I am thrilled to be sharing this conversation with Dr. William Stixrud and Ned Johnson, authors of the fantastic, game changing book, The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. And I wanted to give you a heads up that this is one of those episodes—the kind that is likely to spark you and challenge you and get you thinking about your relationship with your differently wired child in a whole new way. Because in this conversation, we explore Bill and Ned’s belief, based on decades of experience working with kids like ours, that the best thing we can do for our child is to give them more control and autonomy over their own lives, even, or perhaps especially when, their choices aren’t resulting in the kinds of immediate outcomes we would hope to see in our children.

As you’ll hear in our conversation, The Self-Driven Child is a book that fundamentally changed my relationship with Asher in a very positive, tangible way, not to mention has felt so much better for me a parent. I hope you get a lot of out of this episode.


About Bill: William R. Stixrud, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychologist and founder of The Stixrud Group, a lifespan neuropsychology practice. He is also a member of the Adjunct Faculty of the Children’s National Medical Center, and he holds a faculty appointment as Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the George Washington School of Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Stixrud is a frequent lecturer, and he has authored scientific articles on Transcendental Meditation and book chapters on meditation and the integration of the arts into education. Dr. Stixrud has been quoted often in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London, Scientific American, Time.com, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, Barron’s, and Vogue. Dr. Stixrud holds a doctorate degree in School Psychology from the University of Minnesota. He did his training in neuropsychology at the Children’s Hospital of Boston (as a fellow of the Harvard Medical School) and Tufts New England Medical Center. Dr. Stixrud is also a rock and roll musician and plays in the band Close Enough.

About Ned: Ned Johnson is an author, speaker, and founder of PrepMatters, an educational company providing academic tutoring, educational planning, and standardized test preparation. A professional “tutor-geek” since 1993, Ned has spent nearly 40,000 one-on-one hours helping students conquer an alphabet of standardized tests and honing his interpersonal skills. A battle-tested veteran in the
fields of test prep, stress regulation, and student performance, Ned coaches clients to manage their anxiety and find the motivation to reach their full potential.

In 2006, Ned co-authored the book Conquering the SAT: How Parents Can Help Students Overcome the Pressure and Succeed, which tackles the outsized role anxiety plays in standardized testing. With Dr. William Stixrud, Ned co-authored The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. Their book explores how fostering children’s autonomy can help
solve two challenges endemic to kids today: facing anxiety and developing intrinsic motivation. Ned is a sought-after speaker and teen coach on study skills, sleep deprivation, parent-teen dynamics, and test anxiety, and his work is featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, BBC, and many others.



  • Why having a sense of control is so critical for kids’ development
  • What “control” looks like in a child’s life at different ages and stages
  • How parents can play the role of their child’s “consultant” as a way to support them with scaffolding but not “controlling” their lives
  • Bill and Ned’s thoughts about the effectiveness of external reward systems / “carrot and stick” parenting
  • The importance of focusing on the long view when it comes to our kids
  • Why Bill and Ned believe that kids want to do well and be successful
  • How parents can flip the switch to release some of their parenting-related fear and shifting that energy
  • How this applies to children who are suffering from anxiety and depression





Read through the whole episode!






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