Katherine Reynolds Lewis on The Good News About Bad Behavior
In week’s podcast episode, we’re talking about bad behavior. Specifically, The Good News About Bad Behavior. That’s the name of a new book by journalist, author, speaker, and parent educator, Katherine Lewis, and in this episode, Katherine and I talk about what our kids’ behavior is telling us and how we as parents, teachers, and other adults in kids’ lives can best respond to it while encouraging our kids to develop into healthy adults.
In researching and writing her book, Katherine connected with one of our favorite parenting thought leaders, Dr. Ross Greene, and reframed her own thinking about bad behavior as being a child’s way of demonstrating lagging skills. Katherine’s book aims to help parents navigate tricky behavioral situations and work with their children toward better solutions. I really enjoyed this conversation and hope it offers you some good food for thought.
About Katherine Reynolds Lewis
Katherine Reynolds Lewis is an award-winning journalist and author of The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever – And What to Do About It. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Fortune, Money, Mother Jones, The New York Times, Parade, Slate, USA Today’s magazine group, the Washington Post Magazine and Working Mother. She’s an EWA Education Reporting Fellow and Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good. Residencies include the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale and Moulin a Nef. Previously, Katherine was a national correspondent for Newhouse and Bloomberg News, covering everything from financial and media policy to Al Gore’s presidential campaign. She holds a BA in physics from Harvard University and is a certified parent educator with the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) in Kensington, Md. She and her husband Brian are the proud parents of three children, 25, 14 and 11 years old.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- How parents can shift their mindset in the way they think about behavior
- Why our kids’ need to experience failure, and why modeling it for them can be so powerful
- How to let go of what others think of our approach to parenting and discipline
- Ways parents can compassionate advocate for and educate others about our children
- What Katherine hopes her book does in the world in terms of changing the conversation surrounding behavior
- What the good news about bad behavior actually is
Resources on the good news about bad behavior
- The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever, and What to Do About It by Katherine R. Lewis
- The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Dr. Ross Greene
- Lives in the Balance (Dr. Greene’s website)
- Lost at School: Why Our Kids With Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Dr. Ross Greene
- Dr. Ross Greene Talks About How Collaborative and Proactive Solutions Benefits Atypical Kids (podcast)
- Duct Tape Parenting: A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids by Vicki Hoefle
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 00:00
I would love for adults to stop seeing kids who are acting out as bad kids or being difficult or somehow a problem. And instead look at it as an opportunity to strengthen that child’s skills, whatever this skill at hand may be. And really, it’s good when kids misbehave because then it shows us how to help them. It’s this red flag or signal to us that Oh, attention is needed here.
Debbie Reber 00:32
Welcome to the Tilt Parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring and forming and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and today is an episode about bad behavior. Specifically, The Good News About Bad Behavior. That’s the name of a new book by journalist, author, speaker and parent educator Katherine Lewis. And in this episode, Katherine and I talk about what our kids’ behavior is telling us and how we as parents and teachers and other adults in kids’ lives can best respond to it, while encouraging our kids to develop into healthy adults. In researching and writing her book, Katherine connected with one of our favorite parenting thought leaders, Dr. Ross Greene, and reframed her own thinking about bad behavior as being a child’s way of demonstrating lagging skills. Her book aims to help parents navigate the tricky behavioral situations we face and to work with their children toward better solutions. I really enjoyed this conversation, and I hope it offers you some good food for thought. I also wanted to let you know that Katherine is currently on a book tour for the good news about bad behavior, and she still has a few stops left as of the time this episode’s airing on June 5. So if you live in Seattle or San Francisco, you have a chance to see her. You can get Katherine’s tour info on her website at katherinerlewis.com or find it on the show notes page for this episode.
Debbie Reber 02:03
And since we’re talking about a book tour this week, I am doing my first of eight events I’m having in the US starting with Baltimore on Thursday, June 7, and then moving on to Seattle, Portland, San Jose, Chicago, Washington, DC Maplewood, New Jersey and New York City. I’m calling this the differently wired tilt your world book tour. And I would love for you to join me in conversation about how we can change the future for differently wired kids. For all of the dates of the tour, stop info and to register for one of the events just go to tilt parenting calm slash tour. Lastly, I can’t believe I’m actually saying these words but Differently Wired comes out in exactly one week. I’m so excited for this book to be out in the world. And that also means you have one week left to get those exclusive extras I created for people who pre-order the book before June 12. I’m talking about the 30 downloadable PDFs of check sheets, templates, sample contracts, and daily tools, the cheat sheet for what to say in difficult situations with other people, the differently wired digital resource guide so you can access every single resource articles and books and podcast episodes and experts mentioned in the book with just one click and access to a live virtual four week book club about the book. All of those bonuses will be available only to people who pre order before the book comes out next Tuesday, June 12. To get them you can visit tiltparenting.com/book and learn exactly what you need to do to access those extras. Thank you so much. And now here is my conversation with Katherine.
Debbie Reber 03:51
Hey, Katherine, welcome to the podcast.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 03:53
Thank you so much for having me on.
Debbie Reber 03:56
Well, I’m so happy that I discovered you and your awesome new book via the interwebs. And just so happy that we’re able to bring you on the show because I think your book and the message you’re sharing though it is really going to be an interesting one for our audience. So before we get into that I always start these conversations by asking people to just tell me a little bit about yourself, you know, your background and who you are as a writer and a parent.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 04:23
Absolutely. So I’m a journalist. I started off in business journalism, Gosh, 20 years ago, and really was very much focused on that until I had children. And then suddenly all these questions of parenting and education and instilling character and executive function started to be much more interesting to me. And around, I guess 2008 when the recession really hit and newspapers were having trouble I lost my job along with the other two people in my bureau here in the Washington, DC area, so then I went freelance and really was able to write about whatever I wanted, that I could get someone to pay me for. So then I started delving much more into education and parenting, and trying to understand psychology and what was going on in my kids brains. And through that, I just sort of shifted my writing practice more and more to be writing about parenting subjects and child development. And then in 2015, I wrote an article for Mother Jones magazine about school discipline that went viral. And that was really such a wonderful launching pad to write much more about child development and delve into the neuroscience of how our brains get wired the way they are, and eventually writing this book, the good news about bad behavior, which came out in April 2018.
Debbie Reber 05:54
I love hearing stories like that, because I think it’s just so cool when work life and parenting life join together. So what a great thing to be able to focus your professional energy and time and doing all this research, which you can then totally use in your own life.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 06:15
Right? It’s the definition of news you can use when I’m writing about discipline and that at 3:30 my kids tumble in the door and do something I don’t like. That’s my new knowledge.
Debbie Reber 06:28
Yes, that is a hazard of this business. We know I’m in the same situation with you know, getting to speak with so many parenting experts. And then I get many opportunities to see where I’m screwing up and to practice the things that I’m learning. So I want to talk about your book. So that’s going to be the focus of our conversation. Can you tell us, you gave us kind of an overview of how you got into this, but in specifically talking about behavior. Tell us a little bit more about the impetus behind the good news about bad behavior. And then beyond that, what you are hoping like it does in the world if you have a big goal for how you hope it changes conversations or impacts parents.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 07:09
What a wonderful question. And I guess it is a long story because I started puzzling over this question of why won’t my kids do what I want, really when my youngest was three, and she’s now 11. So in one way or another, I’ve been kind of pulling at that thread for eight years, and really got interested in it, because my kids are just so different from I am, you know, the way I am. They are rambunctious, high energy and creative. And I was the typical good girl who did what I was told, and I love to sit and read an art for hours. And they love to read also. But they also have so many other interests and ideas about how they should behave in a family. And so I started trying to understand how we could all work together. And over the course of those eight years, I really came to understand their behavior not as bad behavior or trying to be difficult, but as needing skills to manage the transition or to handle their impulses or simply to learn to be civilized and sit at the table during dinner. Over the course of those eight years, I was also volunteering in their school, I was a Girl Scout leader, I coached Odyssey of the Mind, which is a creative problem solving team. And in all these settings, I saw other kids who just seemed so different from the kids that I grew up with in how they responded to discipline and how they interacted with adults and each other. And so that got me curious about whether it was a broader issue and change and how kids are developing today that maybe would be something important for everyone to know about. And then as a journalist, I started speaking to experts, I started interviewing psychologists and I met a man named Ross Greene, who’s a psychologist in New England. And at the time I spoke with him writing a typical parenting feature story. He was about to move his family from Boston to Maine. He was uprooting his teen kids and his wife and leaving his practice at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. And that impressed me so I started learning more about his model of discipline, which started with children in locked psychiatric wards who really had intense challenges that made them a threat to themselves or others. And his model, which is very collaborative and cooperative, was remarkably successful. So he managed to reduce holds in those settings from 20 a month to zero. So from kids needing to be restrained. physically or medically, so often suddenly, they were just cooperating with the adults. And he moved his model into juvenile justice settings and had very similar success. And then in schools where principals were telling me that their discipline problems had been reduced 70-80%, that teachers were able to do more instruction, the kids are getting along better. And that’s what led to the Mother Jones story. And really this whole book, and in terms of what I hope the book will do in the world, I looked at his model, and three other discipline models that are based on research and, and science for what kids need and how kids’ brains develop. And from those, I pulled three common threads that I think they all share, which are a very strong adult child connection, communication, about what’s going on, the problem at hand. And then a focus on capability building, so that children are seen as needing skills, as I said earlier, and not bad that kids need to build their ability, their social emotional skills, and their ability to manage their own behavior, thoughts, and emotion. And so all of these models share that. And there’s so many examples in the book of how to implement those three steps, connection, communication, and capability building. And as for what I hope it’ll do in the world, I would love for adults to stop seeing kids who are acting out as bad kids or being difficult or somehow a problem. And instead look at it as an opportunity to strengthen that child’s skills, whatever this skill at hand may be. And really, it’s good when kids misbehave, because then it shows us how to help them. It’s this red flag or signal to us that Oh, attention is needed here. And this is how kids develop ; they go through stages when they are struggling with some new challenge. And they need support, often to figure it out. And, and that’s our role. It’s not that we’re going to always have perfectly behaved children, it’s to always be constantly supporting them and helping them tackle these challenges. One of the most startling findings in my book was the figure that one in two children, by the time they’re 18, will have some kind of mood or behavioral disorder, or a substance addiction. And to me that was just stunning that every other kid in my child’s preschool class, by the time they graduate from high school will have something pretty serious that they are managing. And I hope that it’s actually a hopeful and optimistic statistic, because it sort of normalizes when your child is going through something, whether it’s ADHD, or anxiety, or some kind of brain difference, that you’re dealing with one challenge, your neighbors probably dealing with something else. And we all are in it together.
Debbie Reber 12:59
So much of what you just shared just totally resonates with me. And I’m sure with listeners, so I want to go back. First of all, I love that Dr. Greene’s work was such a part of your book. I know we have emailed back and forth a little bit about this, but he is certainly you know, I’ve had him on the podcast, he is someone most of our listeners are very familiar with his book, The Explosive Child, for me was just changed our family’s life and the whole model of reframing, lagging skills. And you know, it’s just such a shift that once you make it, it’s kind of like getting new glasses, you know, everything changes in your life. So I love that that was underlying your book. And then you talked about stop seeing kids as acting out and looking at things that are happening as opportunities, and maybe talk a little bit more about that that’s something that I’ve worked just personally a lot on is trying to look at any time, you know, in the past when we’ve had some big intense reactions, or just things just totally caught me off guard. And suddenly we’re in this situation where things are not going well to try to think okay, what is the learning moment here? Like, how can I flip this on its head and turn it into an opportunity? So can you talk a little bit more about how parents can make that shift in their mindset in terms of how to approach bad behavior?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 14:30
Absolutely. I and I also want to start by saying obviously, this is very hard for parents to like, it’s not it’s not so easy to to go through a day with a child who’s highly emotional or has difficulty with transition or who isn’t cooperating in the way that you need. And I just want to acknowledge that, you know, these are really big challenges and one of my goals of the book is to offer some kind of community and support to Parents who feel like this, this is much harder than I thought, you know, and it is, it’s harder now than than it was in the past that tools from the past don’t work anymore. So I’m hoping that this new framework, these new eyeglasses, as you say, will help people to, you know, have a little more courage to deal with the challenges. And I guess the way that I would I, the way that I see it is that our children just aren’t learning the normal developmental stages that they need, the way that they used to. So kids used to learn social emotional skills through play through managing their own time through all the things that have sort of disappeared from our modern society. And it’s entirely possible that there’s something else going on some other environmental factor that’s contributing to the rise in anxiety and depression, ADHD, behavioral issues and developmental challenges that kids are facing. But we’re sort of here in the trenches, and we have to get through our day. So the more that we look at a kid acting up as showing us that there’s something needed. It just puts us in the mindset of problem solving and being capable, instead of feeling like, oh, no, now my day is ruined. And the plans that I had for you know, getting through these activities, or managing our household routine are disrupted. So for me, it’s been very helpful just to try to attack those kinds of situations with enthusiasm instead of despair. And, and I think that’s often what we go to when our kid is acting up is we think, Oh, I did something wrong, or I didn’t prepare for this moment, or I should have known this was going to happen. And so we have that sense of failure that we’ve somehow caused it or that we were to blame for not preventing it. And those are just not helpful emotions, they’re not going to make us stronger in the moment at dealing with our child, it’s not going to give us that resilience or sense of confidence that we need to lead our children through a difficult moment. And that’s one of the things that I’ve found, at least that is much more helpful.
Debbie Reber 17:10
So, I think that too, you know, this sense of failure and shoulding on ourselves, as I say, like, it is pretty new. I mean, it’s a generational thing. I know that my parents, certainly, you know, I was a kid growing up in the 70s. And the 80s, they were not sitting around discussing how they could do this, this and this or protecting, you know, emotionally from this, or it was kind of like, No, I’m your parent, you have to learn these things, it was more hands off. And I think there is something to be said for the way that we feel we need to be everything for our child now. And there is a strong urge to protect them from failing to. And really, it’s so much more helpful if we can model failure in a great way, like we’re all learning here.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 17:57
Right? Absolutely. And, you know, for parents who have very young children, you’re sort of in the perfect position to be more hands off in those early years and let kids experience some bumps and bruises and make choices they regret. Because then they’ll be much better positioned to handle difficulty in you know, early childhood and teen years. And, you know, one of the challenges I think parents do face now is, because that’s no longer our model, we do have to be more hands on at times in supporting our kids. And it’s hard, there’s a little bit of tension there, we want to let our kids fail. But we also have to be that coach or mentor, helping them process the failure sometimes and plan for what they might do differently. So it’s a middle ground of where we no longer can just be at the hands off parents. Like when I was growing up, I walked myself home from school in upper elementary, I made myself a snack, I managed my homework, I really was making so many decisions. And because I was doing that from very young, I was able to and our kids now if they haven’t had that experience, they may need to build up to it a bit. And we can be that sort of sounding board and safe place to help them process their mistakes and, and plan for the future. And especially for kids who have any kind of, you know, neurodiverse challenge that they’re managing, it can take a lot longer for that learning to happen, then we maybe think it should. So we have to be raised with all of our patients and all of our Zen, you know, to to just say okay, I guess it’s gonna take another time to learn not to leave the notebook at school or that if you start a fight, you’re gonna get in trouble or, you know, all these things that our kids get into.
Debbie Reber 19:46
Absolutely. So what about this idea of letting go of control? So you talked about the pressure that we put on ourselves to do all these things right for how we feel as parents but there’s an Also that piece, especially when it comes to our kids behavior, which is often external and in public situations or environments where it’s going to be noticed by other people. So can you talk a little bit about that piece of letting go of what other people are thinking of our parenting and our discipline?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 20:19
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. It’s so hard. I think the silent judgment of other parents has been responsible for more bad parenting choices than possibly anything, because it’s, it’s so you know, visceral, you can sort of feel when your kids are acting up, or even, you know, my daughter in third grade refuses to brush her hair. So every day, she went to school with a tangle full of hair pulled back in a ponytail, and it just was so hard for me to let go and say, This is not a fight I’m getting into with my child, my relationship is more important. It’s her body. And, and so but once we start practicing, letting go of those feelings that other people are judging us, the easier it gets. And when we take into the big perspective, keep that at the forefront of our mind, we’re, we’re not worried about that one day and third grade or the, you know, moment in the grocery store at age four, we’re we’re really supposed to be focused on age 25, or 35, when our kids are capable and independent, and they will never get to be independent if we don’t start letting them practice now. So for them to learn self control, we have to start giving up control. And it’s a process through our child’s life and development that we begin with them as tiny babies, and we’re in charge of everything. And from that moment, we need to think of our goal as constantly expanding the circle of things they’re responsible for. And shrinking is part of that role, until we completely work ourselves out of the job of being the parent because they can take over everything and launch successfully into the world. And, again, make choices that maybe we might disagree with, but they can learn from them and take ownership of those choices.
Debbie Reber 22:12
Yeah, and doing that, appropriately in terms of respecting the timeline that they’re on, which may be different from their same age peers. But I love that, you know, that’s something we talk a lot about is keeping your eye on the end goal, like taking a step back, looking at the big picture and what we ultimately want for our kids to be fulfilled autonomous individuals, you know, who know how to who can live the life that they want to lead,
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 22:40
I always say to my kids, I say your job is to figure out who you are, and how you know, you are going to be in the world, what fills you with passion, and what you’re going to contribute. And my job is to support you because I can’t make those decisions. I’m not going to know and or be able to tell what they should do. That’s going to be their passion. And one of the other people that I followed in my book, Vicki Hoefle, who wrote a book called Duct Tape Parenting, she said, You know, one of the scenes in my book that if your child is suddenly diagnosed with a fatal illness, you’re not going to care about that missed homework, or the broken coffee pot or whatever the thing in front of you that’s amping you up right now is. So that’s another way to keep it in perspective, is this? Is this really life or death? Or is this something that’s a learning opportunity?
Debbie Reber 23:29
Yeah. And that reminds me and I’ve been thinking about this, and looking at the work of Alfie Kohn, who wrote Unconditional Parenting. And for me that book, I don’t know, Asher, who’s now 13 was probably five or six when I looked at that for the first time, but the way he talked about just really questioning all these things that we’re correcting our children about, and and wondering why why is this something that needs to be corrected? Why is this something you are asking your child to do? Where do those ideas stem from? And I think that’s just really interesting. I think we come into parenting with these ideas about what equals good behavior without sometimes even questioning where those come from. I’m wondering what you found in working on this book about the root of our expectations about what behavior should and shouldn’t look like?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 24:28
That’s a great question. And yeah, it’s so interesting with Alfie Kohn, I read that book when Maddie was like three and I just thought, This is insane. This is ridiculous. And I sort of put inside and I’ve completely come full circle to really appreciate all of his work and his ideas. And I think it’s because I had to take that journey myself to start questioning and and now I say, we need to ration our nose, right? If you’re going to tell your child no, that could be evoke a power struggle. So make sure that you have a good reason for setting that limit or that boundary. And if you don’t say no or correct your child all the time, then when you do, they will pay more attention because they realize it’s more infrequent. You know, we, our kids get tuned out to our corrections if we’re like the parents in Peanuts going wa, wa, wa, wa, you know, if we’re always correcting them. And yeah, the root of the expectations is such a great question. I, I think that actually our society has changed dramatically, and we don’t even realize it. But 50 years ago, the boss was in charge of the factory, and then probably the dad was in charge of the mom, and the mom was in charge of the kids. And there was this chain of command, and authoritarian practices were just embedded throughout our society. And we really come to be a much more open, respectful, and egalitarian world in, you know, the developing world. And certainly in the US, where we’ve had a civil rights movement, we had a women’s rights movement, we’ve had LGBTQ rights movement, we’re having a neurodiversity movement. And so all of these different groups of people are saying we all deserve to be equal. So why wouldn’t children also expect to be equal and to have a voice and so all of those authoritarian ideas are still embedded in a lot of our adult brains? And it seems natural to go to, but it’s not the world we live in anymore. And perhaps our children understand that better than we do. And they’re demanding equality and a voice in our homes and in our schools that we just instinctively pull back from because of how things were when we were children.
Debbie Reber 26:50
Yeah, that’s such a great answer. It’s such an interesting thing to think about. I love thinking of this as its own movement, and it is, and it’s a really cool concept. Yeah, it’s a children’s rights movement. Yeah, absolutely. So I wanted to just talk about behavior in the context of differently wired kids, because for parents raising a typical kids, the behavior is kind of, you know, again, that external thing is the thing that we’re constantly having to problem solve around to negotiate support for in schools, and it’s what draws attention to our kids and creates a lot of the problems in the classroom for many of our kids. So do you have any thoughts on how we can best advocate for our children and compassionately educate, you know, educators and other people about shifting the way that they perceive our kids’ behavior?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 27:46
Yes, such a good question. And this really is the challenge, because even educators who say, Oh, I understand, you know, we have this, you know, education plan, and we have, you know, we know that your child has ADHD, or that they have some kind of processing issue, they may understand it intellectually and believe it, but then they also have these expectations underlying the surface that they may not be consciously aware of. So even though intellectually, they may say, Oh, I understand that this behavior is coming from some specific different wiring in that child’s brain, they respond to it instinctively. So it’s just almost the same process as the way that we are raising our children is helping to kind of constantly educate the people who are in charge of our kids during the day. So of course, that starts with connection, right? Having a strong relationship with your child’s classroom teachers, the counselor, the principal, and what whoever’s in the school who can be an advocate, and sort of having a steady conversation where you can inject, you know, oh, yeah, I know, it’s so hard with, you know, kids who have ADHD that these really seem to space out, or it takes them longer, it doesn’t take them longer to learn how to keep track of all those assignments, so that it can be a little bit of an undercurrent in that conversation all the time. And then when something comes up, it is not the first time you’ve had that conversation with that educator. And you’re, you’re sort of reminding them, yeah, remember, this kid has ADHD or has a processing issue. And we also have to be patient with them as well, because it’s not easy. I mean, I’ve observed so many classrooms for this book, and it’s a huge challenge to manage. Even typically, developing kids in a class now really aren’t so cooperative, so they have a lot on their plate and as much as we can be sort of an ally and offering suggestions and understanding when they make mistakes and misjudge our kids and try to work together with them. That may not always feel fair, that we have to do that. But it is often the only path that we have to try to take whatever ally ship we can get in the school building. And, and build on that. And one great thing that I’ve seen some parents do is, is start a book group with whoever in the in the building is sympathetic, that maybe read, you know, my book, of course, the good news about bad behavior or read the explosive child or lost at school or another book where you’re not coming in to educate them, but you’re relying on an expert or a book to say, Oh, these are some ideas that we should consider in how our kids are being handled in the in the school.
Debbie Reber 30:36
Yeah, that’s great advice. I mean, I think that we are in the best position, you know, parents with atypical kids too. And I, I’ve been using this phrase a lot compassionately, educate, because I think we need to see other people in this relationship with our child through the eyes of compassion, because I mean, as parents, we know what we’re dealing with. But these, these other teachers and camp counselors, and you know, other people who interact with our kids are doing the best they can and without the same kind of tools and resources that we necessarily have access to. So I really like that ally ship, you know, designing that alliance. All right, I just wanted to circle back to one question. You talked about one statistic that one into, I think you said teenagers or by the time they’re adults are experiencing mood or behavior disorders? And are there things that we can do as parents, as we’re raising our kids to help them avoid having mental and behavioral health problems down the road?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 31:37
What a great question. Yeah, so this is the National Institutes of Mental Health Study, and it was of all children. So kids up to age 18. With it was that statistic. I think that, you know, using this model that’s in my book of connection, communication and capability building is our best defense where we are steadily trying to build our children’s social and emotional skills and their executive function. And I sometimes joke, it’s like, I have to be my kid’s therapist and executive function coach, because you’re just sort of painstakingly every opportunity you get, trying to nudge them further along that path. And when we’re doing that, we are helping our kids to avoid challenges in the future. And one of the models in my book, The packs, Good Behavior Game, which is used in classes has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD and odd. And to actually sometimes bring kids into the typical range, who might have been on the borderline or have a, you know, have a diagnosis. So it can be very powerful. And the other really important finding in my book was how devastating criticism can be to children. So the research on parental criticism is really scary. And it goes back in the behavioral science, observational research is decades old, that people who have some kind of mental illness, or psychiatric condition are more susceptible to parental criticism, and that when they have recovered, and they’re in steady state, they can relapse much more easily when they’re exposed to a lot of parental criticism. So that’s another really strong argument that compassion, and encouragement is the tool that will help our kids. And the more we can try not to correct and criticize and point out all of their mistakes, the better position they’ll be for mental health. And this holds for depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, a bunch of other conditions, alcoholism and addiction, that the more that our loved ones are critical of us, the more we’re sort of weakened and more likely to relapse into those kinds of conditions.
Debbie Reber 33:52
That is fascinating. And I was just talking about this idea of positive reinforcement with someone earlier today — there’s an executive functioning coach named Seth Perler, who I’ve had on the show a couple of times, who is fantastic, by the way…
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 34:07
I listened to that podcast… I loved it.
Debbie Reber 34:10
He’s so great. And one of the things he said the first time I interviewed him was that our kids need five positive comments for every one negative piece of feedback. And when he said that, I was like, Oh my gosh, I am doing this wrong, you know, and I had to sit down with my husband and say, Hey, we really need to cut back on just the little littlest things, you know, don’t forget to put your napkin here Don’t you know, just all those things, those are all can be perceived as I’m screwing up, I’m doing it wrong. And so I’ve since that conversation made such an effort to notice, you know, just notice all the growth that’s happening and I recognize how Asher responds to those things. And, and I love that that’s such a piece of helping our kids, you know, become healthy. They’re adults who feel good about themselves. So that’s really fascinating.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 35:03
Yeah, they were like the Memory Keepers for our kids, they may not notice how they’re growing and changing. So we, the more we can point out the better. And our kids, you know, kids who are atypical, they know, they can, they know they’re making mistakes, they already feel bad about themselves, they can see, you know, compared to their peers how they’re different. So they don’t need us pointing out those mistakes to them.
Debbie Reber 35:26
Exactly. Tell me something I don’t already know. Yeah. So okay, so your book is called The Good News About Bad Behavior. And I would like you to tell us what the good news is about behavior.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 35:38
The good news is, that is a totally normal way that kids develop nowadays that these things that seem like bumps in the road, or problems are just the path to success. And so we should, as I said, view them as opportunities and not problems. And the other good news is that there’s so much research behind road tested methods of discipline, that are compassionate, and collaborative, that will help our kids to develop the skills that they need. So there’s so many amazing resources, and I’ve tried to kind of pull all of them into my book and highlight the four that I thought were the most comprehensive. So there’s so many different things to try. And if one doesn’t work, probably another one will. And even when we as adults mess up and criticize our kids or yell at them or blame them, that itself is an opportunity for us to model apologizing and making amends for a mistake. So it’s hard parenting any child, but especially differently wired kids, and we should be compassionate with ourselves as well, that if we mess up, and we don’t do what we had intended, we can then see that as a chance to show our children how we take responsibility for making a mistake. And, and how we can be, you know, apologetic and make amends. And they’re so forgiving. When we actually are sincere about that.
Debbie Reber 37:01
Absolutely. I get a lot of practice with that one. And it’s definitely paying off. So first of all, congratulations on the book. It really is fantastic. And it’s so well researched. And it’s a great resource for all parents, but there’s so much practical application for parents raising a typical kid. So can you tell us how listeners can find you? And I know that you’re on a book tour right now. So anything you want to share about that as well?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 37:29
Yes, I appreciate the question. And my website is katherinerlewis.com, and that has my book tour schedule, and it has articles that I’ve written or been interviewed in. I’m also on Facebook at Katherine R. Lewis, or that’s my Facebook page. And Twitter is @katherinerlewis. Instagram is Katherine Reynolds Lewis, which I’m just learning. So I welcome any tips on using Instagram. But I’m really always excited to connect with anybody who’s read the book, or who’s interested in these ideas. My contact information is all on the website as well.
Debbie Reber 38:04
Wonderful. And my tip for Instagram is just all selfies all the time. So listeners, I will make sure that all of the links for Katherine’s social media and website and her book tour will be on the show notes page. So you can just go there and click through and find that as well as her book, the good news about bad behavior. Katherine, thank you so much for coming by. I’m so happy to have had this conversation with you and I look forward to staying connected with all the awesome work you’re doing.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis 38:34
Well, thank you so much. I’m really glad that we were able to discover one another and look forward to hopefully meeting in person sometime soon.
Debbie Reber 38:43
You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to Katherine’s book, The Good News About Bad Behavior, her book tour steps and all the other resources we discussed. Visit tiltparenting.com/session111. If you like what we’re doing at the Tilt Parenting podcast and you’d like to support us, there are a few easy and meaningful ways you can do this. One is to join my patreon campaign. Patreon is an online platform that allows people to make a small monthly contribution to support the work of an artist or musician or in my case, a podcaster. It’s super easy to sign up and even a small donation helps. If you’d like to support the show, visit patreon.com/tiltparenting Or you can find a link at the Tilt Parenting website. The other way you can help is to head over to iTunes and leave a rating or review or both if you haven’t done so already. This really helps keep our podcast highly visible, which in turn makes it easier for me when I try to land those big guests. Thank you so much. And thanks again for listening. For more information on Tilt Parenting visit www.tiltparenting.com
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