How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

Being a parent is hard, and it doesn’t come with a handbook. If you find yourself fighting with your kids and feeling frustrated by them, Katherine Winter-Sellery offers some effective strategies you can use to help you bring harmony to your home.

Katherine’s next Guidance Approach to Parenting class begins September 28th, and she is offering a special discount to Distraction listeners! Save 20% with the promo code: DrNed20. Click HERE for more information.

To download a copy of the free e-book, 7 Strategies to Keep Your Relationship with Your Kids from Hitting the Boiling Point, go to ConsciousParentingRevolution.com.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write and email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Glad to be with you again. We’re all aware of how much life has changed since this pandemic started. And with everyone staying at home more, there of course will be disagreements and conflicts in your household particularly if you have kids. My guest today is here to help. Isn’t that great, we always bring people in who can help. Her name is Katherine Winter-Sellery, and she’s taught thousands of parents as well as executives about how to be better communicators. She joins me today to help us all maintain harmony in our homes and our relationships. Catherine, welcome to Distraction.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to be with you today. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Tell me, how did you get into this area of working with parents and their kids?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I started, well, literally 30 years ago, more or less close to 31 years ago. I’d studied Chinese and speak Chinese and was working as a commodities trader, running a firm in Hong Kong trading commodities. And then I started having kids and my husband is an architect. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you have ADD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not diagnosed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll bet you do most commodities, and your life story, anyway-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I wouldn’t be surprised.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, so there you are speaking Chinese, trading commodities [crosstalk 00:02:22]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I’m sure there’s so many undiagnosed out there. Oh my gosh.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Totally.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So there you are speaking Chinese trading commodities and you started having children-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And started having children. And we had a son and here we were very successful professionals who were complete dear in headlights when it came to like, Oh my gosh, what do we do? A discipline issue would show up and I didn’t have a method to approach conflict resolution or coach for better behaviors. Other than that, tried and tested and failed from my perspective at least, rewards and punishment thing. So I became a student of conflict resolution. I’d also gone to law school. So I had a natural interest in that. And I just became passionate about communication in families and ecosystems and developing ways to create change in behavior without doing it and paying such a high price for it, which you do. You pay a high price when you use a heavy hand that that makes someone feel ashamed of their behavior rather than it’s a teachable moment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. So you developed this method over a few years I gather and tell us about it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, it’s actually over like decades. I started with Dr. Thomas Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training and became, I found that course and took it over and over and over again, and finally became actually a trainer for them. And then I studied with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication and the father of restorative justice in American prison systems. And I sat at his feet and just took every word in and made it, it just became my passion.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
His name was John Rosenberg?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
No, it’s Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. Okay. And what kind of doctor is he?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is a doctor of psychology. He was the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, CNVC.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. That’s great. And he’s a psychologist, he’s a PhD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is, yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. [inaudible 00:04:40] To look him up. Restorative justice [crosstalk 00:04:42]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally, restorative justice in the American prison system was all because of Marshall.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. So what brought you to him?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, life is such a… you meet somebody, you meet somebody, and I was at a conference in Brisbane and I was there with the Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia who I’d received some certifications to train under their banner. And there was a conference and the woman speaking at the conference was the author of a book called Children are People Too. Her name is Dr. Louise Porter and she was the keynote. And I literally hung on every word that came out of her mouth. And I strategically positioned myself at the dinner next, I got to sit next to her. And it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And she gave me her book and she and I began a conversation because she had some ways of looking at communication that were different than Gordon. And I wrote to her after reading her book and said, “Wow, are you sure about this?” And she said, “I’m pretty sure I’m happy to have a discourse.” So that became a really interesting, we became pen pals, looking at some of the techniques around communication and connection. And the thing that she brought to my attention that was so powerful is that when you say to anyone, “I feel so upset when you don’t clean up the kitchen.” That there’s a lot of blame that the feeling that I’m experiencing was because of their action. And we all know other people don’t make us feel the way we do. That we can’t blame other people for our feelings. And it opened my mind to how deeply embedded, and it was actually something that I guess became much more nuanced for my own ability to communicate honestly, and not blame other people for the feelings that were coming up in me, but yet to want to talk about their behavior.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
So this just took me to a whole another level and she introduced, she came to Hong Kong. I brought her there as an expert speaker at my children’s school. And she saw that I had a book called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, which I had gotten at that event, that conference where I’d met her. And she said, “Have you read it?” And I said, “I haven’t yet.” “Oh, that was the best book I read last year.” So I feverishly read it and fell in love with yet another gem. And the gem in that moment was that I chose how I heard you. I get to choose how I hear you. Not just, I get to choose how I communicate, but I get to also choose how I hear what’s being communicated. And that just opened my mind, that I actually have a choice about how I hear other people. And all of this in the end over many, many, many, many years, eventually Louise and I created a program together with another colleague that I had been teaching with at the time. And that’s the course that I’ve been running now for 12 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s called Conscious Parenting?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It is. It’s the guidance approach to parenting. And it is part of this conscious parenting revolution that I’m just, it’s become sort of my reason to get up every day and make a contribution, is that families hurt and misunderstandings create breakdowns. And the people we care the most about, sometimes we find ourselves in such a difficult position, we’re not connected, we don’t have the warmth that we wish we had or that we had when they were maybe little and somehow it’s been lost along the way. And I know it breaks people’s hearts.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, it does. If people want to read about it, learn about it, where would a listener go to learn about this? Is there a website?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. consciousparentingrevolution.com is the website. And I have a free ebook, which people can take and digest, and it has strategies. And I have blogs as well that people can just enjoy, every week I put a new blog up and it just starts the healing process. Everybody wants healing and they want to create that connection that just makes all the difference. It’s why we have children. It’s to have that beautiful deep connection where we feel so much a part of each other’s lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, the people who would go or people who are having conflict in the family and they’ve drifted away from their children, something like that?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a whole variety of clients, if you will. There’s everything from the, my kids are really young and I don’t want to get it wrong. And so I’m looking for some support. It’s one of the only things in the world that we do without training, if you will.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The biggest job on the planet is parenting. And so very few people actually go in prepared and accidentally they develop resentment flows. So retaliation, rebellion and resistance, it’s called the three Rs. And they are what happens in relationships. And if you can start by not creating the three Rs and the resentment flows, wonderful. And if you’ve done it and you didn’t even realize it was because of the way that you were parenting, and you thought that you just had kids that were disrespectful or didn’t pay attention or never listened to you, or didn’t cooperate, then it might actually not be about them. It could be that they’re in reaction and you can change the whole thing by changing how you’re approaching conflict resolution.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you used a term that I’ve never heard before. What’s a resentment flow?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
A resentment flow is also a secondary problem. Let’s take a simple example where you’re asking a young child to pick up their toys and help you clean the table off to get set it for dinner. And they ignore you, and you ask them again and they ignore you. And then you start saying things like, “If you don’t do as I’ve asked, no dessert.” And they say something like, “I don’t even like that stupid dessert.” And then you say, “All right, if you don’t help me out, no TV.” And you just keep upping it. And that finally ends with them running upstairs, slamming the door and saying, “I hate you daddy. Or I hate you mommy.” That’s a resentment flow.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a resentment flow. Why don’t you just call it an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Because, well, I guess you could call it an argument. The resentment is that it starts to damage the relationship because they’re resentful of way that you spoke to them. And you’re resentful of the lack of communication or the lack of support or the lack of harmony or the lack of them doing what you wanted them to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there something specific about a resentment flow that distinguishes it from an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, I think the key here is whether it stays past that moment, if it stays beyond, like we just had a disagreement, everything is fine, but when they run upstairs and slam the door and say, “I hate you.” And then you impose the punishment that you said you were going to do, “No TV for a week.” Then not only do they hate you in the moment, but it goes on and on and on. And ultimately the thing was about getting the table tidied, and now we’re so far away from what’s called the primary issue, and everything is now about the secondary issue, which is how I feel about my mom or dad, because they don’t get me. And all they ever do is demand that I do this demand that I do that. And they never see it from my side. They don’t even understand me. It’s a breakdown.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Walk us through that scene, doing it the way a conscious parent, who had done the revolution-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Would do?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, how would she do it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Okay. So when a child says no to you, a conscious parent looks at the no as a yes to something inside of themself. So, I get curious about when they’re saying no to me and not doing as I was hoping that they would do, why are they doing that? What’s going on inside of them that’s getting in the way of them doing what I was hoping that they would do? I then shift from repeating my side over and over and over again, what I want. And I shift to wondering about what’s going on for them. So it would go something like this. My daughter’s name is Pear. “Pear, it seems like you’re really involved in something on this table with all your toys. And I was hoping that you could tidy it up, but because I see that you’re really into this and you can’t even take my side into consideration. I’m wondering, are you worried that the way you’ve got it set up right now, if we move it, it’s going to wreck your game?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And then I would probably get, “Yeah.” I mean, “I got everything set up just the way I want it. And if we move it, it ruins my game.” “Oh, I see. So you’re trying to figure out how to do what you want to do and you can’t figure out how to do that and also do what I want you to do?” “No, mom, it’s like, you always get your way and I never get mine.” “Oh, I see. So you just feel like, I just want you to do what I want you to do, and I’m not ever thinking about what’s important to you?” “Right. You just want me to do what you want.” “Oh, okay. Well actually that’s not what I want. I want your needs to be met and my needs to be met. What do you think we can do so that both of our needs could be met here?” “I don’t know. I don’t have any idea. What do you think I could do? I don’t know. Mom, what do you think?” “Well, I mean, I have a couple of ideas. If I take a picture and we move everything and then set it up, we could use the picture to help us figure out what to, and how to set it up. That’s one thought, what do you think about that?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
“Well, I guess we could do that. Or there’s that cardboard box in the garage. Maybe we could just place everything in the box and then I can just move it around the house.” “Well, that would work too.” And then we just kind of go into the problem solving. So we stay on the issue at hand, which is that I just wanted to get the table cleared and the resistance to that wasn’t disobedient or disrespectful or any of those kinds of things. It was someone not being able to figure out how to meet their needs and my needs at the same time. So children are people too. And if we begin to look at resistance as not as defiance, but as there’s something in them that is getting in the way or blocking their ability to cooperate. And as long as there are no built up resentment flows, it’s as simple as they can’t figure out how to meet my needs and their needs at the same time. And so it’s really easy for us to figure out ways to problem solve collaboratively.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just have such a inner bristle to jargon, but okay, I’ll go with resentment flows. Because what [crosstalk 00:16:17]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, actually it’s interesting that that’s, Thomas Gordon was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times based on his research regarding resentment flows. And so what Gordon discovered is that when you use a controlling form of discipline and you demand that a child do something, and then you punish if they don’t, what you generate is a resentment flow. And that appears as retaliation, rebellion and resistance. So the three Rs and the research around that is what gave him the nomination.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I get it. And it’s brilliant. And it’s wonderful. I just hate jargon. But resentment flow, fine. He’s introduced the term and used it eloquently. I’d never heard it before. And I always balk at jargon. I would say, why not just put it in plain English, but I think we can all identify with the resentment flow, know what it is, and certainly work around it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What you were saying reminds me a little bit of Ross Greene and collaborative problem solving, do you think there’s an overlap there or not?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, for sure. I mean, there’s so many collaborative problem solving models.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. The spirit is very much the same.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s wonderful. It’s really wonderful. And you have courses on it or how does it work?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, no, I do have courses. I’m in a course right now and I’ve S I’ve literally taught thousands of people over decades, where up until now I would be running courses in schools to parent communities in person. And with the sort of advent of the new world, I just transitioned to doing this online. And I have a group that I’m taking through the process now, and I have another group starting September 28th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how long does it take? So if a listener said, boy, I really want to learn how to do this. It sounds so freeing getting out of struggles with my kids. What would they do? They’d sign up for-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
They can sign up, my initial course is a 90 day parenting reset. And so over the course of three months, we do a coaching call every week that I do online with my group. And then every week I also give them pre-recorded sort of lesson with worksheets for them to not just understand it conceptually, but begin to land it in the way they’re changing and shifting their behavior. So, it’s a period of three months where we begin to actually take on the underlying beliefs that get in the way of looking at children as people too. There’s some shifts that have to happen around our beliefs about children should be obedient and compliant. They should do as they’re told there’s something actually around parents not generally looking as their children’s right for autonomy, for example, should be honored because they’re children and they have no right to autonomy, but actually everyone has the need for autonomy, including children. So some of our beliefs about children are getting in the way of actually truly being with them like we would any other human being.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, indeed. Having raised three of them, early on we treated them as autonomous beings and they were wonderful. They’re three very happy adults now. In fact, similar to you when we started having kids, I realized here I am a Harvard trained child psychiatrist and I know nothing about how to raise children and particularly about how to instill joy. I was an expert on misery. I knew a lot about misery, but I didn’t know much about how to instill joy. So I did research and I wrote a book called, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and of my 20 books. It’s my favorite one. It really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Wow!

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s the manual that we use to raising our kids, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. And you’re so right. How you treat them really matters and to get into what you call resentment flow. I just call the big struggle and so many families, they just live in the big struggle and it’s damaging on both sides. So if someone wanted to take your course, they go to consciousparentingrevolution.com?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, they do. And actually, I think I had it in the show notes, or I spoke to Sarah about it that I would give your audience a 20% discount so that there’s some appreciation to you for having me on and that they get to benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what is the fee?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The fee is 497. And so a 20% discount, I think puts it at 397 or something like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Something like that. Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s for the 12 week course, and it’s truly amazing value. So, it’s really a lot of hands on support over the course of 12 weeks and the gems, the gems from my own experience over 20 years, starting at the beginning, really it’s been longer than that because our son is 25 and he was two. When I started down the journey of recognizing that, how I’m being with regard to sorting out problems, mediation, working together with one soul to another in moving forward to resolve an issue, it’s no different with children than it is with adults. And if I have demand language, I’m going to activate the three Rs, if I have consideration for their needs and I model it, then they are naturally considerate of my needs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s just about modeling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s such a beautiful concept. And if they sign up for the course, it’ll be online and how many others are in the course?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a group right now of 17, so it’s a very intimate group.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it allows for everybody to learn on Monday when the module is dropped in and they can listen to it as often as they want. A lot of the information it’s the first time they’ve heard about it. I do a whole unit on self-esteem for example, and how we have probably grown up where our worth has somehow been confused with our competence, and breaking that so that children have a sense of feeling worthy, whether they’re good at baseball, whether they excel at tennis, whether they got an A on the test, de-linking competence from self-worth and just all these ways in which we accidentally, and I do think it’s accidental, no one intends to link someone’s competence to their worthiness. And yet when we’re trying to get our kids to be capable and competent, that message somehow does get communicated, that they love me if I’m good at this and they’re not so happy with me if I’m not. And my love and belonging is linked somehow to my capacity to be good at Chemistry or excel at Biology, or be a star on the tennis team.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do you break that? How do you-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
How do you break that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, you create the ecosystem in your family where the sense of love and belonging, I love you worths and all, I love you, you have to be intentional about it. You have to be languaging, my love for you doesn’t matter. And also break the habit of rewarding the wanted behaviors, because we can’t just give the, let’s go out and celebrate and have an ice cream only if they do the level of performance that we wanted. Let’s go out and have an ice cream if you failed, because I just want to be with you and let you know that I know how hard this is and how disappointing. And I can imagine this is a real struggle for you right now. And let’s go do something that’s enjoyable and fun together, and let’s have a chuckle and a laugh over it. Let’s be there for our kids in all the ways that we think when we’re behavioralists that we only reward the behaviors that we want so we get more of them.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Let’s break out of that mold completely and stop treating our children like their dogs. And we just give them a treat when they’re good so we get more good behavior and we give them a little smack on the bottom when they’re bad, so that they never do that again. That whole world doesn’t work.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right now. Of course, it doesn’t. And how do you counter the messages that society puts out? That you’re only as good as your most recent triumph?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you have to be intentional. You have to be intentional and you have to have the conversations at the dinner table, and you have to have the conversations in the car, and you have to have the conversations every time you see their little faces sink, because they are in the world of external locus of causality. They’re out there comparing themselves to others. They’re out there thinking that if little Johnny next door is better at this than I am, then somehow they’re more worthy than me. So, it has to be languaged. It can’t just be assumed. We have to know how to sit down with our children and say, “I can see you’re really upset and that it’s hard for you to celebrate with other people’s successes,” because somehow we don’t know where the languaging came and the message was delivered, that you look to other people to determine whether you’re worthy or not. We need to stop that, in our family, we’re going to put up big signs that say, “It’s acceptable to fail here.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
We’re going to put up big signs that say, “If you didn’t make a mistake, you’re not learning.” We’re going to try to overcome the messaging of society, every single turn of the corner, so that the children and our family know that it’s not about that. And that this is not whether, they do well or not. It’s that no matter how they do, how are we with each other and how are you with yourself?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like the line from the poem, “If.” It’s written on the tunnel heading to the center court at Wimbledon, it goes, “If you can look at triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters, just the same.”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I think it’s, [crosstalk 00:28:45] Yeah. I mean, it’s a wonderful lesson to learn young. I’ve always said to my kids just, “It’s the love of the game. The victories and the defeats are part of the game. And so, as long as you love the game, you win, that’s the victory in life is finding a love of the game.” And just what you were saying, these poor kids think they’re worthless if they’re not number one, and I call it the great Harvard fallacy, that if I can get into Harvard, then I’ve got it made. And if I don’t, then I’m a second rate. And the kind of, well, just what you’re saying. And I think you’re so right. You have to consciously and deliberately oppose that because society is sending out constant messages of, you’re only as good as your-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
GPA?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, exactly. And then-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s heartbreaking. I mean, it’s so heartbreaking as you and I both know in Hong Kong, it has the largest or the highest suicide rate among young women in the world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh boy.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And there’s so much pressure on these kids that if they don’t, it’s a very, I’m going to call it, I hope I don’t get in trouble draconian educational style, and it’s very much achievement oriented. It doesn’t celebrate all kinds of brains. It just celebrates a very linear, sequential, achieving scientific brain. And for the creative child that thinks out of the box and doesn’t fit into that mold and is definitely not going to do well in that system. There’s a sense of them being made to believe that they’re not as good as other people, that there’s something wrong. And not only that, they’re losing face for the whole family. It’s bringing shame to the whole clan.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup. And they’re my ADD guys, and they’re going to change the world for the better if they’re not broken through the educational system. And the Chinese are catching on. They want us to come over and teach them divergent thinking. They want us to come over and teach them creativity. And they don’t realize that they’re regimented system literally beats the creativity out of these kids.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. I went to teach it, Hong Jo University in 1983, and I was young. I just graduated and I get to [Hong Jo 00:31:14] And they say to me, “What we really want you to do is teach them how to think.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And I thought, wow. I don’t even know where to begin. And that’s such a part of the American education in so many ways. I think it may still be one of the strengths, is there’s a round table where you do, do a lot of just conversation and thinking, thinking, thinking, and brainstorming. And that is a really beautiful way to just open your mind to possibilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. I mean, that’s what… I went to a high school at a school called Exeter in New Hampshire and all it was a boarding school and all of the classes were taught at round tables and it was all Socratic. So it was all about open-ended questions. And you were always imaginatively engaged. Is the opposite of drilling and memorizing. And I saw the value of this. I consulted for a few years to the Harvard Chemistry Department because they had a bunch of suicides there. And one of the things I learned during my time there, they get the best applicants from around the world. They have five Nobel Prize Winners on the faculty. In every year a new crop, and it’s a big department, over a thousand postdocs and graduate students. And every year a new crop arrives in Cambridge and the mandate is go into the lab and discover new knowledge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, one group runs into the lab just eager to mix chemicals and blow up the building, but the other group freezes up and says, “No, you’ve got to tell me what to do. I’ll do anything you want. I’ll run your experiments all night if you want me to, but you have to tell me what to do.” And that’s the group that basically had their imagination snuffed out back around fifth grade when they got the message that do exactly what you’re told. And if you do that, then you will succeed. And it’s just tragic because what you really need in life, as you know as well as I do is the ability to take initiative, is the ability to come up with new ideas, is the ability to, I call it play, and this doctrinaire system just doesn’t allow for that, does it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s just so sad. And I hear you so deeply that it’s truly this mind boggling turning of the ship, turning of the Titanic and moving into territory where it’s not as measurable, and therefore it’s scary. And there’s also some reality check around children and their brilliance. Isn’t because of, I don’t know. I mean, I have no research for this. It’s not because of learning the three, reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s opening up the mind to allow for the access to that big magic, where all of it is out there for discovery and the more we’re free to make mistakes, the more we’re free to discover and create. And this is, to me, what gets me so excited, is to find the ones that are willing to risk.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. You have to be given permission. You have to know that it’s safe to fail.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Success has made a failure as you know and if you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything new.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Absolutely. Marshall used to say, “Until your children know that they can say no to you, then they can’t say yes.?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s so true, and mean it. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And mean it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. That there’s actually the fabric, the ecosystem that’s been created in the family system that allows for you to say no. And I even extend that a little bit further to the school systems where if you have that authoritarian model again, there’s only one thing that you get to say, and that is, “Sure, okay, I’ll do what you tell me to.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes sir. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And this, again, gets in the way of that beautiful autonomous aspect and nature to the human being even the young ones, where they have within themselves, some dignity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I remember there was a kid that I got to work with for a while. And he was just always in trouble. And it was a very prestigious Hong Kong family going to the best school. And every day they would walk into the classroom and he was told, “Now, take off your backpack and hang it over here on the hook. And be sure to get that book out and put it on your table.” And he wouldn’t do any of it. And he was just so in reaction to all of this control, and he would just say to me, “If they’re going to treat me like a baby, I’m going to act like one.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He says to me, “As if I don’t know where to hang my bag.” And he says, “As if I don’t know to take the book out, I mean, seriously?” And I just thought, part of me was just like the dead poet’s society. I wanted him to stand on a chair and just go, “Yeah.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And the parents said to me, “What’s wrong with him” And I said, “There’s nothing wrong with him, but there’s something wrong with this school you have him in.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Because it’s the prestigious school and La, La, La and I was just like, “Make choices.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Do you want to a child who will be a person who can take initiative and use his imagination or do you want to have a robot?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, honestly, what’s going on in Hong Kong right now. I mean, really just the robot will be fine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Well, Katherine, you are wonderful. You really are. I can’t thank you enough for coming on. And-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
This has been so fun. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to say it again. Katherine Winter-Sellery, and her website is consciousparentingrevolution.com. You can get her free ebook there. Seven strategies to keep your relationship with your kids from hitting the boiling point. And I can tell you for sure, just talking to her in this interview, she’s spot on. She knows what she’s doing. She’s been trained by the best people and she’s been a serious student and she’s got decades of experience. And my gosh, it’s a deal to take her course. If you’re a parent and if you’re having some struggles as most parents do, there is a rational way out of it that’ll be good for both of you, not just your kids, but for you, because you don’t like struggling with your kids any more than your kids like it. And if you’re not careful, it takes on a life of its own.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And as Katherine says, it becomes part of your culture, part of your family culture. And you don’t want that. The good news is, you can change it. You have to be deliberate, but you can change it. And she will show you how, and I can tell just to, I’m looking at her picture now and hearing her, she’ll tell you how in a very warm and a helpful way, she’s not going to sit there and tell you what to do, but she’ll suggest what you might do. And there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference there. So, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, get the free ebook, sign up for the course with a 20% discount. And my gosh, that’s so modestly priced. I mean, if I were a parent, I’d take advantage of it right away. And the next course starts September 28th, you said?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, it does. Yeah. And it is, it’s priced for access. So that, I’m about the revolution. I’m about giving parents the skills that they need to change their family’s systems if they need to, if there’s resentment, clean it up, and to also be able to go back to that school and say, “I’m actually not okay with this approach. Would you be willing to hear me out?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not in an aggressive way, because that doesn’t get us anywhere, but in a really sort of open-hearted. “I’m in discovery. Would you go down the road with me?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Well, “Wouldn’t you like to learn something new?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. Just that Mr. Rogers neighborhood kind of thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It really is about supporting everybody in learning how to manage their emotions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It sure is.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And when kids are under threat and they can’t meet their needs and they’re falling apart, I call it drowning, and they don’t know how to drown politely just like the rest of us. So let’s not get so hung up on how people drown and let’s get really connected to what the needs are that they’re not able to meet underneath it. And if we start to meet the needs, all the behaviors that we didn’t like disappear anyways. So let’s start with the heart.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So they can swim.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Katherine Winter-Sellery, thank you for welcoming us to your neighborhood. It’s really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s so lovely. It’s just been really beautiful to be here with you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much and, please again, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, sign up for a course, get her free ebook, and remember to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We thrive on them. We love them. We eat them up and we turn them into shows of their own. So write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazing talented Scott Persson. And our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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