122: Empowering Kids to Handle Life’s Basic Problems, with Kimball Lewis

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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A parent’s protective nature is often at odds with preparing our kids for adulthood and handling any problems that come their way. Our intention is to lovingly protect them from harm and struggle, but not experiencing struggle means they’re not prepared to do for themselves and handle the basic problems of life.

In this episode, CEO of EmpoweringParents.com, Kimball Lewis, shares insight into why this generation of teens and young adults don’t seem prepared and strategies to prepare kids to be successfully independent. It’s ideal to start young, very young, but it’s never too late for change. Whether your child is 7 or 17, this episode has great wisdom for you.


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My Guest

Kimball Lewis is the CEO of EmpoweringParents.com. In addition to his leadership and management roles, he contributes as an editor, a homeschooling expert, and a parent coach. He resides in Orlando, Florida, with his wife and two teenage sons.

EmpoweringParents.com is company dedicated to empowering parents with the tools to manage the most challenging behavior problems in children ages 5 to 25. Their philosophy and approach is based on the work of the late child behavior expert James Lehman, MSW and his Total Transformation parenting programs.



Kimball Lewis (00:03): In reality. If you don't learn how to do these things, as you become an adult, your life's going to be very uncomfortable. So as a parent, you don't want to, you want to protect your kids from harm, but you do not want to protect them from discomfort because discomfort is how they grow.

Penny Williams (00:20): Welcome to the parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author ADHD, a holic and mindset Mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams (00:49): Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast today. My guest is Kimball Lewis, the CEO of empowering parents, and I'm really excited today to be talking about empowering kids to handle life's basic problems. And there are some reasons why our kids might struggle with us and what we can do to really help them to get to that place where they're able to interact with the world at large and, and be a really successful adult. Thanks for being here, Kimball and sharing some of your time and wisdom. Will you start by introducing yourself? Let everybody know who you are and what you do.

Kimball Lewis (01:26): Thanks Penny. First of all, it's nice to be here. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. And so I'm Kimble Lewis. I'm the CEO of empowering parents.com and we're a website who offers help to parents who are struggling with issues of, of severe defiance and backtalk. And basically people find us when they do a Google search where they're just constantly arguing and fighting with their kids, where they have their kids have you know, motivation problems or other stuff. They're just, parenting is not fun for them anymore. And their kids are not, usually kids are hitting about adolescents age. That's more, most typical and things are just not going well anymore. And parenting is not fun anymore. And it's a constant battle. So that's how they find us from Google and our websites, empowering parents.com. And the basis of all the work we do is a child behavior program called the total transformation, which was developed by a guy named James Lehman.

Kimball Lewis (02:18): After about 30 years of practice working with defiant kids, mostly in group home settings, but he put a program together for in his private practice. It sent it home for parents to give them some of the tools that, that he used in group home to deal with like severe defiance. Like what do you do when you're dealing with backtalk and defiance? Like, how did, like, what do you actually do in those situations? So it was kind of a, how to guide and he put the program together in the late two thousands and it became really popular. And then in 2010 he suddenly dropped dead. So he passed away right in his height of popularity and the program and everything sort of floundered for a few years. And then about six years ago, I picked it and put everything online. It used to be DVDs and CDs and books back in those days, everything online.

Kimball Lewis (03:06): And it's kind of having a resurgence cause there's ideas, it's too bad. He left us when he did, because he was becoming really popular and his ideas are great. So, so that's what I've been doing for the last six years is trying to, take his I'm evangelizing his his approach to dealing with defiance and, and a lot of things that, that parents deal with, especially as kids reach adolescence. And then, and now actually through early twenties, our biggest, huge number of our customers are coming with adult kids, living at home and they can't get them out of the house and they're not ready to leave the house because they don't have life skills yet.

Penny Williams (03:36): Right? Yeah. This generation is very different. I, my kids are 18 and almost 22 and it's so different from when I was that age. You know, I was desperate for independence. I got my driver's license as soon as I was old enough. And you know, I went off to college as soon as I could. And I just really craved that independence. And a lot of these kids in this generation just don't, they're not motivated in the same way as, I guess some of them, my kids could care less about driving and, and they're also introverts, but it's really interesting to me how different it is.

Kimball Lewis (04:15): It's so funny you say that because when I, like, I remember the day I turned 16, like I went and got my driver's license. It's a huge deal. And half of my, I have, I have a 19 year old and a 17 year old now and half their friends, like don't have their licenses now care. I don't get it. Like, I want you guys to want to like, take the car and go like why we don't need to go anywhere.

Penny Williams (04:35): Yeah. It's wild. You know, my daughter's in college, she has lots of college friends who don't drive. It boggles my mind.

Kimball Lewis (04:42): Is it Uber? Or is it like, yeah, I don't know. Yeah. It's, it's, it's, it's different. And, and you don't have to leave your house to communicate with your friends.

Penny Williams (04:49): Yeah. You don't have to go see them or find them or, yeah. It's totally different.

Kimball Lewis (04:54): It's not all bad. It's just weird when you see it, like, wow. They don't really care about their driver's license. That was such a huge thing.

Penny Williams (04:59): Yeah. And so how do we, prepare them for life outside of our houses when it's not such a big motivation for them anymore? I think that's a good place maybe to start is how do we, how do we first figure out why, why are they struggling with that sort of thing? What sort of life skills are they missing? And then how do we, how do we help them develop that? How do we foster and nurture that in them as they're growing up?

Kimball Lewis (05:30): Yeah. So we've always counseled that you need to be like intentional about these things. Like he just doesn't, it just doesn't always happen on its own. Like you have to sort of plan these things. So that article that we talked about about the five life, five tips to help your child make it in the real world early on you know, recommend having your kids do tasks around the house that you otherwise might not think that they could or would do. So I don't know. We made our kids start doing their laundry pretty early on. And I don't know, the washing machine has a lot of buttons, but you know what it is. I watched my kids play video games and their games. I play their games at them sometimes, and they're complicated. They're really complicated. And I'm thinking to myself, if they can do this, they can run a washing machine.

Kimball Lewis (06:16): And the dishwasher, like there's, there's a lot that they're really, really capable of doing. And so I'm always looking for places to give them responsibilities. I had one thing in the article about like, when my kids were 12, I had a minute, maybe it was 13. I forgot I'm gonna get in trouble. If I say, if it's too young, but we found out we found a parking lot where they could drive the car. And I figured if they can, if they can do what they can do on their electronics, they can operate a card as far, if it's much easier, much easier to drive. So find empty lots and, and just give them responsibilities that actually make them nervous a little bit because I think we underestimate their abilities. Yeah. And we protect them and we protect them. I was, I forget what it is.

Kimball Lewis (06:57): But like in Alaska, the driving age is like 13 or 14 because there's so many kids that have to like work and do other stuff up there. And so I think we underestimate our kids' abilities. But there's another side of that coin, which is that we don't trust them either. We don't trust their judgment. And some of that comes down to why a lot of parents are coming to our site is because they've sort of, very often they've accountability has been lost in many places and it's not new to this generation. It's happened to other generations too. I think it's a common thing with kids, you know? So you don't trust them, but I like to start early. I think you should start early with your kids on, on giving them responsibilities because they're actually probably safer to give a teacher 12 year old how to drive than a seventeen-year-old. Right. Because they're not as crazy. Yeah. They're a little more, yeah.

Penny Williams (07:44): Hi Alden, I think. Yeah. And I think the point that you made about giving kids responsibilities or tasks that offer a little anxiety to them is really important because if we're always protecting them, they're not gaining that sense that they can handle things that are hard or uncomfortable or anxiety provoking. And for kids with ADHD, that's an even bigger problem I see with a lot of kids is they're, avoiders like I call my son the serial avoider. We will avoid everything automatically. If it's something new or something, he doesn't know what to expect, that wall goes up, you know? And so we've been working on sort of challenging a little bit, not enough to shut him down, but enough to grow and nurture that ability to sit with discomfort, to try things that you're unsure about, and, and that's really important. And if we're not doing that, when they leave our house, they don't know how to do anything on their own.

Penny Williams (08:51): Like, my daughter was constantly texting me from laundry was one of them. I don't know how to work. This machine leaves me a photo at like 9:00 AM, the first Sunday she's at school. And I'm like, wait a minute. And granted, the machine was very complicated. It was different than what we had at home. And, she had done her own laundry and, but it, it was just like, I was her automatic. It wasn't even Google. It was me. And it was because I hadn't started early enough with really giving them responsibilities and not protecting so much. You know, I was definitely a really protective parent when, when I went too far with that, they don't learn how to do that.

Kimball Lewis (09:32): So that's, that's where this becomes art rather than science. Because at that point, when she asks you to help her, or do you go, you know what, it's time for you to figure this out on your own. I feel very confident. You can do it. You look at it, you might have to look to study it. If it takes you half an hour, that might be normal, just, but you know, there's this whole thing around anxiety, like anxiety prevents a lot of people from doing things. And I think we forget as adults that almost everything we did as a kid was anxious. Like, cause it was all new. And the anxiety actually prevents people from doing stuff. When what, what they need to do is practice doing things despite their anxiety. Cause I, I grew up with anxiety. I still have anxiety.

Kimball Lewis (10:09): Like I've been doing a podcast recently, but I was telling my son like, the first few that I did, I was like anxious about it. I felt like I was, I mean, it was silly. I'm like, I'm like 50 and I'm like nervous about talking about some stuff. Cause it was a new, it's kind of a new thing. Right, right. I'm sure you were nervous the first time you ever did a podcast interview. Absolutely. But, but you work, but you've been nervous doing other things in your life along the way. And you're used to that feeling and you know that after you do it a few times, you're going to settle down. It's gonna be fine and you'll get better at it. But for our kids, this is often the first time that they're facing that anxiety. And they don't know if the anxiety is normal or not normal.

Kimball Lewis (10:47): They might think there's something wrong with them. That's so like, like my son and it's actually in the article or a version of it's in the article made my son get a job. Like I'm like, you gotta get a job. You have, you're spending too much time. Not doing anything at all. And but he was only 16 and there's a McDonald's down the street. I go, there I go. It would be perfect. It takes, it's like five minutes away. You just go work at McDonald's. You know, it's actually probably, it's probably fun. Like, and that's the perfect first job. It was my first job. Oh, did you actually work at McDonald's because it's kind of cliche, but it's like awesome. It's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And, and the hardest thing for him was, and we don't, we forget this, but the hardest thing for him was to walk in there and talk to a complete stranger and say, and not even know what words to say and say something really goofy, like kind of a job.

Kimball Lewis (11:38): Like you don't even don't even know what to say. So you have to coach them a little bit and realize that the reason they're not doing it is because they're actually scared to go talk to that stranger. Who's an adult. Exactly. And getting your kids used to putting themselves out there. And then they actually kind of humble themselves because they feel dopey doing it. And they are a little dopey because they're doing it for the first time and they're a little goofy, but you have to tell them that's normal. And the way that you build esteem is by doing hard things and doing things that make you feel bad about yourself initially, but then you do it and you get through it and you survive it. And, or maybe you don't survive at the first time, but you try it and you try it again. And then that's sort of how you build your confidence. So I kept telling them, you're not going to be confident. You don't build up your confidence and then go talk to the guy at McDonald's. So you don't know, you go talk to the guy at McDonald's, you don't know, you go through the pain of it and then you build your confidence up afterwards. Cause it probably turns out okay. You know?

Penny Williams (12:28): Yeah. And neuroscience shows that the more we experience the things we fear and they're okay, they go, okay, the more our brain realizes that we can do them. And the less it triggers our anxiety, like physiologically doing the things that we fear and having success with them makes us less anxious going forward in those things. Like one thing for me was public speaking. I've been terrified my whole life. I have some pretty intense anxiety, especially social anxiety. And so I just avoided it. Like I wanted to be a communications major in college. I had to take a public speaking class, so I didn't meet, like I really avoided. And then, as I've done this work with parents and started being invited to speak, I've forced myself to accept public speaking gigs that were larger, that I knew would feel like I was going to die, but I did that because I knew it would help me get over that hump. And it did, it totally did. And I am so much better for it. And so yeah, just pushing our kids again enough to challenge them without sort of sending them into a tailspin. But I think if we don't then how are they ever going to put themselves out there? How are they going to get a job? How are they going to, maybe make new friends, even in different situations as an adult, we just have to prepare them.

Kimball Lewis (13:58): Yeah. And that's, that's the big you know, in our, in our parenting advice that we give on our site, a lot of it's around the consequences and other stuff and, and not letting inappropriate behavior be of a benefit to the child, likes a lot of kids like when they're behaving appropriately and they actually get out of that thing that they don't want to do, or, or they put up enough of a fight about doing their chores, that the next time it's time to do a chore. The parents says to themselves, you know what, I'll just do it myself. It'll be way easier than having another fight. And so there's a lot of it's around that. But a lot of it is around coaching kids through doing things that are uncomfortable for them. And this is what we call it sort of emotional solving problem, which is the kids are starting to deal with sort of complex emotions, particularly around anxiety.

Kimball Lewis (14:42): And are you, do you have a psychology background or what? I do not know. So, so there's a concept called, okay. So there's a lot of therapists have, are trained in what's cognitive behavior therapy, which is all around like thinking errors and stuff. And one of the thinking errors in cognitive behavior therapy is called emotional reasoning. And it goes something like this. It says, because I feel bad about this. There must be something wrong with it. So, so in the case of like anxiety and kids dealing with anxiety and new situations, they stayed themselves because I feel anxious about it. I must be doing the wrong thing. There must be something not right about going to McDonald's and applying for that job. It's not the right thing for me because I feel anxious. Like their anxiety becomes evidence that something's not right, rather than it's, it's a thinking error that they're just anxious because it's something now.

Kimball Lewis (15:28): And you kinda have to explain that. Cause I, my kids I've seen them go through anxious moments and stuff and it's like, no, it's going to be fine. And even if it's not fine, it's not a big deal. You just go through it and you'll settle down. And then you'll know, in a few months, whether it's not the right thing or not, but don't let it stop you just because you're, you're anxious to be getting, they need coaching through that. That's really the coaching role that, we encourage parents to try to coach their kids through it, but then you get a job at McDonald's and it's like, it's actually very awkward to go in and talk to the manager and ask for a job at first. And then when you get the job, it's very awkward to talk to customers for the first time.

Kimball Lewis (16:02): And I don't know if you remember that actually my port, my poor son. Oh my God. Like anyone who ever makes fun of a McDonald's job, like they should, they should do what my son did, which was, which was he worked at. If it was a very busy McDonald's day one, he walked in, he didn't really have any train. They didn't train him. He put a headset on him and they put him in the drive through and they tried to coach them through it because I didn't have time to train them. And they were really busy. Okay, good. So I picked him up four hours later, his eyes were wide. It was the most stressful thing you'd ever been. He was like, Oh my God. And I'm thinking to myself, I go, I go, I can't imagine if someone put me on a headset on me and had me work the drive through on day one at McDonald's like, it's not simple.

Penny Williams (16:38): I mean, that job, there's so much multitasking that has to happen when they put you in the drive-thru like I was the queen of drive-through. They always stuck me there because I, I could be efficient with it. But there's a lot of people who that's just too much at one time. And I, and so, the other thing too, I think, is guiding our kids to figuring out what is a good fit for them. Especially kids with ADHD. You know, there are some challenges and something like working the drive-through and in a fast food restaurant is really taxing to your working memory, which is often a struggle for people with ADHD. And so we have to, I think help them to, to navigate which sort of jobs would be a better fit maybe, or, trying things and being able to say, okay, this really doesn't work for me. This is not my strength. And that's okay too,

Kimball Lewis (17:28): But you don't know that till you try it. That's the thing, you know what I mean? Cause, cause there's some things that are, that are my thing that I was anxious about at first. And you would've missed out if you let it, if you let that, if my parents had let that hold me back or weren't pushing me

Penny Williams (17:42): And in the right environment, those challenges like executive functioning, working memory and stuff they're to handle them better because their brain is, is more engaged. You know, if it's something they're really interested in, then those weaknesses aren't as big of a deal.

Kimball Lewis (17:58): No, your public speaking. It's interesting because if you public speak enough and you, and you told someone that this is not my thing, I'm like definitely afraid of public speaking. They wouldn't do like, wow, that's really weird because you're a good public speaker. And because they don't really know what's going on inside, you know what I mean? Like they, and I have the same thing I I've from like early on. I never had a problem speaking. Like if, whether it's 50 or a thousand people, I don't have any problem. Like I don't really have any fear. It's not like I'm necessarily good at it, but I don't have any fear. I'll do go ahead and talk to, to a huge crowd. It doesn't, I don't get anxious about that. But if you send me to a cocktail party, I don't know anyone. Like if my wife's not there as my sidekick, I have social anxiety going into social situations as small. Like I get socially anxious about those things, but you would never know it because I've, I've learned over the years how to overcome it and I've gotten much better.

Penny Williams (18:47): Yeah. You learned to manage.

Kimball Lewis (18:49): Yeah. And you learned like small talk a little better and you just kind of learned to like pretend to be comfortable and then eventually you get comfortable, but it's not natural to me and my wife on the other hand is perfectly fine in that situation, but she does not like to public speak.

Penny Williams (19:03): Right. Just small group.

Kimball Lewis (19:06): She's great with complete strangers and in small groups or, she had to go to some event where she doesn't know anyone and she just has to mingle and get to know people. She's fine with that. And that's like, for me, that's, that's scary.

Penny Williams (19:17): So scary. Just when you said it, I got a pit in my stomach. Like that's my, that's my biggest struggle going somewhere. I, where I don't know.

Kimball Lewis (19:25): We don't know anyone. Yeah. What if, and then you're thinking like, what are they gonna like me? What if they

Penny Williams (19:29): All that judgment comes in? But I have, as I've gotten older, especially in the years, past 40, I don't care as much. It's helpful to the anxiety, but yeah.

Kimball Lewis (19:40): Yeah. We were, we were just talking today. Like my son's anxious about he's going off to college and he's he's not like scared of college or anything, but he's just, just change makes, creates anxiety for him. Like a lot of things are changing and he's sort of like his childhood's over and he's a sensitive child and anxious about it. And he's like an age reminds me of me cause I have the same issues and he's just still bothered at, I go yeah, a little bit, but I go, but you build calluses over time. Build these emotional calluses where you've done it enough. It's still there. But you know, like if you haven't played golf in a while or done something where you get blisters, like you just know the blisters will go away. New decals is cause it's happened dozens and dozens of times and you don't worry about it as much, but, but these are the first time the kids are going through it.

Penny Williams (20:22): Yeah. And it's, it's a struggle to get them to take that step, to put themselves out there to maybe fail. It's so hard to get them to, to be that courageous and vulnerable, I guess. And I'm just wondering like how do parents motivate their kids to be willing to try something that might be uncomfortable or anxiety? You know, we can't force our kids to do things, especially when they're teens or young adults even. And so what do we do to show them that they can get through it, to get them to take that step?

Kimball Lewis (21:01): Well, a lot of it's is, there's this sort of coaching and other and sort of teaching about the process, but sometimes that's not enough. And we've taken the approach. We actually recommend this, that if the alternative is they're not doing anything you need to make doing nothing really uncomfortable for your child. Right. Do you already mean like, like my child not getting a job was going to be very uncomfortable for them. They were, they were going to be consequences if he didn't get a job. Right. So, so the alternative which is not doing anything is becomes very uncomfortable. And, and in reality, if you don't learn how to do these things, as you become an adult, your life's going to be very uncomfortable. So as a parent, you don't want to, you want to protect your kids from harm, but you do not want to protect them from discomfort because discomfort is how they grow.

Kimball Lewis (21:47): Exactly. doing hard things is how you, doing things that are, that are steamable or how you build steam, I'm not doing easy stuff and you stumble and fall. You know, we didn't learn how to walk by not falling, it's foul. And we used to put bumpers on that furniture. So they don't smash their head on the corner of a table, but, but they have to fall. So, but yeah, but sheltering your child from the comfort or not making it uncomfortable for doing nothing, like doing nothing has to be uncomfortable if they're not getting out there and sort of meeting responsibilities or, or trying. So, so it's a combination of coaching, but also making the thing that they shouldn't ought to be doing. Not particularly comfortable. Yeah. Cause it is. Cause it will be uncomfortable later on in life, if you haven't figured that out and you hit and your, when you're in your mid twenties, it gets, it gets a lot harder.

Penny Williams (22:36): Yeah. I mean, it really, it's so interesting that being a protective parent, we have the best of intentions and yet we're really making life hard for our kids, even though that's the opposite of what we're trying to do. And it's a hard lesson, especially for a parent, who's really I was really over protective. I was really nervous. I guess it's part of that anxiety that I have that I just wanted to keep them from harm. And, and I had to figure it out as they were getting older, like, wait a minute, they don't think they can do anything themselves now because it was easier for me to do it or because I wanted to protect them. And I had to really undo a lot of things. And so for parents of younger kids, you've got to let them figure things out on their own sometimes.

Penny Williams (23:26): And they might have to fall, as long as there's not life and limit risk, safety is always safety. But beyond that, we really have to let them figure it out and let them figure out that they can do it and they can be okay. Even if they fail at something or even if they stumble that they're still to be able to get back up and go on and it's going to be okay. One thing that I have have done for a few years now that I learned to do was really to be open about my own issues, my own discomforts and what happened, when I did speak to that much bigger audience a few years ago and forced myself to do it, I was very open with my kids about it. And we talked about it a lot.

Penny Williams (24:10): You know, I'm really so nervous. I'm not sure I can do this. I think I'm going to be sick. Like, and, and all that was very true. Like I was really struggling with having committed to it and the, and the audience size doubled after I had it. So I was really freaking out. And then after it was over and I came home and I was like, look, I didn't die. I didn't have to go to the hospital. I was totally okay. And it actually went well and now I know I can do this. And then when I took another sort of speaking gig, that was of a similar size, I'm like, look, I'm doing it again. And I'm feeling good about it this time. You know, really just being very open and human with our kids, I think goes such a long way.

Kimball Lewis (24:52): And, and it wouldn't, and it wouldn't be the end of the world if it turns out that public speaking is not your thing. Right. Do you know what I mean? Cause you will, you will learn that. And you can kinda, if you're, if you do enough of these things, you can start, you can laugh at yourself a little bit about [inaudible], but I gave it, but I gave it a try.

Penny Williams (25:12): I tried it. It's not my thing. And I'm going to move on. And then that's the

Kimball Lewis (25:16): Cause. Cause something, I talk about this with talking to my nephew about this cause he's in his early twenties and like trying to make job choices and other stuff and he doesn't know if something's the right choice or not. I go, well, even if it doesn't work out, doesn't mean it was the wrong choice. Right. Cause a lot of times like people have excited about switching, like, should I switch my job or not? I always think the answer is almost always yes. Because you need to see different things, but if you switch and it doesn't work out, it doesn't mean that that the decision to switch was a wrong decision. It just means it didn't work out.

Penny Williams (25:45): Right. And we learn by making mistakes. Like, that's just human nature. We all make mistakes. And I think we often put on this front of sort of perfection for our kids and that's actually detrimental to them because they feel like, wow, I'm, I'm really struggling with all this stuff. And I am supposed to be this adult who doesn't struggle. We all struggle. Everyone struggles in some way or another. And it's really important for us to show that to our kids.

Kimball Lewis (26:14): Yeah. And there's another, there's this whole in the total transformation parenting program that we have, one of the early sections is what we call ineffective. We sort of point out what are we don't ever talk about. Good and bad parents. Cause, cause we don't think there's like, not people, aren't bad parents. It's just that some things are more effective than others. So we're trying to point out what's effective. It's not effective in some of the there's a whole section on the ineffective parenting roles. And they have, they have names like the martyr, the savior, the over negotiator, the martyr and the savior are the, they always saved their kid. Like if their kid's about to fail, they go and they talk to the teacher and they get the teacher to give them a passing grade. Or that's, that's the, that's the savior they come in and they always save their kid from, from whatever the consequences, natural consequences of their actions. And then the martyr is the one who actually does the homework for the kid. Right. Cause it's because they're, maybe they're convinced the school actually would fail them if they didn't even, even if they went in and talked to them and now they're like, well, I'm going to do the homework for them because they can't have a bad grade. And I don't know, it's I, we, we would argue that a bad grade is not as bad as the lesson that your kids learn. If you're doing your work, their work for them.

Penny Williams (27:24): Oh yeah. I wish I had let my son stumble more earlier on in high school and I didn't, I was too protective still at that time. And so once we got to senior year, which he just graduated in January, it was brutal. It was brutal to get him done. And part of that was just his experience in school has been really traumatic honestly for 12 years with ADHD and autism spectrum and learning disabilities and a high IQ. Like he was just so misunderstood and expectations were never really doable for him a lot of times. And so they really taught him to give up on it, unfortunately. But yeah, I wish that I had stepped back more, I knew he needed help and I knew the school wasn't providing what he needed or the level that he needed. And so I was really taking on that role of filling in the gaps and, and it wasn't, it wasn't the best lesson for him really, but you know, that's hindsight and we can't do anything about that, but we're definitely,

Kimball Lewis (28:27): It's always hard to know that. I mean, yeah,

Penny Williams (28:29): It is hard to know and it, and the way he was already starting to sort of give up on school, I worried that that was just gonna S you know, seal that deal. And we were really gonna have a worst time, you just don't know, and you can look back and go, well, I should've maybe done this instead, but maybe if I had done that, it would have been worse. Like I still don't know that, and that parents get really stuck in that place trying to figure out what's the right thing to do.

Kimball Lewis (28:56): We, we decided to homeschool our kids at about like six or seventh grade, not for any particular reason other than the company I was at, we had like, this was back in 2012 and we had remote workforce anyway. Like we built a company, so it offered a lot of flexibility and we just thought it would be kind of fun. So so we did homeschooling and, and they just graduated and they're off to college now, but people are like, are you glad you did it? And I I'm always, like, I think it was good. Like we were happy with it. And I think the kids are happy, but I don't know what the alternative would have been. Maybe they would have been way better if they went to a public school, maybe they would have had, a much better experience. They used to do a lot of theater before we started homeschooling, but there's not much, actually we could have gotten them into theater and they probably wouldn't have stayed with theater.

Kimball Lewis (29:36): But, but my point is that you don't really know what would have happened in the other otherwise. So it's hard to, it's always hard to know, but it's good to look back on what you've been doing and say, could I have been more effective? Is there, and moving forward, what are the, what are the better things? And one of the things we found in our when we work with parents is that it doesn't matter when you start like it better start early, but it's not too late. It's never, it's never too late to start doing the effective stuff. And you see amazing turnarounds of, of kids and, and parents who were in a really bad place. And they start recognizing the things that are ineffective and are not working. And you put more effective things in place and you stick with it and make, and you assess, is this working?

Kimball Lewis (30:22): Is it not working? But just because it doesn't work the first time doesn't mean you're not doing the right thing, right. It could be that you're doing the right thing. And you just need someone to say, yeah, just keep at it. That's, let's see how this works in three, four or five weeks. Let's not judge it just on the first time. And you put these things in place and things, you just see there's a lot of amazing stories out there because change does happen. The question is, does the question is not, it's changed possible. It's always, the question is how does change happen and what makes it happen? Because it's, it's always possible, but that's great for everyone to have people listen to these podcasts. There's so much information out there these days on this, where you can, you can learn from the experiences, the stuff that you're doing, people learn from these experiences by listening to this. And then there's someone whose child is in sixth or seventh grade, and they're having the same issues. And I'm like, huh. And they might be trying something differently or, you know what I mean? So

Penny Williams (31:13): Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And for kids with ADHD, that trying things and then giving up too soon, with ADHD and shifting our parenting, typically it takes longer, we need to stick with things that we haven't seen results with yet for a longer amount of time to really see results. I think that change happens more slowly, often with our kids with neurological differences. But I'm constantly coaching parents on that. You know, don't give up on this too soon. You're not going to see any change right away. You have to keep going. Like, I know this works, you just have to stick with it. And you know, that can be really challenging for a parent. And then on the flip side, it's also hard to change what you're doing. If it's what you've always been doing, even if it's not working right. Like parents are like, I keep telling, I keep on the same. I'm so consistent. Why isn't it working well? Cause that doesn't work for your kid. Like it's time to change. If it's

Kimball Lewis (32:13): At some point, if it's not working, you have to change things.

Penny Williams (32:16): Yeah. You have to do that. And different things work for kids with ADHD though. You know, there's a lot of parenting approaches that work really well for neuro-typical kids that don't work for kids with ADHD. And so figuring that out is, is sometimes a tough battle too. But I think the biggest piece, especially because our kids avoid discomfort because they're more, they're more likely to do that is to start offering them independence, doing things on their own as early as possible. You know, I was definitely the parent who was like, it was just faster and easier for me to do it myself. You know, instead of had my, have my kid butter, his toast and mutilate it and get better everywhere. I would just do it for him where he didn't that I didn't teach him how to do it himself. I didn't, and I didn't give him that confidence that he can so often we're giving the message that we don't think our kids can do it. That's what they're receiving from us doing it for them. And of course, we don't want to send that message to our kids. So

Kimball Lewis (33:21): We sent it in cause we're focused on behavior stuff. And it happens in more subtle ways also is that when you don't hold your child accountable, especially if your child has a diagnosis, if you don't hold them accountable for behavior, they start to think that the reason and every, and, but everyone else is being held accountable, but that they're, they're being singled out as different. They start to think they're defective in some way, like, Oh, I'm not even held accountable. They must have lost hope in me. Do you know what I mean? Because there's some, there's some of that stuff going on as well. So

Penny Williams (33:49): Absolutely anything else you wanted to make sure we talk about before we wrap up?

Kimball Lewis (33:55): Well you're reminding me of a whole bunch of stuff. I feel like we could talk for days about this, but you know, we always, we have this concept in our programs of start from where your child is and move forward, which is, you may want your child functioning at a certain level, but they're not there yet. And you want to challenge them, but start from where they are and then incrementally move the challenges up. And then the other, the other thing that we say all the time is parent to child. You have not the one you wish you had. Yes. Child has challenges. You need to adjust your parenting for the child that you have, not the child that you envisioned that you are going to have before you had kids and everything else. The reality is always a little messier than, than what you might've thought of might be. So

Penny Williams (34:37): Nothing could be truer for neuro atypical kids and raising them. You have to parent the kids that you have, you have to throw out those neuro-typical expectations and adjust. Yeah. And I love that. You said, start with, with where they're at. That's really important to you for our audience because ADHD is a developmental disorder. So if my kid's 15, maybe his functioning in some ways is 12 or 13. So if I have 15 year old expectations there, he's never going to be able to succeed. And all that does is cause friction and arguments and damages your relationship. And I could go on, but yeah, we really have to be very mindful of that.

Kimball Lewis (35:18): And then one more related thing that, that we put in there is that if there's a lot of issues you're dealing with a lot of times, you just have to pick one and start with that one and see if you can get that one better. Yeah. If you try to take care of everything at once, it just, it might be overwhelming. So, find some, find some success on some particular issue. That's, that's a problem and see if we can get them working on that one again, that better. Then you can use that as

Kimball Lewis (35:38): Example for the other ones as well.

Penny Williams (35:40): [Inaudible] See this made you really uncomfortable, but you did it. And that went great. I mean, yeah, we have to use those things. Sure. We have to remind them, and again, it goes back to the way that their brains are wired. We have to remind them that that went okay. And, and that other things can go okay too. Oh. And they just have to show that to their brain. They have to show their brain proof to their fear and their worrying brain that they can do it such important stuff. So many things that we've touched on and that are so important. And I think we've really given parents a lot to think about here and a lot to tackle. And, and we should probably close with a reminder that tackle one thing, one thing at a time, and you can't change it all in a day.

Penny Williams (36:27): It just isn't going to happen. Thank you so much for, for being here and sharing some of your time with us. For everybody listening, you can go to the show notes and get links to any resources that we've mentioned as well as links to you, empowering parents and the total transformation program, and some other things so that you can connect with the work that they're doing. And so many great articles too, on your website. There's tons of resources and information there too. Oh. So I encourage everyone to go and check that out. The show notes are at parentingadhdandautism.com|

122 for episode 122. And with that, we'll end the episode. I'll see everyone next time. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingadhdandautism.com.

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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