Spotlight Feature: Unlocking Parental Intelligence (Guest: Dr. Laurie Hollman)

BTSpotlightDr. Laurie Hollman’s book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence, is very new. It reveals many insights into how parents can realize better discipline and improved relationships with their children by becoming “meaning makers.” We caught up with Laurie to visit with her on the writing of the book and the impact she would like to see it create.


Laurie, what was the inspiration, the driving force, behind the writing of Unlocking Parental Intelligence?

It’s hard to write in the past tense about my “inspiration” for writing about Parental Intelligence even though the book is finished and published because I continue to write about the concept. My inspiration has had and continues to have many sources for which I am grateful—the children and parents I treat in my clinical practice and my own children. I’m fortunate to be able to keep on writing about Parental Intelligence for Huffington Post, so I can reach more and more parents and receive their feedback and questions. I’m still inspired!

As my three decades of psychoanalytic practice and research progressed, I incorporated the voices of so many mothers and fathers who came at different stages in parenting. Feeling thankful to those parents for telling me how unlocking their Parental Intelligence benefited their families, I was compelled to narrow Parental Intelligence into five accessible steps for others to grow from.

My children were raised with Parental Intelligence. It was natural for me to want to understand their minds—their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and imaginings. It’s wonderful to share trust and love with your children. I hadn’t coined the term, Parental Intelligence, when I was a young mother, but I was practicing it nonetheless and wanted others to have the same good fortune to have empathetic, industrious kids with great senses of humor who enjoy learning, creating, and relating well with others. They have been and surely are an inspiration for my writing.

What were your biggest challenges in writing the book?

I love words! I revel in finding the right word to express what I’m feeling and thinking. I remember working hard on Part I: Developing Your Parental Intelligence to develop five accessible steps for parents to gain Parental Intelligence: Stepping Back, Self-Reflecting, Understanding Your Child’s Mind, Understanding Your Child’s Development and Problem Solving. With each step, I wanted to be talking with my readers through my writing.


Once the five steps were in place, one of the favorite but difficult parts of writing this book became writing Part II: Stories of Parental Intelligence in Practice. Writing short stories was new for me. I wrote about eight youngsters, their families and the challenges they faced, with examples like a two-year-old’s temper tantrums, a jealous identical twin who would hit his brother, and a lonely, though brilliant, seventeen year old.

I began to live with these characters. I remember finishing a chapter about a little boy who drew a picture that led his father to finally understand what he was going through. I was drained—I felt so much for this boy who felt he was a “bad, bad” child when he was so sensitive and wonderful.

I wanted my readers to really get to know the parents and children I was writing about and to care about them. I wanted to bring my readers into the lives of these people, to identify with them, and then naturally learn Parental Intelligence rather than feel like it was an intellectual exercise.

I hope my readers find themselves interrupting their reading to rest the book on their laps just to muse about the characters and let their minds wander into their own lives with their children. In that way, I hope they get to know themselves and their children better—loving them even more.

Writing became relaxing for me. I guess I would “get into the zone.” This experience led me to write to parents through Moms Magazine and Huffington Post. It was a shift from writing scholarly works for psychoanalytic journals and books to writing for the popular press, but I find it challenging and exciting. The book gave me the opportunity to write about what I knew very well and felt very deeply and now I can continue to do that.

You make an interesting turn on the word “unlocking” in the book’s title. What was your purpose there?

I think parents should never be underestimated even when they have self-doubts. When I first have a consultation with distressed parents and ask them questions, they are surprised how much they know about their child. As a psychoanalyst and writer I want to help parents organize what they know and harness this knowledge with the use of Parental Intelligence. In this way, I “unlock” what they know and help them use it in ways they haven’t before.

The five steps take the parents on a journey where they unlock their Parental Intelligence and get to know the underlying problems behind their child’s behavior. The behavior is really sending messages. The key is to understand and decipher those messages.

By unlocking Parental Intelligence parents learn how to understand why children do what they do, what is on their minds, and how they can comprehend their child’s inner world. The behavior is the catalyst to change as words rather than behavior become the vehicle for improved communication and connections between parent and child.

What distinguishes your approach from other approaches to parent-child conflict resolution?

My approach is distinguished by my intent to help parents become “meaning makers” by understanding and applying the three basic, interrelated tenets of Parental Intelligence. First, behaviors have underlying meanings. Second, once parents understand how their own minds are working, they are liberated to understand their child—how their child’s mind is working. And third, once meanings are clear, options surface by which to change puzzling behaviors.

When these three core concepts come into play and parents are faced with misbehavior, first they ask, “What does it mean” not “What do I do?” With this in mind, the ambiance of family life fundamentally changes.

When parents get to know themselves—their reactions to their child and the many influences on their parenting—they find that they gain a better understanding of their child who wants to be known as he or she actually is. This means that parents no longer focus on the child’s specific misbehavior as the overarching troubles and problems emerge. When those problems are addressed, the original misbehavior loses importance and usually stops. Parents learn how to understand the underlying determinants to their child’s behavior, how to ‘read’ nonverbal as well as verbal communication, and how to create an open dialogue.

You write about politics and parenting. That’s interesting; tell us about that.

My epithet for the last chapter is: “When children’s voices are heard, leaders are born.” My younger son contributed to Part III: The Future with Parental Intelligence with his millennial voice. I’ll let him speak for himself:

“America seems to be in a period of political dogma, a place where certitude is more important than nuance and understanding.” This certainty “is masqueraded as strength, but it really comes out of ignorance and fear. I think you can argue that parents fighting with a child, letting their ego get involved, are doing so out of fear of the unknown, unconsciously using a survival reflex, defending themselves unnecessarily. The only thing that can combat fear is knowledge: knowing there’s a technique to deal with understanding what’s happening in someone else’s mind. And that technique is Parental Intelligence. If Parental Intelligence were taught, if people were encouraged to understand one another before reflexively trying to defend themselves, if trying to empathize and know others’ minds was seen as a strength, we’d live in a more compassionate, if not more efficient, society.”

When a parent reads Unlocking Parental Intelligence, what do you hope is their single most important take-away?

I want parents to think of themselves as “meaning makers,” of course. By the end of the book, if not before, I’d like parents to take away the set of tools needed to help understand their children’s behavior and in turn become more effective parents. Parenting will feel more pleasurable, inspiring, and gratifying. Their children will be grateful, thinking, capable, and loving. ###


Dr. Laurie Hollman is an experienced psychoanalyst and author who has written extensively for many publications. Her faculty positions have included New York University and The Society for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. [website]



Teaching Our Children to Be Resilient (Guest: Dr. “G,” Deborah Gilboa

BTRadioInt-300x75It comes as no surprise that many of us focus on solutions only when a problem occurs. A well-intended promise to “do better next time” might or might not result in being better prepared for life’s difficulties. Resilience is the key.

Nowhere does resilience matter more than with our children. Teaching them to handle inconveniences, frustrations and emergencies before they happen is, of course, a good thing. What’s more, it adds to a youngster’s confidence.

But how often do we consistently focus on teaching resilience? How often do we encourage our children to practice it? Our guest today, Dr. “G,” (Deborah Gilboa, MD) will emphasize the importance of imparting resilience to our children. She’ll also share how we can teach it effectively in a natural and fun manner, using existing parental instincts and everyday activities. As we will see, The benefits are well worth the effort.

DGilboabookDeborah Gilboa is a board certified family physician, a mother of four, and a popular speaker and writer on the subject of parenting. She strongly believes, follows and shared three basic principles when it comes to parenting children of all ages: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience. She is the founder of, a valued resource for parents and educators, and she’s the author of the newly released e-book, Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch. (26:12)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK



10 Ways to Teach Kindness to Our Kids (Mike Ferry)

Mike Ferry photo 3We all want our kids to find happiness in life. Thanks to the “science of happiness,” research has identified several habits that make lifelong happiness more likely to occur. Kindness is one of these.

Being kind is a cost-free way to improve your emotional well-being. Plus, it doesn’t require a prescription! When we are kind, our brains experience an infusion of dopamine, the “happiness neurotransmitter.” The more kindness and compassion we display for others, the happier we become. Plus, kindness will make our world a safer and more sustainable place for our children and future generations.

For many of us, kindness may not be an innate attribute. That’s okay, because we can get better at it with practice. Here is a list of ways that we can teach kindness to our kids.

1. Model kindness. Our kids are always paying attention to our actions, whether or not we realize it. When interacting with other people, try your best to use a kind tone.

2. Give a generous tip. If you’re eating out with the kids, leave a tip that is more than expected. Explain that the server will appreciate being rewarded for a job well done.

THAIBookCover3. Bake treats for a neighbor. Kids will enjoy baking the goodies and seeing the smiles on the receiving end. Doing this will also lead to a stronger social connection, one of the most important predictors of happiness.

4. Develop empathy. We are more likely to show compassion if we have a better understanding of other people’s perspectives and experiences. Discuss the ways that characters from your favorite books and movies might have different opinions based on their unique backgrounds and situations. When your kids are studying history in school, encourage them to try to understand major events from as many viewpoints as possible. You can do this with current events as well.

5. Write a note of appreciation. Leave a kind message for the housekeeper at your hotel on the notepad by the bed. Have your kids add their own words of gratitude.

6. Serve others. Clean up trash at the park, gather athletic gear for needy kids, or serve food at a food kitchen as a family. Faith communities often have family service projects. If not, you could help get the ball rolling. For more ideas, try the HandsOn Network.

7. Make a micro-loan. Lend money to an entrepreneur in a developing country (or even your own) through Kiva. You can select the country, loan amount, and see the actual person who will receive your money. It feels great to know that your small investment is changing the lives of individuals and communities. Plus, your kids will improve their understanding of geography and global economics.

8. Send a homemade card to Grandma and Grandpa. It could be to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or for no particular reason at all. Most kids enjoy the arts and crafts elements of these projects, and grandparents love to receive them. Talk about the warm fuzzy feeling they’ll have when Grandma calls to say “thank you.”

9. Go green. Reduce, reuse, and recycle when possible. Discuss our role in the ecosystem. Explain that our actions have an impact on other living beings, and that some of these consequences may be felt for generations. When we care about what happens beyond our immediate circumstances, we are more compelled to act with kindness towards others.

10. Follow the leaders. Learn about historical figures famous for their devotion to the common good. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are excellent places to start. Talk about ways that you could bring their philosophies and actions into your own lives.


Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit


Doing What Must Be Done (Guest: Chad Hymas)

BTRadioIntListen in as Chad tells his story of dealing with life-changing circumstances. Much more than that, however, is the way he encourages us all to manage challenges of all kinds.


ChadHymasphotoAt some point most everyone has faced adversity in one form or another. But what about the sort of adversity that forever affects the remainder of one’s life, the bone-jarring kind of event or circumstance that challenges even one’s will to carry on? Even then, can adversity push us to become MORE that we ever imagined?

It seems so.

An accident on his ranch left young Chad Hymas paralyzed from the waist down with very limited use of his upper body. In this moving and fast-paced program, he will share the challenges he faced as his plans for himself and his family were changed in a heartbeat. But Chad will also share how his experiences opened new opportunities for him to serve and encourage others.

ChadHymasbookChad is a sought-after inspirational speaker and author of the book, Doing What Must Be Done. He travels as much as 300,000 miles a year sharing his special brand of encouragement and hope to audiences of all types worldwide. He is a world-class wheelchair athlete. In 2003, Chad set a world record by wheeling a personal marathon of over 500 miles from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. He’s also one of the youngest members ever to be inducted into the National Speakers Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame. (27:39)


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GRIT: The Breakfast of Champions (Dr. Daniel Trussell)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is considerable conversation about the need to address non-cognitive skills in our educational system and one of the most frequently mentioned non-cognitive skills is the acquisition of Grit. Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist and a preeminent researcher on Grit, describes this trait as high motivation or passion focused on a long term goal pursued with diligence and perseverance, despite the obstacles and even during times of boredom.

In their book Grit to Great, Thaler and Koval ascribe attributes of Grit with a clever acronym:


While the value of developing Grit has only recently been scientifically investigated, it is not a new concept. Indeed, Grit has been considered a desired trait and reinforced to children for centuries. Its resurgence in the educational system is part of an attempt to level the socioeconomic field by teaching success strategies to children as they move through the educational system.

Educational standardization, a product of the No Child Left Behind era which many now view as a drill and kill mentality for academic performance, is increasingly sharing space with developing empowerment and success through personal responsibility and free will. Grit, like success in life, is not tied to IQ, talents or socioeconomic status, but to a skill set that levels the playing field.

You Have to Fail to Succeed

The “you have to fail to succeed” attitude from parents and educational systems is gaining momentum as an integral part of creating an environment that fosters success as adults. Success requires diligence, perseverance and tenacity.

Duckworth asserts that talents, intellect and a strong supportive social and home environment are insufficient for long term success. A “Yes, I Can” approach goes a long way even when a child wants to throw in the towel.

Perseverance builds resilience, which helps us continue to pursue a difficult challenge. Suffering through a difficult challenge is not only inevitable but necessary for achieving success. Confusion, frustration and even feeling overwhelmed often come with the territory.

Tenacity keeps us on track toward a goal even through the tedious or boring aspects of reaching mastery. Langer has found that one component of high life satisfaction is openness to new experience. Creatively approaching a seemingly insurmountable barrier to a highly prized goal enhances the development of grit. Finding interesting or novel ways to approach a problem balances the suffering and builds resilience, persistence and self-discipline.

Wait Just a Minute!

While many parents and school systems have jumped on the bandwagon to support academic persistence over academic achievement, others are raising concern. Opponents argue that emphasizing non-cognitive skills like Grit in an educational system denounces creativity , reduces diversity of interests, teaches conformity without question and focuses on narrow behavioral expectations rather than motive or desire. Some assert that reinforcing Grit can lower well-being if a child is expected to persist toward an unattainable goal or a goal of which they have no interest.

While there is merit to each of these concerns, let’s look back to the Duckworth definition of grit. Grit is accessed when one is highly motivated or passionate about gaining mastery over a skill or reaching a long term goal.

Duckworth describes a household rule in a recent article called the “Hard Thing Rule.” Family members choose one hard thing and work deliberately and consistently toward mastery over the chosen skill or activity for a specified period of time. They don’t give up or stop midstream, even if they have become bored or experience feelings of being overwhelmed. After a specified time, like a semester or a year, the family member can reassess their level of interest and negotiate to stop pursuit if they no longer have interest in the activity.

As parents, we all want our children to grow into successful, productive contributing adults. The question remains whether reinforcing Grit belongs in the home, in the educational system or in a combination of both environments. ###

DTrussellbookDaniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS is author of The How Families Flourish Workbook and How Families Flourish. He is a certified Professional Counselor supervisor and conducts training for both professionals and families in incorporating the findings from positive psychology into daily life. He can be reached at [website]



When Behavior Becomes Desperate: Insights and Interventions (Guest: Dr. James Sutton)

BTRadioIntThreat and danger don’t even have to be real to be a problem. There are youngsters (adults, too) who, for any number reasons, live in a constant state of alert. Behaviors of others toward them, even something as mild as one step too many into their personal space, brings a reation that hardly fits the circumstance.

Because this behavior is based on survival and fueled by fear, typical responses and discipline easily can worsen subsequent behavior as it increases the perceived threat. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s difficult to stop. Exactly how do we negotiate with one’s need to survive?

Our guest on this program, The Changing Behavior Network’s founder and host, Dr. James Sutton, calls this Desperate Behavior, for that’s precisely what it is. Considering all of a school’s students, desperate behavior is rare. It occurs in only about 1-3% of the entire population, but it accounts for the majority of the problems, as well as the lingering misery of affected youngsters.

Since traditional approaches often fail, something different is needed, and that’s the focus of this program. It’s also addressed in Dr. Sutton’s newest book, The Changing Behavior Book.

A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expetise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. A former Special Education teacher, he is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio-style podcast supporting young people and their families. 23:58)

(Dr. Sutton has made an arrangement with the publisher for listeners to receive a FREE copy of his bestseller, 101 Ways to Make Your Classroom Special, when they order a copy of The Changing Behavior Book. For more information or to order, CLICK HERE and use the password supplied at the end of this program.)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Scared Justice: Fighting America’s War on Youth (Kenneth Johnson)

BTAboutThemAn eleven-year-old Florida student was handcuffed, taken to jail, and charged with a third-degree felony for having a plastic butter knife; a New York pre-K student is suspended for having too many bathroom accidents; a Mississippi student was arrested for breaking wind; a Tauton, Massachusetts second grader was suspended and forced to undergo a mental health evaluation for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross; a California student faces a judge on criminal charges of being tardy too many times; and a Baltimore, Maryland student risked suspension for nibbling on a Pop Tart in the shape of a gun. We see it all the time in the headlines. For those who are unaware, there’s a war in America that’s been going on for some time now.

KJohnsonphotoEvery year, we are arresting over 2 million students. Far more students are suspended and expelled. Studies have shown that a child’s chances of dropping out increases by 50% for every time (s)he is suspended out of school. Presently, some 7,000 students drop out each school day. Most of these suspensions, expulsions, and arrests take place just before standardized testing. The reason for this, scholars posit, is what’s being called the Test-to-Prison Pipeline (a variation of the older School-to-Prison Pipeline theory). Simply put, a child that is suspended/expelled or incarcerated cannot take the standardized test and therefore the overall test results will be higher. This is critical in states like Florida where a school’s funding is based on how well students do on these tests.

Most juvenile arrests in America today are predicated upon what criminologists call the “Super Predator Myth.” This myth was first postulated by Professor John DiIulio, Jr. as a research-based theory of juvenile crime. Later, his research was found to be fundamentally flawed in every conceivable way. However, Pandora’s Box had already been opened by this junk science theory. We became a nation fearful of our youth and with the wrong-headed notion the only way to keep them from turning into murderous thugs was to arrest and try them as adults for felony crimes.

Today in America, the prison system is such a booming business. Private prisons, like the Geo Group, publicly trade on the stock market. Most of America’s population of inmates first came into the criminal justice system by way of juvenile arrests. The primary reason that an incarcerated person leaves a juvenile detention facility is because they have reached the age of majority and now must be transferred to an adult prison to finish out the rest of their sentence.

Rather than being a nation of law and justice, we have turned to “scared justice” tactics where laws vary based upon a person’s income, race, age, and other factors. And, no place can this injustice be more finely felt than by our nation’s youth.


In the fields of Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, professionals and writers are now focusing a tremendous amount of time on pathways to engaging in difficult discussions. Each field of conflict study has its own thought leaders with their own ways of tackling this endeavor head-on. But why are we seemingly in need of such study and works?

Part of the problem is the manufacturing of fear in the public over juvenile crimes. One major culprit is our nation’s School Resource Officer program. The other player in this social malaise is Hollywood.

While SROs are used practically nation-wide, the data on their effectiveness is less than compelling. While their stated purpose is to safeguard the students, national crime data reveals they generally arrest students for innocuous offenses when traditional school-based disciplinary procedures would be more effective and beneficial. In protecting students from school violence and shootings, the data also reflects they generally are ineffective with them mostly arresting students on baseless charges.

One of the best publicly available arguments against SROs can be found in the Justice Policy Institute’s “Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools,” where it looks at the chronic failures, duties, dangers and case law surrounding SROs. For instance, in the Supreme Court case of J.B.D. vs North Carolina, involving a 13 year old student who was arrested without being read Miranda rights, the court found juveniles do not possess proper understanding to appreciate Miranda. Ultimately, the report delineates five ways to improve schools without needing SROs. These suggestions ranged from properly training and supporting staff on issues of behavioral disruptions to building quality relationships between staff and students.

Ironically, these suggestions are things which are best handled through Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice strategies. In my book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, I specifically addressed how using Peer Mediation with Circles, Panels, Conferences, and Justice Circles can create a community of care which improves classroom instruction, addresses behavioral issues, builds relationships, provides counseling options, and identifies issues early on in order to render SROs needless in schools. The JPI piece proposed using government funds to purchase varying national plans but, as I note in my book, effective strategies already exist in the public domain.

Hollywood is also just as guilty of culpable harm. Specifically, shows like “Beyond Scared Straight” perpetuate a myth while fostering practices proven to actually harm children as bad, if not sometimes worse, than what SROs do by arresting children needlessly.

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “A study by Anthony Petrosino and researchers at the Campbell Collaboration analyzed results from nine Scared Straight programs and found that such programs generally increased crime up to 28 percent in the experimental group when compared to a no-treatment control group. In another analysis of juvenile prevention and treatment programs, Mark Lipsey of the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies found that youth who participate in Scared Straight and other similar deterrence programs have higher recidivism rates than youth in control groups. And a report presented in 1997 to the U.S. Congress reviewed more than 500 crime prevention evaluations and placed Scared Straight programs in the “what does not work” category. Despite these findings, Scared Straight programs continue to be used throughout the United States and abroad.”

Again, the OJJDP focused on the very same solutions which the JPI looked at. Naturally, like with the JPI, the OJJDP urged for costly programs to be employed by schools and communities. However, like I stated before, effective Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice solutions are already in the public domain and used daily by trained and certified professionals.

A common saying, “A leopard can’t change its spots,” is often used in reference to criminals. The meaning behind this is that a child who does wrong actions now will only do worse actions later as an adult – a flawed line of logic at best. I say, “If you paint spots on a lion cub, it doesn’t make it a leopard.” Ultimately, I contend that officials are making children out to be worse than they are. In fact, most, if they were given a little extra attention, could become tremendous benefits to society as adults.

Research has come forth saying that children are facing massive issues with underemployment by their parents, broken homes where they may have only an extended family member at best to serve as guardian over them, domestic violence in the home, substance abuse in the home, untreated illnesses, lack of proper nutrition, homelessness, child neglect, and sexual molestation to name a few. In fact, where I live, homeless kids have coined the term “couch surfing” to refer to how they spend their nights sleeping on the couches of friends, relatives, or anyone else that would take them in for the night. These are the children that our schools seemingly target.

What’s more troubling is that the children actually suffer more once they are incarcerated. This is because most states exempt juvenile detention officers from state child abuse and child neglect laws. In Florida, which is a top arrester of youths in America with over 58,000 arrested per year, a number of detention facilities have recently gone under review for children being allowed to die in front of guards without any call for help, children being sexually molested by staff, unnecessary beatings, and the list goes on and on.

There is a solution to this social justice dilemma. The crux of the problem is that the community must become engaged and press for resolve since schools and law enforcement refuse to take responsibility with this issue. This is a hard discussion topic for a society where many trappings of the traditional community are gone due to our nomadic existence and where the media colors our understanding of reality with sensationalized stories and filtered-out stories. This makes collaboration between nonprofits and religious institutions , on this issue, all the more critical for lasting change to take place since these are the unsung heroes doing most of the unseen social justice work in this nation.


I suggest that interested stakeholders in the community, as well as Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice professionals and advocates, agree to assemble at a neutral venue and break bread to talk about the problems facing their community. After all, this is how America got started! Once the problems have been stated, then the community should evaluate resources that each group can bring to the table. Since I pretty much wrote the book on this issue, here are some suggestions that I would make for consideration:

Have the school district do away with SROs. There’s simply no need for them. National statistics show time and time again juveniles make up less than 1% of the violent crimes committed in America. These are officers that can be put out on the streets to arrest real criminals, direct traffic, or engage in a number of social benefits inherent to law enforcement.

Have the school engage in Restorative Justice (RJ) and Peer Mediation practices. RJ has been proven far more effective on juveniles than any other group at reducing recidivism and also making lasting, positive behavioral changes. By the same token, peer mediation has been proven effective in handling issues typically tying up vital time normally handled needlessly by teachers. A good program should be a balance of daily circles, peer mediation, and conferencing.

Creating a peer counseling corps can offer critical support and assistance for students in needs. Like peer mediators, peer counselors are trained by professionals in the field and given similar skill sets as adult professionals in the field use in their own practices.

Establish a Neighborhood Restorative Justice Center (NRJC) as a deferment option should a child still end up in the court system. In many states, like Florida, there are already laws on the books allowing this sort of deferment but officials refuse to establish these centers. An NRJC, created by the community, allows the student that final, yet critical, opportunity to seek out atonement for their actions and to seek the help that they need.

There’s no other way to put it other than to say America’s war on youth is a national scandal. However, if handled properly, the communities around America have an opportunity to make a significant impact on the overcrowding of prisons, increasing tax revenues, increasing productivity, and re-engaging the “American dream” which has historically been our driving force in becoming a superpower in the global marketplace.###

Ken Johnson is a private researcher, writer, lecturer, and consultant on issues of culture and conflict. Organizational architecture and anabolic (positive) conflict are just some of the key issues he investigates. Though written for the school system, his book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, has core concepts which can be applied to various life applications. To learn more about Ken and his work, CLICK HERE to visit his website.



Children, Teens and Sleep (Guest: Dr. Robert Rosenberg)

BTRadioIntAs important as a good night’s rest is to all of us, it would be easy to underestimate the value of sleep in our lives. According to the National Center for Disease Control, however, 50-70 million Americans with sleep disorders clearly indicate how  difficulty with sleep can lead to serious problems with vitality, productivity and overall health.

RRosenbergphotoPut another way, we need sufficient restorative sleep in order to survive and succeed.

What about the sleep needs of children and teens? What affects their sleep and what are the signs and symptoms that a youngster is sleep-deficient and struggling? Are children and teens with sleep issues ever misdiagnosed or mismanaged as having another physical, behavioral or emotional condition? How do we effectively identify, treat and manage sleep concerns in children and teens? Our guest on this program, physician, nationally-recognized sleep expert and author, Dr. Robert Rosenberg, will offer straight-talk insights and answers to these sleep questions and more.

RRosenbergbookDr. Rosenberg is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine. For the past two decades his practice has been limited exclusively to sleep medicine. Dr. Rosenberg is Medical Director of The Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley in Arizona. His advice has appeared in columns and blogs of many popular magazines such as “O, The Oprah Magazine,” “Woman’s World,” “Prevention,” “Parenting” and “Ladies Home Journal,” among others. In addition his many appearances on television and radio, he hosts his own radio show, “Answers for Sleep” on In this program we’re featuring his very popular book, Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A Doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems. (27:50)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


The Power of Dadhood (Interview with author Col. Michael Smith)

BTSpotlightIt’s not unusual for a book to have a back story. Sometimes it’s told; sometimes not, but often that story is the driving force behind a book. I’m betting Mike’s story will warm your heart as it did mine. We were fortunate to have this opportunity to visit with Mike and learn of the circumstances and events that influenced his growth and, eventually, his excellent book. –JDS


Mike, in your book you talk about the struggles you and your family experienced when there was no father in the home. Did these experiences have an impact on the writing of The Power of Dadhood?


MSmithphotoExtremely so! Every child is impacted differently when they are raised in a dysfunctional home. It could be anything from mental struggles or out-of-control behavior to excessive shyness. I think our family experienced the entire spectrum. Beyond the social inadequacies and lack of direction that are inevitable, there are special experiences that happen too infrequently–of togetherness, loving moments, and memories of happiness.

As my siblings and I grew into adults, I could see the dysfunction continuing into the next generation for too many of us. There wasn’t a model of effective parenting to follow, nor were there the tools of a proper education, moral direction or mentorship.

The troubles my siblings found themselves in were predictable. That’s when I decided that the prevention was a much better way to handle social problems than correction. Most social issues are the result of father absent homes. I wrote The Power of Dadhood to teach fathers what they can do to avoid the pitfalls children can plunge into if not mentored by loving and knowledgeable parents.


Did you write the book from a collection of thoughts and ideas that had been “brewing” over a long period of time, or did the theme and direction of the book come together fairly quickly?


It was a slow process. Over time, I saw the consequences of a disengaged father lasting into adulthood and into the next generation. Already my grandnephews were fathering children in their teens without solid educations or relationships. What could I do? My original thought was to write about being an involved father to pass on to my extended family and their children. I couldn’t make them read it, but I could write it in hopes that they would.

MSmithbookPrior to being a book, my fathering project began as a collection of thoughts, ideas, things that worked as parents for me and for my wife, Kathy. Kathy taught me so much from her work as parent educator specializing in mentoring young teen parents. I also read many parenting books and although there was so much useful information in these books, I realized that most young men would never pick them up. If they ever tried to read them, they would likely not connect because of the often academic or complex language. From that, and all the years of work I was putting into this as part-time endeavor, I thought a simplified parenting book could be useful to others beyond my family. I stepped up my goal to write a book written in simple terms to encourage and teach fathers how to be dads. I focused on fathers for two reasons. Fathers are usually the missing or uninvolved parent and I was a father myself.


Did you have a sense of closure when the book was finished? If so, tell us about it.


The closure comes so slowly. The joy of the accomplishment is like icing a cake more than popping a champaign cork, sweet but not dramatic. Seeing the physical book, however, was a thrill! But the real closure is not the finished book. The real closure is getting the book out to those who could use its advice. I’m still working on that one!


In spite of the difficulties you experienced in your early years, Mike, you graduated college, became a pilot in the Air Force where you achieved the rank of full colonel, and you had a successful career as a civilian engineer. None of that happened by accident. A lot of kids in similar circumstances would have given up under a ton of excuses; you didn’t. How do you account for how it turned out for you?


I think I was lucky to have a dream and a goal. My dream was to be a pilot. My goal was not to live how I had been raised. My mother was so very supportive, but all she could do with little education and six mouths to feed was to encourage and love me. My dad was the foundation that was missing. He never invested in his family but he still had emotional influence.

My success was not without a lot of pain, mostly self-inflicted. My obstacles were the pain of competing without confidence, and a feeling of being an outsider among others who seemed to have their act together. I made many mistakes but saving characteristic was to keep moving towards my goals. My hard work and persistence allowed me to get a full academic scholarship to a great university which was the help I needed.

I often tell young people without means to study hard and get good grades, and scholarships will be available. The answer I often get is, “Not everyone is like you Mike!” I don’t know understand that excuse! I am not special in any way other than having a dream and accepting the struggle to get there. Don’t be afraid of struggle. It is the badge of honor when earned success comes to you.


What would be the greatest compliment someone could pay you on The Power of Dadhood?


To hear these words: “I have learned and been encouraged so much from your book, and I will keep it by my bedside as my children grow.”


What advice would you offer young people today, especially those that are struggling?


It’s important to accept that you must take the incentive to find answers to your struggles. People, books, and actionable steps are there for you if you choose to look for and accept them. My book for dads is one of the countless tools that are out there to help. People help others who are helping themselves. As an example, let’s say you run out of gas while driving. When you are pushing your car to a nearby gas station, others will come help you push. But if you sit in your car by the side of the road, you will not get anywhere soon.


How is retirement going? What are you doing today, and what new projects are there for Michael Smith?


Retirement is great! It has allowed me to wrap up my many years of work on this book as a rookie author. I have time for grandchildren and a flexible schedule. I am, however, busier than ever as I take on things I never would have had I been working. My wife and I have traveled quite a bit. I have done a lot of work on my second home, a farmhouse in Missouri wine country, and we watch grandkids two days a week. The only downside having written this book, and it is a small one, is that it is always in the back of my head. I’m constantly looking for ways to make it known, and working with the Changing Behavior Network has been one of the joys. But promotion is difficult, time consuming, and it can be very expensive per book sold. I doubt I will ever have a monetary return but that was never the goal. If I could get 10,000 copies out there and not lose a small fortune, I would be a very happy man!


In addition to being a retired Air Force pilot and the author of the new book, The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, Col. Michael Smith is a husband, father and grandfather dedicated to helping fathers to be present and involved dads through his blog, “Helping Fathers to be Dads.” [website]



A Parent’s Death: A Child’s Grief, Part Two (Guest: Judy Strong)

BTRadioIntThe circle of especially close adults in a youngster’s life is small. A loss in that circle, especially a parent, can be a traumatizing event for any child or teen.

phpiih9e9PMAlthough grieving the loss of a parent or parental figure is a normal process, the process doesn’t always go smoothly for some youngsters. It helps to help.

One in twenty children will lose a parent before their senior year in high school. That figure should grab our attention. What would be some signs that a youngster is struggling in their grief? What can we do with and for a grieving child that would help them achieve closure and healing on such a loss?

A Child's Grief CoverOur guest on this program, Judy Strong, a Certified Grief and Loss Facilitator, knows this topic well and shares not only her insights and expertise, but of her first-hand experience involving her own children.

Judy is an award-winning author and a popular speaker on the topic of loss and healing, and she’s the founder of Survive Strong Resources out of Arizona. She is the author of the books, No Time to Grieve: A Survivor’s Guide to Loss and Healing and A Child’s Grief: Surviving the Death of a Parent. (23:39)

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