity, because emotions are contagious. It buys us time. To think a little bit clearer. They ticket a verbal equivalent of counting to 10. So I love that wigging tool. The other thing that’s interesting, actually, this is so fun. I wear her this from somebody who was in it was an either an FBI or CIA interrogator. Who was suggesting this for business consultant, you can use this. So what you’re telling me Lisa, is, though, you’d have three weeks to work on this project, and the deadline is tomorrow, there’s absolutely no way you can possibly get this done. You need at least 10 more days to get it done. Is that right? And almost always people say, Okay, well, actually, I could and they’ll start jumping into right. And this guy who is the interrogator would repeat things back. And what would happen is people wouldn’t stick with their story, they changed their story. And they’d eventually rather than cross examining them, he just kept


Lisa Marker Robbins  21:52

on writing. Yeah, I love it. Well, we would be remiss if I didn’t give you an opportunity to talk about that chapter in your new book about talking with kids about the pursuit of happiness, because oh, you know, we’re talking about all these things that are so anxiety ridden. And sometimes I think our kids think like, they like nagging me or they’re trying to make this hard on me. We all know, that’s not the heart of a parent. That’s not what we’re doing. Because what we really want is happiness for our kids. I did a workshop this week, and I asked parents of questions about how would it feel if you knew your kids were on the right path that they’ve identified, and they’re on the right path. And the word relieved? And Happy are the two words that came up over and over and over again. So give us a little tease about that chapter. Yeah.


Ned Johnson  22:43

So the genesis of the story of this chapter was build my writing partner is a clinical neuropsychologist. So he knows everything about brains. And he was given a lecture in Dallas, I think, and talking to a bunch of 10th grade student, government leader folks. And he asked me said, How many of you want to be happy as adults? You raise the hands like well done. Great. He said, Well, what do you understand from adults? Well, what’s necessary to have a happy life to be happy as adults? And they all said versions are? Well, if we get into a good enough College, then everything else will fall into place. First, like, If only that were true, not only would I be like, wildly overpaid, as a test prep provider, but I’d be the source of all happiness in the world. Are you kidding? We thought, well, interesting. So we started just looking at what do we know about happiness? And the two things I want to talk about one permit, and the other one, I’ll talk about some of the neurotransmitters that are involved in this. There’s a guy named Martin Seligman, who founded what’s really the study of positive psychology because the first 100 years of psychology are all the disorders and how do we basically decrease suffering? And he said, Why don’t we look at people who are really living rich, happy, fulfilled lives and what’s going on? So he has that acronym of perma, and P is positive emotions. And some people are born glass half full glass half empty, but sleep and gratitude and meditation practices and all kinds of things actually change the wiring in our brain. Here’s a wonderful book Seligman does about learned optimism and how you can coach kids into this what you pay attention on and on and on. Is engagement, right? Or the flow experience. That’s rarely schoolwork, it’s usually what we describe in our book as again, every Larssen passionate pursuit of pastimes. So when you see four year olds playing Lego, right, and she doesn’t want to tie for dinner for five more minutes, right? And she’s just so engaged in that, right. And we want kids to have things that the deeply engage RS relationships, M is meaning things that give purpose and a is achievement. And achievement is part of happiness, but it’s only part of it. And it’s just like, you can’t you can go and buy stuff and it makes you happy short term, but it doesn’t feel fill and need for relationships, right? Your things are not your friends. And so the challenge is increasing the last 15 years and I’m sure social media has come where we are so status driven so like driven so materialistic, so how hot Am I online, on and on and on and on, all of which gets lumped into the category of materialism and achievement? And where do you go to college and of course, you want to go to Princeton, you can rock over orange for four years. Fantastic. And you get a new car, nice house. And these things can be happiness. But the problem is, people can when all of those things, but if they’re deficient in the first four, and then they’re not happy, they wonder, but I’ve accomplished everything. I’ve achieved everything. Why am I not happy? And so our perspective on this is you just start you talk about these things. You model these, that the youngest possibly I had this work I was supposed to do. But you know, but Lisa sent me a text saying, Can you join me for a cup of coffee? I think, Gosh, darn it, you know, we sat there for two hours. And it was just, it was the best i i forgotten how much fun I just have, how great it is, just to talk with her because she’s just so great. And you want kids to see this and to hear this. But for me, what I picture about is being 82 and still going for a walk with my wife and holding hands slower. I’m sure we have to model these things. Because otherwise, we do kids such a disservice. I don’t know about you. They submit every time I hear about some incredibly, incredibly top of their field person who takes their own life. And you think, yeah, and so the one for me was Alan Krueger. So Stacy Bergdahl and Alan Krueger did all this work about where you go to college doesn’t make that big of a deal in terms of even just in terms of lifetime earnings, but certainly happiness. And Professor Krueger, professor of economics at Princeton University, I mean, top of his field cited gazillion times, right? And he took his own life, and it was just the biggest gut punch to me. And I sent it over a bill and he immediately email back he said, and I guess depression doesn’t give up about achievement. And that’s exactly right. Yeah. And the second thing they on this permit, and it’s wonderful research we have, we’ve got a whole chapter about how to model this and how to talk about this and how to ask questions. But the second thing is that people often conflate happiness and pleasure. And so when we think about going to have coffee release, and all the things, you know, that are pleasures, right, so the cup of coffee is great, but pleasure is rooted in dopamine. So winning a video games scoring a goal getting the top eight being the valedictorian of your class, you know, sex, cocaine, these things, they’re released in the anticipation of a reward, we’re back to that achievement thing. And we will who this is so great, but by definition, it’s transitory. It’s fleeting and short lived, it doesn’t last, where happiness is rooted in a much more sort of hard to pin down just sensation, things you just write in the world. And it’s serotonin. And so the easiest way you can think about this of new love of dopamine, right? It’s all that excitement of new love and, frankly, lust, where serotonin is again, picturing that 82 year old couple walking down, and we have this from time to time we’re out walking, we’re walking the dog, and you got the smile on your face. It’s like, what are you so happy about? You’re like, that’s life. Yeah, just life. Just like great, great. No, no, and we have to get them. The interesting thing is the dopamine is released in the anticipation word, and we experience it correlated with also with excitement. You’re about to score a goal we’re serotonin get is that sense of contentment. And I’ll tell you, there’s a professor named Josh aaronson at NYU, whom I adore. And he was teaching a mindfulness practice meditation to kids at a kind of Upward Bound. So under resourced kids college, set it up. He’s his brilliant guy, and just the warmest person, the world, so taught meditation to this group of kids, and maybe 10 days into this, his boy comes to music, Professor Aronson. See, can I tell you something? And he said, sure. He said, I just need to tell you about my life. So I live in this really hard neighborhood with, you know, it’s hard, right? It’s scary, and it’s doesn’t feel safe all the time. When I come home from school, I’m looking like, who’s up to no good, I don’t want to be there and I’m looking to compensate this guy, is he gonna mistake me for some other black kid, you know, and I get in trouble, I get shot, right? Am I going to do well, and I’m going to get out of this really tough neighborhood and my friend is going to get out here and be okay. And that’s my thinking all the time. And partly, that’s what you’re on when you’re constantly stressed. You’re constantly surveying for threat. And he learned meditation, this goes back to kind of that P that pause motion part. And they said, I could feel how much more common made me feel. And I’m walking down the street. And I looked up instead of everywhere else, and I see the sun coming down through the trees. And I thought, cut is that pretty? He said, It was the first time in my entire life that I looked up and it’s not possible neurologically chemically physically, it is not possible to be happy when you’re stressed. Ah, that is so old


Lisa Marker Robbins  30:07

stuff for us as parents, as we’re like wrapping it up, because we need to remember that it is not possible to be happy when you’re filled with stress and anxiety, and you’re stuck in flight, and fight and freeze.


Ned Johnson  30:24

And so one of the things especially when kids are suffering, and struggling, we feel that too. Of course we do. These are children, we want everything good for them. And things that are harder, so hard. And we have this tendency to extrapolate and think my kid who’s really struggling now is going to struggle forever. And the reality is, rarely, rarely. Rarely is that true. And Bill and I have worked with 1000s of kids and Bill with kids who have attention issues, and motivational and learning issues and emotion, everything, everything. And almost never do kids get stuck. And the more that we can hold to the belief that this is hard. And this is part of your path for now, the more we can be what we described in the book as a non anxious presence, then we become a stress sponge, and make it easier for kids to also believe that yes, we validate this sucks. And this is just part of your path. This is not who you are. This is where temporary for now.


Lisa Marker Robbins  31:25

It’s not you. It’s where you are right now.


Ned Johnson  31:27

Right? You know, some people have this easier than hers. I mean, I was a kid, I had a hard upbringing, I’m four and an ACE score. People know about that my dad was an alcoholic, he drank himself to death. My mother was mentally ill I spent three months in seventh grade in a pediatric hospital. I mean, just it couldn’t have been better, right? And so it’s a lot easier for me to look at kids or parents straight in the face and say I’m confident and confident this is going to work out somehow we just got to figure out how I never say I know. I can’t know that right. But I had both my kids had major health issues last year, including my son had a brain tumor, a brain tumor. Awesome, that just wonderful. Thanks for your focus. But I work every day, every day, I’m working to be a non anxious presence. Because it’s so much easier for my kids to have confidence that things will get better and they’re working towards lives that they want to live. When I can be confident about that to no matter how friggin messy things are, right now like


Lisa Marker Robbins  32:27

a brain tumor. Well, I’m you’ve got pure gold in these books that we’re going to link to in the show notes. I’ve got them both right there. I’ve read them both on my bookshelf, which is why I had to have you on because you help us understand why. And you give us the resources to be that calming presence, because we all just want to get our kids on a path to happiness and navigate and stuff. And thanks, Dad for taking welcome.


Ned Johnson  32:55

Thanks for having me, you know and life can be hard, but it can also always get better.


Lisa Marker Robbins  33:01

Amen. Hi, no, I know that was a lot longer than our typical episodes, but it was pure gold. I’ve literally walked away from the interview, instantly applying it to my interactions with my own kids. My college bound Challenge for this week isn’t something to do with your teen, but instead something to practice yourself. The next time they are upset, angry, disappointed or venting instead of offering a solution or downplaying their feelings lead with empathy and validation. And remember, validation is not agreement. I’m sure you’ll be interested in both of Ned and Dr. Six rugs books, which I’ll link to in the show notes, so go there too. If today’s episode was helpful to you, please share it with a friend who needs this to sharing following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful future. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed and confused to motivated clear and confident about your team’s future.