Mixing humor, anecdotes, scientific data and experience from years of working with children, clinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud and tutoring specialist Ned Johnson – co-authors of the best-selling book The Self-Driven Child – shared with Ransom Everglades parents the science and sense of giving adolescents more control over their lives.
The pair, who also combined on the book What Do You Say?, addressed more than a hundred parents and took questions during an interactive session at the Lewis Family Auditorium on Jan. 19. They explained how feelings of autonomy and empowerment help children cope with stress and anxiety, and they offered tips and tools for fostering that autonomy.
“We really shouldn’t call it ‘raising children,’” Stixrud said, “we should call it ‘lowering parents.’”
A Ransom Everglades Parents’ Association’s Parent Network event, the talk represented a piece of the school's health and wellness curriculum – which includes parents as well as students. Psychologist Deborah Offner, who has previously worked with RE parents on proactive parenting, will be offering additional parent sessions with RE counselor Isis Perez-Gonzalez beginning in February.
Interim Head of School Rachel Rodriguez introduced the authors; Johnson runs PrepMatters, an elite tutoring service that teaches teens how to perform better on standardized tests. Stixrud is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps patients suffering from ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders and depression. The pair urged parents to work to approach problems in their adolescents’ lives with empathy and validation and support their children when they are struggling so they feel competent enough to persevere. They reminded parents never to use fear as a motivation, instead encouraging the passionate pursuit of pastimes.
They also encouraged parents to lose their own anxiety so that their children feel comfortable communicating with them.
“The best message you can give a teenager, besides I love you, is I have confidence in your ability to make decisions about your own life,” said Stixrud.
Said Johnson: “We can’t always fix the world, but we want to make the home a safe base.”
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.