256: Breaking Down Motivation: Helping Teens and Young Adults Find Their Path, with Melanie McNally, Psy.D.

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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In this episode of the Beautifully Complex podcast, I sit down with Dr. Melanie McNally, a clinical psychologist and brain coach who specializes in working with tweens, teens, and young adults. Together, we explore the struggles that many young adults face in finding motivation and direction.

Dr. Melanie shares her expertise on helping young adults build their interpersonal skills and increase their motivation. She breaks down the components of motivation into three skill sets: drive, grit, and goals, offering valuable insights for parents navigating the complexities of raising motivated teens. We also dive into the challenges of this generation’s unique landscape, touch on the impact of social media, and discuss the changing dynamics of adolescence and parenting.

I found Dr. McNally’s approach to be insightful and empowering, offering practical strategies for parents and young adults alike. If you’re a parent navigating the complexities of raising neurodivergent teens and young adults, Dr. Melanie’s wisdom is sure to provide valuable guidance and support.

3 Key Takeaways


The Impact of Social Media: Dr. Melanie discusses how social media creates a false sense that everyone else has their lives figured out, which puts pressure on teens and young adults to have a clear path. This insight helps parents understand the challenges their children face in the current digital age.


Motivation is comprised of 3 skill sets: Drive, Grit, and Goals. Many teens and young adults struggle with grit, so it’s important to start with tolerating discomfort and doing small, unpleasant tasks to build grit.


Exploration is key in early adulthood: It’s okay not to have everything figured out in your twenties. Encouraging teens and young adults to explore their passions and interests can help them find their path, without feeling the pressure to have a clear direction.

What You'll Learn

Understand the 3 skill sets that make up motivation (drive, grit, goals) and how they can be developed to increase motivation in neurodivergent teens and young adults.

Learn practical strategies to help neurodivergent young adults overcome the black hole that tech can be and increase engagement in offline activities to boost motivation.

Gain insights into building emotional intelligence in teens and young adults to help them thrive in academic and professional settings.

Discover the importance of nurturing curiosity and passion in young adults, and how to guide them in setting goals in a supportive and flexible manner.


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My Guest

Melanie McNally, Psy.D.

Dr. Melanie is a seasoned clinical psychologist who has dedicated the breadth of her career to the empowerment and well-being of teens and young adults. With over two decades in the field, Dr. Melanie has established herself as a trailblazer in adolescent psychology, consistently pushing the boundaries to understand the unique challenges and needs of today’s youth. Her groundbreaking research and therapeutic methodologies have garnered acclaim within professional circles, and she is frequently sought after as a speaker at conferences and educational seminars.

Known for her innovative solutions, patient-centric approaches, and compassionate guidance, Dr. Melanie remains a beacon of hope and a leading voice in adolescent emotional and mental health. Her latest book, The Emotionally Intelligent Teen: Skills to Help You Deal with What You Feel, Build Stronger Relationships, and Boost Self-Confidence (New Harbinger Publications 2023) is available now!



Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:00:03]: You know, we can have all the passion in the world or we can have a clear purpose. You know, we know what our purpose is at our core. But if we don't have that direction and that road map, we're not really gonna get very far with it. And then we're probably gonna lose some of that motivation because nothing's happening with it. We want to be moving forward.

Penny Williams [00:00:30]: Welcome to the Beautifully Complex podcast where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams [00:00:53]: Welcome back, everybody. I am really excited to have doctor Melanie McNally with me. She has been here on the podcast before, and I think maybe one of the summits before as well. Always a pleasure. So much wisdom on teens and young adults, areas that many of us are struggling with now or maybe down the road soon. So we're gonna talk a lot about motivation and helping our young adults find their place and what that journey looks like for them. But I wanna start by just having you introduce yourself. Let everybody know who you are and what you do.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:01:32]: Thank you so much for having me. So, yes, I'm doctor Melanie McNally. I'm a clinical psychologist and brain coach, and I specialize in working with tweens, teens, and young adults in helping them build their inner personal skills, and also really helping them increase their motivation. So breaking apart what motivation is and figuring out which area they're really struggling in so that we can get them feeling excited and energized about life. And I do that with, you know, 1 on 1 brain coaching, and then I also have some online courses and some books available too.

Penny Williams [00:02:16]: Awesome. Where should we start with this conversation? I you know, for me, I would say, oh, I wanna start with motivation, but I'm not sure that's really where we start. What would you say?

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:02:27]: So one of the biggest issues I see with a lot of the young adults that I work with is they will come in because they'll say their motivation is really low. You know, they'll tell me, like, I just, you know, I don't wanna do much. I don't wanna go to college or I don't wanna work, and I'm just not motivated to do anything. And so what I always start with is, like, okay. Well, I know that's not true. I know you have some motivation to do something. Mhmm. Let's figure out first what it is that you're motivated to do and what that usually so where we usually end up starting is with tech addiction

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:03:02]: Because they are motivated to spend time on their devices. You know? They don't have any issue watching TikToks or YouTubes or scrolling mindlessly for hours. And so I feel like the tech area is a really good place to start because we have to get that area in order a little bit, and then we can kinda build on it from there.

Penny Williams [00:03:26]: Mhmm. And how do we tease apart a tech addiction from maybe, you know, tech's a lot more stimulating, or this is the area where I shine and I do really well. How do we know where that line is?

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:03:41]: So yes. And thank you for pointing that out. Because when I use addiction here, I'm using it kind of loosely.

Penny Williams [00:03:46]: Okay.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:03:47]: You know, not necessarily, like, diagnostically, but where you know, with a lot of the young adults, they will tell me, I'm spending way more time on my phone than I wanna be. Mhmm. I am bored. I find that I'm bored, yet I'm still scrolling. You know? I don't want to be on my phone, but I don't know what else to do. Right. And so they are in that realm of where it's it's really unhealthy, you know, where it's not quite in line with what we would consider addiction, territory. But they're in unhealthy territory because it's preventing them from engaging in life the way that they want to engage.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:04:35]: Like, they're not participating in life at the level that they want, and a lot of times, they're aware of it. They don't like it. You know? And and a lot of the teens, the young adults I work with, they might admit it to me, and they might not admit it to a parent Yeah. Because, you know, that's a different conversation and a different relationship. But they'll tell me, you know, I know. Like, I'm I'm on it way too much, but I don't know what else to do.

Penny Williams [00:04:59]: Yeah. And where do you start with that? As I'm just sitting here thinking, I have a 21 year old neurodivergent kid who spends a lot of time on screens and doesn't seem motivated to do some things. But they're also non preferred tasks, like cleaning your room and vacuuming the floors and you know? So I find it hard to figure out because I don't consider that you would have to be motivated to do things. I think it's more about being able to engage with what's important, but also being able to figure out what it takes to do what you wanna do. Right? Because you're saying that your clients are often they know that they are spending too much time on screens than they want to. They know that they're not meeting even their own goals, maybe. How do you make a turn from that?

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:05:49]: Yeah. So first, you know, with that self awareness piece is really important. So when a teen or young adult, you know, has the self awareness of, like, okay, I'm I'm behaving in a way that I don't like and I wanna create a little bit of change here, that's always a really good starting point because they've bought in. You know? They're there for their own reason. It's not something that, like, somebody's making them do. And then, you know, a lot of times, what I'll start with with them is having them figure out some areas that they're curious about. You know, interest things that they're just, like, interested in outside of their screens. So it doesn't matter what it is.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:06:26]: It doesn't matter if they're interested in, you know, Dungeons and Dragons or badminton or you know, it really doesn't matter, but it's just getting them to create a list of things that they're curious about and then having them start to spend time in those curiosities. Yeah. So that they are starting to just naturally spend less time on their phone. And at the same time, I like to educate them a little bit about what's happening in their brain because when their brain is used to the dopamine that they're getting and just from the scrolling, when they're not getting that anymore, when they're doing something else, they're gonna feel pulled back to their phone. They're gonna feel that that pull, and it's gonna feel really uncomfortable to ignore it. And so I want them to lean into that discomfort to know, you know, when you have your phone turned off because you are playing Dungeons and Dragons with your friends, you are gonna wanna check that phone. You're gonna wanna turn it on, and it's gonna feel really uncomfortable. But that's your brain kind of, like, recalibrating itself in a way.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:07:34]: And you want it to get used to this new normal of, like, not giving into that pull. And so while they're doing the curiosities, they're not on their phone, their brain starts to recalibrate a little bit, get used to, like, that not constant checking. And then once they've done that, then we can start to even implement some other things to help with just more of, like, the the boring tasks that you mentioned earlier, like having to clean their room or do their laundry. Where now they're in a place where it might be easier to, okay, let's make sure that your phone is turned off when you have to clean your room. You've just put a barrier between yourself and your phone so that it's not as easy now to get pulled into it because their brain is in a little bit of a better position now to handle it.

Penny Williams [00:08:25]: And I think too, like, those boring tasks can be so much more difficult for neurodivergent individuals because you just don't have that same sort of on switch for your brain for importance, and so it can be really challenging. I love leaning into interest. I think that it's so powerful for our kids. And I think, you know, as parents, we feel like it needs to be purposeful or lead somewhere, but, really, it can start without that. Right? Like, we're just trying to change habits and have exploration. Could it lead somewhere else even better? Sure.

Penny Williams [00:09:02]: Maybe. But if it doesn't, that's okay too. Right?

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:09:05]: 100%. Because, essentially so motivation is made up of 3 skill sets. Steven Kotler has done a lot of research on motivation and drive and peak performance. And so he identified this model that really I feel like resonates with a lot of teens and young adults. And so he talks about how motivation is made up of these 3 skill sets. We've got drive, we have grit, and we have goals. So drive is that internal push to do something. So that's like our passion, our purpose, you know, where we just naturally are motivated to do something.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:09:45]: Grit is our ability to stick with something even when it's boring or even when it's really challenging.

Penny Williams [00:09:52]: Yeah.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:09:52]: And then goals are the road map, the detailed directions that are gonna get us where we wanna go. And so when we think of motivation as being made up of these three skill sets, what we can do is look and see where is the teen or young adult, where are they really struggling. And so once we have the tech under control, so they're not spending all their time on there, and then now we're starting to have them spend some time in, like, their passions and spend some time earn their curiosities and then, you know, and hoping, like, okay, maybe one of these curiosities is gonna turn into something that you wanna do more of and you wanna spend a little more time on that, and then we can kind of build from there. But we also wanna see, are they struggling with grit? You know? Is that hard for them to stick with something long term? Or do they just not know how to clearly identify, create, and identify their goals? Because often, teens and young adults, they don't know how to create goals. They don't know how to break them down into little stops. And so sometimes we can say, oh, okay. You actually have some things you're passionate about. You just don't know how to break that down and create that road map.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:11:08]: And so we can do that, and then that can help increase motivation.

Penny Williams [00:11:12]: Yeah. I think a lot of parents are nodding their heads at the fact that our kids don't have grit. This is something that comes up a lot in the conversations that I have with parents, and it and it happens to my own kid as well. I call him a serial avoider because any perceived discomfort, he, like, immediately puts up a wall. Right? And so we've really been working on that avoidance, and it's difficult. It's difficult to teach the skills of being uncomfortable and getting through that when your brain works a little differently. Right? Or if you're already having anxiety, I think it's doubly hard to sit in that discomfort.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:11:51]: 100%. And a lot of times, that avoidance, it becomes safety behavior, especially, you know, you mentioned anxiety where if I'm anxious to, you know, talk in front of large groups, which I am, then I'm going to avoid, you know, those situations where I might have to do it. And then it just kind of turns into this, like, safety behavior for me. So now I'm just always going to avoid those types of scenarios, and then that might impact job opportunities or promotions or other things in my life. So with, you know, teens and young adults, especially individuals with anxiety or any other type of ADHD or anything, autism, being on the spectrum, we wanna think about really tiny baby steps. Yes. So if they're avoiding something, then we don't wanna throw them into the deep end of the pool. But we wanna think of, like, okay.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:12:46]: How can they kinda dip their toe into this to, you know, help them? And that's gonna help a lot with motivation as well. Mhmm. Mhmm. Because motivation, it comes from action. You know, we have to take that little baby step first Yeah. And then the motivation starts to follow. And so it can be the same thing with just helping our brain tolerate that discomfort, just kind of slowly easing into that pool.

Penny Williams [00:13:15]: I'm thinking about my therapist, my own therapist for me, and trying to get healthier and and having a lot of mental roadblocks to that and excuses and so forth. She told me, like, just stand on the elliptical. I don't expect you to move it. Just go put your feet on it and stand there. And starting this therapy and working with her over the last year, it has really opened my eyes to the fact that we all could use baby steps and taking things in smaller, more manageable pieces. Right? And so if I don't feel great, and that makes me not want to do the elliptical, I can just stand there and at least I'm not building this chasm of not doing it at all, which then gets me back stuck at the beginning. Right? And I actually thought it was silly, and I went home and I did my time on the elliptical. Like, I didn't just stand there, but I wouldn't have had she And I think we forget that as parents.

Penny Williams [00:14:17]: We want to go to the goal. We want our 20 something year old kid to be taking care of themselves. Right? And you have to have different steps to get there, and it's okay if they're the teeniest things in the world.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:14:30]: Yes. And those steps are gonna look different for everyone. Mhmm. Because I literally today, I was just done with a a client before this with one of my teen clients who actually a young adult who's at college and is trying to get to the gym 3 days a week and is finding on certain mornings, it's really hard to get out of bed. And so we kinda did the same sort of thing where it's like, okay. What would be a baby step? If you can't go to the gym, what would still be something that would, like, be moving you in that direction? So for him, it's like still getting up at the time he would go to the gym. Yeah. And what he's found is just by having that one giving himself permission of, like, okay.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:15:07]: I don't actually have to go to the gym, but I'm gonna get up early in the morning as though I am. And then he found, like, okay. Well, as long as I'm off, I might as well make my smoothie. Okay. As long as I've had my smoothie, I might as well go and just do a little bit of a workout.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:15:21]: As long as I'm here, I might as well add to it. But when we make it into those little steps, it gives our brain little tiny things to focus on, and so it's not as overwhelming. Yeah. Because if we're focusing on, like, okay, I have to go to the gym and do an hour long workout, my brain now is gonna feel really overwhelmed, and then I might just kinda freeze or not wanna do anything at all.

Penny Williams [00:15:45]: Yep. Yep. Been there. Done that. Yep. It's amazing, really, when we learn about ourselves more deeply. We learn also about our kids and about being parents, I think. There's a lot of wisdom in that when we really have some self reflection, which is pretty amazing.

Penny Williams [00:16:02]: So we have worked on the tech. We have leaned into curiosities, and then we've talked some about trying to develop grit. What's next after that?

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:16:15]: Yeah. And, you know, and one thing too that can also help with developing grit that we didn't talk about is because I see this a lot across the board. It doesn't matter if it's my high achieving kids or my kids who are struggling a little bit more. But with the teens and young adults, grit really does seem to be lower for Gen z.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:16:36]: And I do wanna tell parents, though, research shows grit does tend to drop with each generation. Oh, wow. So, you know, as adults, we'll, you know, be like, oh, when I was a kid, I had to do that. Mhmm. You know, I just stare out the car window, and now you guys can just watch movies. And that does tend to be true for each generation. Things get a little bit easier, so we do see grit tend to drop. But there are things that we can do to just get them to build their grit muscle and to get it a little bit stronger.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:17:06]: And so that's gonna be, you know, tolerating discomfort, doing things that are a little bit hard. That's where the baby steps really come in handy because we think of it like, okay, this is a muscle that you're building. So if you're trying to stick with things that are hard and boring, you can practice this with, like, a board game. You know? Maybe monopoly is like like, for me, monopoly is extremely painful. I cannot stand that game. And so that would be me building my grip muscle, like, plain Monopoly.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:17:35]: And it's safe, you know, because it's not personal. Like, if I don't gonna bother my self worth or anything like that. Right. But it's giving me a chance to build that muscle. And so we can do the same thing with teens and young adults of, like, okay. What's something that's kind of unpleasant for you? But we know, like, you can stick with it. You can do it. And even if it's hard or even if you're not good at it, it's not gonna take a big blow to your self confidence.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:18:03]: And encouraging them to build their muscle that way. And I find that when I explain that to teens and young adults, they are really great at figuring out what they can do, you know, what something it might be reading a chapter in a book, like a boring book, You know, where they're like, okay. I can stick with it. I can get through it. And even if I don't retain all of it, it's okay. It's not that big a deal. Or I can, you know, sit and listen to my little sister tell me all about her latest friend drama. Like, I can do that.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:18:35]: And then they know that they're working on building that grip muscle.

Penny Williams [00:18:39]: I love that.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:18:39]: Once they've done that and they're working on it, that's when we can start to figure out some goals because that's the next layer of motivation is that we need to have clear goals in order to have motivation. You know, we can have all the passion in the world or we can have a clear purpose. You know, we know what our our purpose is at our core. But if we don't have that direction and that road map, we're not really gonna get very far with it, and then we're probably gonna lose some of that motivation because Mhmm. Nothing's happening with it. Yeah. We want to be moving forward. We want to be making progress on something.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:19:22]: And so having you know, figuring out the goals and figuring out the road map can help us do that.

Penny Williams [00:19:29]: Yeah. And how do we help to guide them to that? Because I think I don't know if it's a generational thing. It's probably a little bit of a neurodivergent thing. But a lot of times, our teens and young adults just aren't sure. Right? And who really has it figured out at age 20 anyway? Like, I'm doing something totally different than what I ever thought I would do. Right? And that's just I went where life led me, but I think they feel a lot of pressure to have it figured out and to be on the right path. And finding that goal and being certain of it almost is a real hurdle. Do you see that too?

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:20:09]: Yes. In in this area, I completely blame social media because they are seeing highlight reels.

Penny Williams [00:20:17]: Yep.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:20:18]: So they're seeing, you know, these curated versions of other people, and they're thinking that everyone else has it all figured out. Right. Everyone else knows what they're doing. Everyone else has this clear path. I don't. What's wrong with me? And the reality is that's not true. We know you what you're seeing out there is curated and put together, and people don't have it all figured out. But when you're in your twenties and you're scrolling, it feels very, very real.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:20:50]: So they absolutely struggle with that and feel like they need to, and I'm I'm totally with you. When I was in my twenties, oh my gosh, I was not definitely not on the in the direction I am now. So it's okay to, like, not have things figured out. And in fact, we actually want twenties to be, like, when we're exploring. Like

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:21:14]: You know, I cannot stand these high schools where they put kids on a career path in high school, like, where they make them declare medical or I whatever. Like, they make them declare a pathway, almost like a major, which is so ridiculous when they're in high school. Because I think even when you're in your twenties, you still wanna be figuring things out. It's hard. Yeah. Because it's like over 80% of college students end up changing their major. So even what you think you want when you first start college, it's going to change.

Penny Williams [00:21:51]: Yeah.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:21:51]: Then once you're out of college, it is very normal for people to completely change career pathways, for people to go back to school. Those are all very normal things, but our society kind of has this other image that we're putting out there. Like, oh, nope. You need to know what you're gonna do, and you need to pick a path, and you have to stick on it, and you can't deviate from it, and that's Mhmm. Just not true.

Penny Williams [00:22:17]: Yeah.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:22:17]: That's why I like having them kind of figure out what they're curious about and passionate about. And even if we're creating goals around those things, it leaves a lot of wiggle room. Because if you're following a passion and something that you're, you know, really interested in and you enjoy, And even if you have goals, there's still a lot you can do with that because it's about the passion. It's not about the end result.

Penny Williams [00:22:42]: Right. And all that really begs the question, why are we spending money on college at ages 18 through 23? Right? Because you're spending the money on supposed to be a career path. Right? You have to declare a major, and you have to have it all figured out. And then they get out in the real world, and they're like, oh, the wind kind of comes out of their sails a lot of times. And it just seems to me that we need to give them more time to explore. And that's a conversation we have on this podcast all the time. Kids do not need to go to college right after high school. It's okay to take a break.

Penny Williams [00:23:18]: It's okay to take a different path. Whatever, you know, works for each individual. But I think the more we get into, especially, this generation of young adults, even makes more sense that we are allowing that extra time.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:23:33]: I completely agree. I think that college can you know, it it can be great in some ways, you know, with teaching, like, self discipline, and there's certain things that it can be really healthy for young adults. But then if they go in with this plan of, like, okay, this is what I'm going to do and they're laser focused on something, in a way, they're just setting themselves up for failure.

Penny Williams [00:23:57]: Yeah.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:23:57]: Because we know, you know, in most cases, it's not gonna turn out that way and you wanna have some flexibility. It's good to go in with the idea of, like, okay. I'm interested in this one area, but I could still go lots of different directions with it, and I can kinda figure it out as I go. Because as, you know, as humans too, that's generally how we learn best is through doing.

Penny Williams [00:24:19]: Yep. Yeah. 100%. It's such a struggle, and I think parents are just really trying to find their own footing because it's not the same to me in your twenties as it was when we, as their parents, were in our twenties. It's very, very, very different, and so it can be a real struggle. And I really appreciate you sharing a road map. You've given us a road map, where to start, what to do next, and that is so helpful. I wanna just talk about your book that you have out and the one that's coming out soon, so that people know how they might be able to learn more from you, and then we'll wrap up.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:24:57]: Yes. So I have a book out currently. It's called The Emotionally Intelligent Teen, and so it's for teens and young adults, and it's to help them build the skills of emotional intelligence. So helping them build self awareness, self regulation, and interpersonal skills Because even as we were talking about college and jobs, one of the things the World Economic Forum, when they did their latest data report, they found that employers are more concerned with an employee's emotional intelligence. That was in, like, the top 5 of in demand skills. Like, that was above technical skills. So they really want to hire people who are aware like, who have that self awareness, who have self regulation, who have good interpersonal skills. So my book that's out now is on that.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:25:51]: And then I have a book coming out September 1st, and that's for parents of teens and young adults, and it's called Raising Motivated Teens. And that's really to help parents unlock their child's potential. It's a guide, and I I take parents through some of what we talked about today with drive, grit, and goals, and, you know, really dive deep into those areas.

Penny Williams [00:26:15]: Yeah. It's such a challenging time for us to navigate as parents, teens, and young adults. You know, we still wanna be protective. They wanna be and just helping us to take it a little easier and to be kind to ourselves and to our kids on the journey that they're on.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:26:41]: Yes. It's definitely a a different time to be a parent. I'm not a parent myself, but I've seen I've worked specifically with adolescents since 2013. Mhmm. And I have seen such a shift in the way teens and young adults show up in the world, the way they engage with the world, the way parents now parent. So even in, you know, the last 11 years, I've seen quite a big shift. And I know it's a lot for parents to keep up with. So, you know, absolutely, when parents find, like, communities and can get support from one another and can practice that self compassion because, you know, you really are figuring out a lot of this stuff on your own, Parents can always reach out to me too through my website, which is destinationyou.net.

Melanie McNally, Psy.D. [00:27:29]: So it's destinationyou.net, and you can find different so I've got free resources on there, and you can always, you know, reach out to me directly there too.

Penny Williams [00:27:38]: Yeah. We'll link that up in the show notes for this episode, which are at at parentingADHDandautism.com/256 for episode 256. And again, I just wanna thank you. I'm so thankful for you and the work that you're doing in helping our teens and young adults. And with that, we'll end. I will see everybody next time.

Penny Williams [00:27:59]: Thanks for joining me on The Beautifully Complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingadhdandautism.com and thebehaviorrevolution.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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Quick Start: 3 High-Impact Actions to Transform Behavior

Transforming negative or unwanted behavior is a long and complex process. HOWEVER, there are a few actions you can take right now that will provide a big impact. These 3 high-impact strategies address foundational aspects of behavior, empowering you to help your child feel better so they can do better.



Makes time visual for those with time blindness.


Blends gaming with off-screen activities to teach coping skills through play.


Manage chores and routines while building self-confidence and independence.


A chair that gives kids a sensory hug.

About the show...

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.

Listen on Apple Podcasts  |  Google Podcasts  |  Spotify  |  iHeart Radio

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Join us for Back-to-School Prep Week!

Back-to-School Prep Week is a series of live, DONE-WITH-YOU workshops. Together, we’ll prep you, your kid, and their teachers to stress less and succeed more.

I’m providing my roadmap for a more successful transition and school year and we’re going to get your prep done at the same time! 👏🏻

$47 USD