Accent Image for Episode 35: Understanding Bright Kids Who Don’t Care

For Clinicians

Episode 35: Understanding Bright Kids Who Don’t Care

Welcome to the Mind Dive podcast brought to you by The Menninger Clinic, a national leader in mental health care. We're your hosts, Dr. Bob Boland, and Dr. Kerry Horrell. Twice monthly, we dive into mental health topics that fascinate us as clinical professionals, and we explore those unexpected dilemmas that arise while treating patients. Join us for all of this, plus the latest research and perspectives from the minds of distinguished colleagues near and far. Let's dive in.
Bob Boland  00:43
Welcome, we're delighted to have Dr. Ellen Braaten child psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. She's widely recognized as an expert in the field of pediatric neuro psychological and psychological assessment. She is the co author of many books and articles for parents and professionals, including your newest book, bright kids who couldn't care less how to rekindle your child's motivation. Just delighted that you're here. Joe. Thanks for joining us.
Kerry Horrell  01:09
Yes, welcome.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  01:10
Thanks so much for having me.
Kerry Horrell  01:12
We're gonna hop into our first question. But this is kind of a, almost like a part two, because you also did another book with a very similar title, bright kids who couldn't? Oh, and I'm forgetting, I almost just said that, myself. And it's more about processing speed. And so this is sort of a Do you see this as like a part two?
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  01:32
Well, it's funny you ask that first of all, I get the books mixed up to like, I'm always worried, I'm going to say the wrong title, because bright kids who couldn't keep up was such a part of my, you know, occupied so much of my brain space for a while. But it is a little bit a part two of that book that I wrote this book about processing speed. It came out over 10 years ago, at a time when nobody really knew much about processing speed. But it was even started researching it like 15 years ago. And it's become a much hotter topic since then. But I had to sort of figure out what I was going to say. And we did research on the topic. So I could write the book that I've already gotten the contract for. So that was really about kids who had trouble keeping up. And then my publisher asked, Well, what do you want to write about again, and I was like, well, meaning these kids with processing speed issues that seem to be unmotivated. And I was seeing a lot of kids in my practice, who just seemed to be unmotivated, some of them had learning differences, some ADHD, sometimes anxiety. But as I was thinking about it was kids sometimes who had no discernible diagnosis at all, they I was just getting referrals from parents who are like, I, my kid just seems to just want to play video games, or my child has no passion about anything, they have all these opportunities and no passion. So that's how I started thinking about this book. So it is a bit a part two of what happens with kids with processing speed weaknesses, who grow up, who don't have the right accommodations, or treatment, I should say, to not everybody. And then it's it. But then the pandemic happened while I was writing this book, and I broadened the audience because we're all feeling unmotivated, and, and trying to find what what was it that gave us pleasure before this pandemic? So it's a little bit of both,
Bob Boland  03:28
right? Tell us about your career. And, you know, I became interested in ADHD and, and all these issues about bright kids who are unmotivated or getting stuck.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  03:37
So I actually started out as an undergraduate major in special education, because when I was, and this sort of it almost relates a little bit to parental pressures if we if we get into this topic at all, but I was the first person, my family to go to college, graduate from college. And there was only two things I could have majored in. One was education, the other was nursing. And so I picked special education because I really wanted to be a psych major. But at that time, I was like, What do psychologists do? I mean, I'm that old. So I went into special education, and was a special ed teacher for seven years before I went back to graduate school in psychology. So I'm just I was always interested, even as a special ed teacher in the individual development of kids in how do we categorize kids? How do we best give them the services they need? And so in my graduate program, my dissertation was on ADHD was on empathy and ADHD, and differences in responding. And then I became interested in neural psychology within that during my Well, I had done a number of practicums and in graduate school and in testing, but then really developed an interest in that I just that I think it intersects with sort of like my interest in education and accommodations and diagnosis and treatment, and also some of the broader issues too in terms of looking at learning differences, and you know, over the course of a lifetime, so
Kerry Horrell  05:05
I'm so this is off topic a little bit, but I would be so curious to read about empathy and ADHD that just sounds so fascinating. And if there is any relationship there, can I ask you really quick if you did find that?
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  05:18
We did. And this is the biggest regret of my career is that I did not go down this path more. And, and, and you know, write a grant studying that. But it was just I had kid little kids, and I didn't go the pure researcher route. But we did find differences in empathy in kids with with and without ADHD, in that boys with ADHD had the lowest lowest levels of empathic responding, followed by boys without ADHD, followed by girls with ADHD and then girls, so. So females without ADHD were the most empathic, and the least were boys. And there's the reason why I did that, as I don't want to get too far off topic here. But Russell Barkley has this fascinating he has this, this, you know, he this is going back 25 years, this idea that ADHD that some of the underlying factors in terms of being able to understand it as a condition, but also figure out the kinds of treatments for it,  one of the factors had to do with, you know, the ability to sort of step into someone's shoes, whether that's an attentional issue, you're not paying attention to all the cues, you're not able to organize the information that comes in. Yes. So we did find differences. And I think that some of the more recent research on ADHD and autism spectrum as being kind of a spectrum relates a little bit to this. I published it a very long time ago in the early 2000s. It's ancient text now, but I, but I do think it's, I do think it's something that that is still interesting. And in one of the, like I said, a big regret of my career, but it's okay, somebody will figure it out. That won't be me. And that's okay.
Bob Boland  07:04
That's kind of timing. Right. But we should talk about, we should talk about your book, I really want to hear about this.
Kerry Horrell  07:10
Well, this is, but I think like in general, the idea of like really better understanding ADHD and as well as other kinds of neurodevelopmental disorders, especially again, again, working with young adults, right now, this is like every other patient, they're coming in with, like a question about, like, if they're neuro atypical and what that means. And again, on the surface, it's so easy to think like ADHD, it's the as the name would imply, it's the attention and it's hyperactivity. And for autism, it's the social communication, and the repetitive behaviors. And it's like, there seems to be just so much more in common between these two disorders, then early thought, and anyway, so I'm so I feel like you have contributed so tremendously to like understanding this. And even in this work you're doing, thinking about how things like motivation play a role, especially for these kids. And so as, as Bob is suggesting, let's dive into the book. So, you right, you wrote this book, and are interested in again, like these kids who may be broadly put just seem uninterested, they feel sort of stuck. They are, they're not, they're not going for things and parents are like, that's not really fitting with either how they used to be, or also their maybe their potential. And I know, this is kind of a huge question. But it does seem like you do a really nice job of labeling the different influences and understanding motivation as a nuanced concept. And I wonder if you can give us just a taste of you let you name at least social, biological and psychological factors. And I wonder if you can give us a little bit of a taste of how you understand motivation for these kids?
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  08:44
Yeah, so I think we can't look at any one sort of thing when we're trying to understand where a child is coming from in terms of motivation. So he to talk about motivation as having you know, there's a there's an incentive component to motivation, we do things because someone gives us an incentive, they're going to pay us for something. So we're motivated to do something. But the best kind of incentives are internal. So it's important to understand, what is it internally that motivates us? And when do we need an external motivation. So that's important to think about. The other thing that motivation is associated to our arousal levels. So it's about maintaining our status quo in some in some cases. So a simple example is we're motivated to get up from the television for watching a video game and get a glass of water, if we're thirsty. And if there's someone around there to get the glass of water for us, we're not so motivated to make that change from the video game, to the refrigerator and back. It's sort of a simplistic example, but our arousal, you know, that physiological issue that we have, with some ways of being motivated, can be influenced by what we have in our environment. So you know, if we're, if we're hungry, and there's nobody around to cook for us, we will find a way to cook. So again, simple sort of simple way to kind of think about that. And then to also kind of think about back to your way back to intro psych, to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where we've got those physiological needs at the bottom, and the self-actualization and those esteem needs that are kind of at the top, we've got to think about motivation in in that sort of realm that some kids are not very motivated because their basic needs aren't met. Or sometimes they don't have that peer group, that is allowing them to sort of find what their bliss is because they don't have their, their their needs for friendship, or, or identifying with a group or being able to trust others. And those those needs, you know, we all know that that hierarchy isn't solid, we don't. It's not like we start at birth and we know that keeps going up and down year after year in schools or depending on what what is happening in our life. So we've got to think about all those different components when we're trying to figure out well, how do we get a kid motivated? Well, there are lots of reasons why they might be unmotivated, and lots of variables to think about in terms of figuring out how to get them motivated.
Kerry Horrell  11:10
One thought I'm having, and I wonder what you think about this, this is also going back to kind of Psych 101, I was teaching that for a while, and I loved it. And one thing is that I was reminded, so fun to go back and teach psych one, one, cuz you're like, Well, I forgot so much of this. But one of the things I was reminded of is, is the idea that external motivation can impact and can reduce internal motivation. I think the like, classic example is a kid who loves to read, and they sign up for the summer library reading thing. And so now they're getting pizza, and stickers and rewards for reading. And their internal motivation to read goes down now, once an external motivator has been placed on it, and again, I'm just curious how this might also relate. Because we are a society we love to give external motivation to kids.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  11:58
Exactly. And it's a really important concept because we live in a society that is so externally motivated in or I shouldn't say ex, we put these external motivators on kids, and that study about reading is a perfect one that most parents aren't even aware of. So we've got to, first of all, be conscious of the fact of when external motivators are necessary. It's not as if they're not necessary at all. But we have to be conscious of that fact. And then it's it we have to then sort of think about, what are the factors that go into internal motivations? And it's, first of all, finding what is it that I love to do, which a lot of times kids can't even get, keep, can't even find that intrinsic motivation. So, you know, if we want a child to love to learn to read, we don't need to reward them for that by giving them pizza, we need to make sure that they're good readers. So for some kids, we kind of lose the sight of the fact that we want to make sure we give them the skills they need. And that's true for anything that we want to develop an intrinsic motivation for. We want to make sure that that a child has the skills they need, and the support that they need, so that they can develop that intrinsic motivation. That's where it goes wrong. It's not about oh, you know, I can read now now you've you're going to have to pay me to read. No, the problem is, is never with a reader who already loves to read. The problem is that we when we have readers who don't have the right kinds of, of academic support to help them be a good reader. So we've got to find ways of building that intrinsic motivation by figuring out what our child's goals are reminding them that success breeds success. And success doesn't need another reward, success is a reward and in and of itself, and to give kids choices that we'll help them figure out, what did you like to do? What made you happy? That's how we get at intrinsically motivating activities as we figure out oh, I like that. I'm gonna do that. Again. We don't give kids a lot of but a lot of chances to figure that out on their own.
Bob Boland  14:10
Oh, it seems to me that, you know, when you talk about external motivators, you're kind of defining like the job of a parent. I mean, that's pretty much all you do through the teens and I can feel of no time when it was sort of without throwing my sons too under the bus. There is no time but like, you're more involved than in college. That's like the goal of the parents, right is you got to get these kids into college. Because it's I don't know, because it's what you do. And it's kind of it's kind of the value that you know, a lot of people have and somehow they've made it once they get there and your job is complete. And so that puts all these expectations on and I think that's probably an area where it becomes particularly difficult and you you talk about that a lot actually.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  14:53
Well, I can plunge right into the whole college thing because I do feel that college is a huge source in our culture right now of demotivating kids. And it starts early. And it is something that I find kids, well, first of all this drive to get into college starts very, very early. I have had second graders talk about how they need to do extracurricular activities, or they need to or fourth graders who are worried about their math progress, that they're not going to get into college.
Bob Boland  15:29
If you don't get into the right preschool, you might not get into Harvard.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  15:33
Exactly. And, and, and also the fact that most of us will not get into Harvard. I mean, I didn't get into Harvard, I'm there now. But I would have never gotten in there then. So it's just it's just, you know, we but we don't have that. And so this emphasis comes from this drive in appearance to succeed. Sometimes it comes from our own aspirations that were unmet, I didn't get to go to this college, you're going to get to go to this college. And I find that what happens in this process is one of two things. And of course, I'm talking about the, you know, the extremes. But this aspiration for success either forces kids to, to do everything at their peak level performance. So then you've got this mad rush of kids who want to achieve or think they need to, like, shouldn't even say one thing they need to achieve. And so they're caught in the cycle of overachieving not sleeping, which is a huge problem, also for motivation. And then they overdo it sometimes with the relaxation, going to parties on the weekends overdoing it with with substances, or you for I find that there's kids who just are like, Yeah, I'm not doing this. And sometimes it starts as early as seventh eighth grade. It's like that course that you have planned for me for the next eight years of my life, I am not interested in, I can't have a discussion about this, you've told me college is the only way and this kind of college is the only way. And so I'm going to show you I'm not prepared, or I don't desire this by just checking out. And I find it is a super common problem, that 10th 11th graders all of a sudden develop this huge problem with motivation, because they're like, Yes, I'm not doing this. And I will show you that I am not doing it by making it impossible for it to even be a choice for me anymore.
Kerry Horrell  17:21
I for a time, it's actually my one of my if not my very first practicum was at a high school. And I was working with a school psychologist doing I EP testing. IEP stands for individualized education plan, I'm pretty sure. Yes, I was doing, I was doing the testing for an I was at a pretty like wealthy, privileged background, high school where a lot of these kids were like, headed to Ivey's. And like these big colleges that do this testing, and the parents oftentimes were like, where's the ADHD, where's the learning disorder, like, we need to figure this out, because they're not doing perfect. And then I'd meet these kids and these kids would make some of them did have like some level of processing disorder, or someone did have ADHD, but actually, like a good number of them, were just really tired and super anxious. Because they were doing like waterpolo speech and debate, they were doing the what's the government, one, Model UN, they were taking all the AP classes. And when I would like, sit down with them, and like, test them and talk to them, they're their IQs off the charts. They're achieving off the charts, but they're like, I'm just really stressed and tired and under so much pressure. And I was like, trying to talk to the parents, like, they don't probably need like a pill right now. Or like just this, they just maybe need like a chance to breathe a little. And parents didn't love that. I'm gonna be honest, they didn't always love the conclusion.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  18:47
I'll tell you another example that happens to me too. And this is the worst sort of evaluation for me is when a parent comes in, and maybe the child's doing all those things you say to that is the average. And there's nothing wrong with being average, as we know, 64%, by definition, most of us are average, only 5% of the population is in the top 5%. That's really hard for all of us to remember. And so, this so when I say you know, but average people do remarkable things every day. But it also means that maybe like, you're not going to be at the top of whatever, for your math scores. Or if you are, you've got to know that I'm going to need extra support in this because I average, you know, someone with an average intellect can be a remarkable doctor, but they're going to know, they're going to need to understand who they are as a learner, and where they need that support and where they can excel. And so, but but that's the worst feedback I have is when your child doesn't have ADHD. The reason why, you know the all of these AP classes are hard is because it's sort of a little bit beyond what are hard. They're hard. Exactly. They're hard for everybody. And um And there's nothing to be ashamed of here. But let's figure out again, you know what, APU, what what do you want to concentrate on? What? What makes you happy?
Kerry Horrell  20:07
I don't do a ton of cognitive testing anymore because I'm working with folks who are in such crisis that a lot of times it's like, this isn't the moment to do that. If you're going to, you're so depressed, yeah, you probably can't pay attention. But anyways, when I do give cognitive testing, whenever they come out of average, I've just taken that word out of my vocabulary. And instead, I say, you are exactly where we'd expect you to be. You're exactly where someone your age gender, we'd expect you to be you're doing right on Mark. Great.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  20:34
Well, one reason why these books are called bright kids who couldn't care less as no one wants to buy a book, your average child who couldn't get no one times I've gotten dinged on the fact that like, well, I thought this is gonna be a bright, bright kids. Well, that's because everybody thinks their child is bright, and in a way they are. But you know it. But for us, as psychologists, we do define it a little bit differently. And actually, sort of a lot of parents too.,
Bob Boland  21:00
well, this gets kind of into the differential, I guess, for like, poor motivation, right? Because we've kind of talked around it. But it I imagine you encounter many things when people bring kids to saying that this is the problem or discuss kids saying that this is the problem. It could be. It could be serious. It could be depression, it could be serious disorders. Or it could be I guess, totally normal.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  21:22
Yes, exactly. And I think that's one reason why I, you know, was as I was sort of thinking about this book, before I started writing it, there was the whole gamut, that there were some kids who, who were unmotivated, because they didn't have the skills they needed, because they weren't given the right accommodations, they went undiagnosed. There were some kids who were bound for college based on their parents needs and expectations, who were, I don't want to do this. And then there are other kids who are depressed, or anxious, or overwhelmed. And just, you know, we all get demotivated when we've got too much on our plates. You know, one reason why kids play a lot of video games sometimes is that they need to chill. And it's sort of like for me, I find that I'm more apt to get on Instagram and start scrolling, when I have too much to do. That can't all fit into a schedule, rather than too little. Or, yeah, that too. So so it's it's partly we need that vegging out, because our lives are so full, and parents sometimes think that cramming more into their kids lives, will make them more motivated, when actually it can have exactly the opposite consequence.
Bob Boland  22:34
And I think we should throw and we haven't even talked about, you know, socio economics, you know, yes, there are the privileged kids that carry this gauntlet away, we've had many sorts of colleagues who discuss how being of a different racial group or a different cultural group are told that, you know, they're kind of talking to start their average or less, even though they're often very bright people.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  22:55
Absolutely. And anytime we're being told, we're less than, or we have chronic stressors like racism, anything like that is going to be it'd be demotivating. And make it harder for us to find what gives us pleasure. And I should just keep going back to the college issue, that we tend to this sort of pools this idea that everybody is going to go to a great college, Ivy League college, it pools in those affluent areas, but it doesn't stop there. It actually that that competition for that college admission among the upper and upper middle class, who hope to get in, actually, research has indicated that it sort of trickles down to everybody, that that kids along all of the socio economic, and different sorts of demographic strata, feel unsupported, they feel stressed, when we raise the bar for everybody, that bar and I'm not talking about the good kind of bar, that bar that everyone should just start at, you know, their own company, by the time they're 14 actually raises the bar for everyone. And so it's actually making making it worse for everyone that this is not just an affluent problem at all.
Kerry Horrell  24:09
This is reminding me of we had Temple Grandin on an episode. And we were talking with her about how the idea that like college and academic route is for everybody. And that just what gets that is the narrative that is what success is, has not only like created massive problems with kids where that's not their skill set. But it's also created a shortage in technical trades. And she talks about especially these kids, these really bright kids with autism, particularly, are probably very well suited to go into some of these technical trades and like how do we actually shift the narrative that that is also success and that is also an incredible pursuit? And this again, you're so right, like, it's just gotten to be this thing where like, college is it like that's you got to do it. And it's like, that's not necessarily true to be successful. And I mean, and also, I mean, the research that shows that the thing that actually is most related to liking your job is that you feel good at it like that you actually feel skilled. And that that's that is what drives so much of the pleasure of jobs. And so I'm shifting a little bit. I know, there might be some comments on reflection of that, too. But I'm also going to think about one of the things I really love about your work, Dr. Brown is that you seem to be very strength based. But in our field, that's, that's still relatively uncommon. We tend to be deficit based, and let's, let's deal with the problems. But one of the things that you talk about, and I wonder if we want to segue into this is what do we, how do we help these kids? And it seems like the the approach you take really is, as you were saying earlier, let's think about what their aptitude is, let's think about what they enjoy what they find pleasurable. And let's think about where they tend to have a good amount of resiliency, and they end to feel motivated. And so I wonder if you can, again, I just threw a lot at you. But I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about that model. And just the idea of what helps, especially parents, like how do we help people, these kids move forward?
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  26:01
Yeah, I really felt like a strength based approach is the only way to go because we're feeling unmotivated. The last thing we want is, you're not good at that either. And you're so so what I when I started to kind of think about motivation, and how we can even like tackle this . And really, I wasn't even thinking at the time motivation, I didn't really have that it was more like these kids. And I should say, my working title for the book that we had for quite a while was bright kids who don't give a --- and you can fill in the blank there. So they really do these kids, like how do we reach these kids that are just like, I couldn't care less about anything. So we started thinking about okay, so what do we need in order to feel motivated and know what we want? We first of all have to know ourselves. And when we're talking about parents, which parents have to know their child's aptitude? What are what are the things they're naturally good at? What are their personal strengths, it doesn't mean that we always have to only be in a job that plays to our strengths, but we've got to know what they are at least Yes. And that sort of takes away? You know, it's realistic, first of all, and then I wanted to think about okay, so what is it that we enjoy? Sometimes what we're good at is also what we enjoy, but sometimes it's not. And so that's where I came up with this acronym, the parent app aptitude, pleasure. And then practice has to do with, where does my child spend his or her or their time? Where do they like to spend their time is there anything that they they like to do over and over again, without getting bored. And really, motivation is kind of who think about those three things is a Venn diagram, motivation is sort of in the middle of that, we want to have a little bit of all of those things, we need to be motivated, we've got to know and know what we're good at, be in that range. in that realm of strengths, we've got to be doing things we like to do, and want to do a lot of. And so that's my way of kind of helping parents think through this. And, and in the, in each chapter, I kind of thought to talk about what to think about what to talk about and what to do. So it's not really a, I wish I could have come up with a 12 step plan two, more two step plan would have even been better, because it would have been less writing, but but it's really about a lot of like, what you know, not just what to think about in relationship to your child, but what to think about in relationship to you. A lot of what we think about a lot of things that are demotivating for kids is that we put our own desires, the things that gave us pleasure that we put aside, we put that onto our kids, and expect them to fill in those gaps in ourselves that we didn't fit. So we've got to think about ourselves when we think about our child's motivation, and be a good role model for oh, you know, I, you know, I wish you were an actor. Well, I always wished I was an actor and didn't have that chance, and you blew it. And we've got to them kind of look inward to not to blame parents, but just as a way of helping our kids.
Kerry Horrell  28:59
I mean, it's just very again, it's so it's so helpful to think about that, that there's this piece to about like, kids are so adept at knowing where they get the most attention and love and care. And like that influencing them. And so as a parent to think about, like, do I like really lean in, when it's something about me, like, Oh, you're really into STEM, and I give you so much attention and praise for that, but maybe not for some of the artistic pursuits that my kid also likes. And, you know, just just having the parent reflect on that, like how understandable and natural that would be, but, I mean, it's a huge part.
Bob Boland  29:32
Yeah. Well, I mean, we're not we can't get into it, but like we had a recent podcast or that we just finished with, with Mitch green. I think talking about sports parents. Yeah, that's which is a whole I mean, it was plays where I write into what you're talking about that kind of like your kids kind of living your dream. Yeah. Which never seems like a good idea.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  29:51
No, it's not and we as adults have to figure out how to fix that in ourselves, as opposed to expecting our kids to do it and And, you know, so many times when people become parents, and especially as their kids get older, we sort of put ourselves aside and you know, we get sort of a meshed or become too much of a helicopter parent, every parent's gonna do this some. I mean, we all do, it's normal, but it's figuring out okay, when did I get too involved? And how do I unravel this a little bit?
Kerry Horrell  30:21
Yeah, you so often for the pursuit of I love my kids so much. And I want them to have a great life and totally like giving and working with the young adults, mostly college kids, this is what we see all the time as it's like, I never told them that they had to go to college for us to love them. And yet, somehow, this is how your kid is felt, you know, like these, just the untangling of all of that. And while we're running short on
Bob Boland  30:41
Wait, can I ask one more thing...  I just I believe, for the psychologists, that group is something I think that people are going to wrestle with, of course, a lot of these parents come in these parents and make them sound awful, you know, like loving parents come in. And they kind of want your kids to prescribe medications, because that is kind of society's fix for everything. Now, you know, even though it's easy to say, No, I don't think we need help doing that. My worry is that if you simply dismiss it, well, they can find it from somewhere else. It's not, you know, they'll get someone to thrive something, how do you explain it to them in a way that they'll sort of not go down that pathway, which, obviously, there are serious diseases we mentioned, for which the kids would need medication. But in the cases where it's clearly not indicated, where it's more the things we've been talking about here? How do you counsel them?
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  31:25
Well, I Oh, that's such a good question. I want to make sure that they know that first of all, medication is not a panacea, even when there's a diagnosable issue with that, you know, with ADHD a pill does not fix ADHD as well as ADHD, medication combined with other kinds of accommodations and remediations. And same goes for depression, that exercise along with an antidepressant works a whole lot better than just the antidepressant. So I am usually pretty blunt with them at saying I wish I can, first of all empathizing with them, who doesn't wish there was a pill to change what's going on in front of us. So I am with you on this, if I were in your shoes, I would wish for that to, I'm going to tell you, it's not going to work. And you're just going to wind up being disappointed because it's just not going to work. So we've got to take a step back here. And here's what you know, here's what I can offer you. And it's going to take a long time. And it's going to be take a lot of insight and thinking and trial and error, but you're going to get there. And you're going to feel a sense of satisfaction along with your child once we once you know, get them on the right path.
Bob Boland  32:39
That's great advice. Thanks.
Kerry Horrell  32:40
I am stealing this from a I listened to another podcast you did on this topic. I'm stealing this from a previous I think maybe a reporter who you talk to. But one thing as we begin to wrap up that I just love about this book, as you do the fear, I think is like oh god, children's motivation. How do we tackle it does just sound like how do we get them to do better and do more. And I love that this approach to this book is how do you actually dive in, and not say, Let's do better and do more, let's accept, and let's support and let's let's think about like your kids actual skills. It feels very, it feels very practical, and also very like in line with the value of like, again, like human based care. And so I again, I just really appreciate that. I wonder as we begin to wrap up any last word that you'd like to give or ideas around just like what what would you say to parents around this as they might be wrestling with a kid who's struggling with motivation?
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  33:37
Well, one of the simplest things I say to parents, maybe not directly because it can be hard to hear. But to love the child they have not the child they wish they had.  And a lot of what what the kernal of  a child who's like, I just don't care anymore. It's too much for me, is that somewhere someplace, oftentimes, it's the parents, it can be the school system, it can be our society, all sorts of, and I mentioned some of these things about social media and but that's not the goal of this book. But there are lots of variables. But what happens is, we don't always love the child with their own unique strengths and qualities and that unique person that they are, we oftentimes love that child that we wish they'd be or we thought we'd have. And that's probably I think the best reminder for for parents to think about as they're trying to understand their child better.
Bob Boland  34:36
Wow, that's yes, very wise. Ah,
Kerry Horrell  34:40
I so appreciate you coming and talking with us and again, just really appreciate your work. This puts words and gives I think some some level of structure to to like how to approach it because motivation I think in the field of psychology is just like, it's so hard to to assess and treat and like work on because of how complicated it is. So to break it down especially to help parents think about with their kids again, just so appreciative of your work in this field.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.  35:06
Oh, thank you so much.
Bob Boland  35:08
So once again, we've been having Dr. Braaten on and your host, I'm Bob Boland.
Kerry Horrell  35:14
I'm Kerry Horrell. Thanks for diving in. The  Mind Dive podcast is presented by the Menninger Clinic. If you're curious about the professional experiences of mental health clinicians, make sure to subscribe wherever you listen.
Bob Boland  35:27
For more episodes like this, visit www dot Menninger
Kerry Horrell  35:32
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