KOKS Radio → on Creating Socially Responsible Kids

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This interview with Judy Ryan on parenting and education systems was conducted by Bill Wardell, founder of the show “Keeping Our Kids Safe” (KOKS Radio). In it, the conversation was primarily about how adults can best help create safe, caring, socially interested, and responsible children and teens.

Interview Transcript

welcome everybody we’re glad you joined us here on our show keeping our kids safe I’m your host Bill Wardell we have one of the best folks in her area uh definitely working with not only our youth but working in the corporate world as well in training uh giving advice giving information and counseling on how to make your life better I love the tagline for Life work systems it is get along get inspired and get more done we’d love to welcome um Judy to our show today and Judy uh just take a couple of minutes if you will and tell a little bit about yourself and kind of how you got started in this and then we’ll really jump into our next segment and kind of get in into the interworkings of how to help our kids in this daily life that we we find ourselves here in 2014 it sure has changed since I’ve been a kid it yes me as well and thank you so much bill for having me on the show I’m really honored and grateful uh my name is Judy Ryan and I am the owner of Life work system and it is dear to my heart to speak on this topic especially if we can impact the youth because they as we all know are our future so my company is an award-winning training consulting company we specialize in responsibility based and value based culture development and that culture development is in homes in school schools and workplaces and nonprofits all kinds of different organizations what I can tell you about myself is first and foremost I’m a parent of five children age 34 to 17 and I am also the grandma of five children so I’ve got some very clear personal experience with this work I’ve been doing this work part-time since 1984 and full-time since 1998 and in addition owning this company I’m also a trainer a consultant a CO coach a mentor I do a lot of keynote presentations I’m a frequent guest on radio and television and I’m a writer of two columns one is a business column in the St Louis small business monthly and that’s a local as you can tell and then I’m in national uh women’s journals on topics of emotional intelligence and I’ve been doing the writing of that column since 2009 those articles are picked over picked up you know all over the country so those are some of the little bit of the background on me in general as far as with kids my company’s actually won an award for multi-year comprehensive Innovative School Reform model so that’s some things that hopefully we’ll be able to speak to today awesome well I’m excited for that opportunity I know our audience is one of many things that they write into me about is how to help their kids in this day and age and so what we definitely want to be able to do is look at this from not only a school perspective cuz I love the fact that you’re able to get in school districts I know I’ve I’ve followed that path myself and sometimes it’s a little difficult depending on your local government how you can interject some new ideas and some new processes to help our kids in this kind of really difficult world that they’re living in not only with just peer pressure but technology and kind of the addiction of all of the social media that’s out there in the world and keeping them focused really on education well and I it was interesting because when I think about protecting the kids I think really about empowering them a lot of what they’re up against is both the challenge but also the opportunity for them and what I’m seeing is that as adults we’re forced into looking at our systems that Empower you know Children and Youth and questioning whether we could be doing a really strong maybe even more Innovative job on how to raise them up to be good citizens to be strong and empowered to be leaders and that’s really how I got started in the work that I’m doing when my children were young I was fortunate enough to be raised in a very healthy very functional family but it was in the 60s and as was common in the 60s parents really focused on kind of writing the script for what you will think what you will say who you will be and I that’s very well intentioned but what I wanted to improve upon with my own children was how do I help them be good citizens and you know empowered individuals that take good care of themselves how do I do that without sort of squashing who they’re here to be themselves and I was fortunate enough to land upon a model that’s based on adaran psychology and so what happened was I learned a whole lot of new ways of raising children that that helped them to feel empowered to feel lovable to feel connected and to feel that they had contributions to make from really small and the reason I even decided to do this work as my life work is that my children I was parent educator when they were young and my first four were very close in age and my oldest was 11 my son and then I had three daughters right behind him and we were invited to do a family meeting in front of a large audience of adults because we had been doing those regularly and we had the youngest which was a 5-year-old actually run the meeting and the reason we did that was to show that even a 5-year-old is capable of functioning as a leader even at that young of an age so our goal with our children was to help them to be empowered and help them to have experiences of contribution from Little on and I think that allows them to develop resources within themselves that protect them ultimately protect them from outside harm wow what a great introduction to the work that you’re doing talk a little bit about that this shift between Generations over the past 30 or 40 years and you got to know as well as I do technology has had a huge impact in how that’s happened well I I’m going to go ahead and and maybe hit this a little bit from a a sideways angle I think technology is bringing out you know really what has been developed in our society so technology could be used in a very positive way if we sort of get at the core of why it’s been harmful to our kids and what some of you know where some of the weaknesses have been that have caused it to be unsafe for them so I’m going to go a little bit more at the core of that what you’re talking about when you talk about entitlement I think that when we were growing up there was an emphasis on social interest being a good citizen and what worked then to help develop that had some negative side effects but for the most part it sort of worked because it was commonly practiced that everybody was expecting kids to be socially interested in caring for others now what’s happened is we developed that in people in that period of time using a lot of control methods so when you think about it you know there was a lot of autocratic parenting and education there was a lot of incentives and rewards that were brought in it over time and there was a lot of evaluation and Judgment of kids you know if you’re not good you’re going to be in trouble you’re Catholic it might be you know you’re going to go to you knowwhere so there was a lot of use of what we call extrinsic motivation to help people be good citizens and these were well intended adults that were helping kids to grow into good citizens and a lot of what they did teach was not using control and that stuck without the negative side effects but what is even more helpful is if people can learn how to develop intrinsic motivation in kids from day one and as early as they get that information so even when I’m working with corporations I’m telling them that the command and control ways that they’re running their businesses aren’t helping to create good socially interested employees and the same is true for children is they’re not going to be socially interested in caring unless we teach them how to do that from the inside out and not only teach it to them in word model it indeed and give them opportunities to practice it so I’ll just give you a quick example I was at the grocery store recently and I saw a little boy and he was about 5 years old and he said to his mom why can’t we park there and it was in the handicapped spot and her answer was because if we park there that says $200 on there the policemen will come we’ll get in trouble and we’ll have to pay $200 now that’s an extrinsic way to try to get him to be a good citizen is to kind of scare him into you know you’re going to be in trouble there’ll be a consequence for you and a lot of people are really big on that to try to help a person do do the right thing I think a more helpful answer is to really Inspire social interest so that you know that you might say to that same little boy there are people in our community that have decided together that we care about everybody in our community and that means the person that doesn’t have you know the ability to walk to the front door easily so together we agreed that we would put these spaces for them and that no one else would park here because we want to help them and we are lucky enough to have really strong leg we could even park at the back of the parking lot and be able to make it in the door so do you see how one is focusing on what are the social interests and the values that we as a community want to impart do we really want children to grow into adults that do things out of fear fear of getting in trouble fear of getting hurt or do we want them to focus on how they can be good citizens because of what actually feels good which is to be socially interested caring cooperative and helpful so that ultimately is the internal reward that will will sustain over time so I don’t know if that kind of answers your question but as long as we don’t consider whether we’re bringing a person into good citizenship through external Means versus internal means that’s going to always be at the core of when kids lose it because if kids are doing things to please adults or to be shfe with adults it’s going to transfer into now I’ve got to please my boyfriend now I’ve got to please my friends and so that means if they want me to do drugs I’ll do drugs if they want me to have sex I’ll have sex if they want me to do things on online that are not safe for me I’ll do it because I’m all about being motivated by others instead of motivated by my own values no I love that answer that was a great way to look at it and I’ve never looked at it like that before I think it’s a a wonderful concept of turning that internally your answer is perfect in kind of what we see on the flip side of that so as family am as we move forward and if we start recognizing this as uh leaders in our own home what are some of the step that we can do uh very easily and very simply in the home like you like you said talking not only talking the talk but walking the walk as a parent and as an example but do we do enough of that in our own home do you find with people that you talk to on a daily basis especially uh corporate leaders and parents in their home are they actually trying to plan to do their life this way or is it just a quick fix for them you know to get something done now and then it wears off well I think most people think they’re supposed to know how to do that well but in reality we hav an actually been often given the systems to do that well so it’s sort of hitting this if you were raised with a lot of autocratic control or a lot of uh approval and disapproval or a lot of bribery you know chances are you’re going to you’re going to use those systems when you’re in a company or in a family or in a school I’ll give you an example I met with a a principal of a private school yesterday and I’m going to be working with them for the entire year next year and they are a virtue-based r restorative discipline school which is common with this particular Catholic community and they have identified these virtues and they’ve identified these purposes that they want to raise the kids up in the school but they’re having all kinds of problems with actually living to those virtues even amongst the staff they had a whole list of challenges gossip you know challenges with uh them knowing how to handle the parents knowing how to handle one another and part of it is that even if you have the best intentions and have you know really good values in your in intending to live by values and virtues a lot of times you don’t have the P practical application for how to do that I always love kind of the Common Sense approach to stuff and so when I hear something that makes super good sense from a common sense approach I love that and what you’re teaching is very basic it’s very um specific and so when you were developing this what did you kind of the process that you went through I mean you had to have like an aha moment at one point where you went wow this is like the key because I’m getting that listening to you on the show today this is something I want to share with a lot of people well I appreciate you saying that and there were many aha moments but I think the main aha moments were really around adarian psychology I think Adler who was a contemporary of Freud who is not very well known he didn’t get as much press as Freud was really ahead of his time and mainly it was because his Psychology was called individual psychology and it was really all about how we function best as a human being so for example one of his concept is that we’re social beings that we’re wired to have a sense of U belonging and sense of significance and that the way that we do that being social is to really feel empowered lovable connected and contributing And yet when you look at our home life and at our life in school and work a lot of what we’re doing to people and saying to people does not make them feel empowered lovable connected and contributing I remember my first parent training class in this I walked in because I had a four-year-old son who was biting his sisters and I said this is my son the biter well when I put him in the little daycare room and I came back out the instructor said the first thing that you want to learn is don’t ever say anything about your children that will that you don’t want to nurture and cultivate in them and I was a little mortified but I was also very intrigued because I never even thought of myself as a parent that was a name caller or anything but I really was I was calling him a biter and I was actually expecting him to continue that behavior so there was so much that I was learning about what kind of conditions bring out the best or the worst in people so Edler was really a big one that influen me because what he helped me to understand is that if I create the conditions the environment and the conversations and relationships with my children that help them to be continuously becoming a leader in their life and that was my I mean I was taught first job you need to do as a parent is work yourself out of the job of being a parent as soon as possible and I that was a big aha what do you mean I thought that’s what I signed up for when I had children you know but really in truth the hardest job we can do is to transfer resp responsibility to other people effectively and that’s what I started to learn how to do and I learned I could do that without having to become some kind of really ugly person as a parent and that was a huge Boom for me because I wanted to be a parent that could also I that I could be influential and effective with my children but also be a friend to them at the same time and that’s what you can do if you have really effective systems you don’t have to be like oh I’ve got to pick between being a friend or a parent you can actually be both if you know how to be affective as a parent oh I love that you know I I was like you I I thought I signed up for that and so as a parent uh just take away my radio shows personality here as a parent if I’m looking for Solutions and I go to your website what are the some of the things that I can try at home uh do you have um like packages or kits that you’re able to uh do for folks out there obviously in the St Louis area they have you as a resource there you’re working with individual groups and school districts and things like that from a kind of a a worldwide perspective what what would be the first steps as a parent to start to get that information yeah well thank you for asking there’s lots of ways we approach this but in the beginning of every presentation we do we show the full range of of the process for a cultural transformation and that means in a home a workplace a school so we show all the steps of that so first you have to have the uh the senior team and your in this case it’s you and your wife and your family um agreeing on what are we transforming from into so we’re going to transform our home life into one where we’re all about being a healthy team we’re all about social interest we’re all about everybody taking responsibility for their relationship and how much they are accomplishing and how um happy they are in their life and we’re going to all be tooled up to learn how to do that with and in support of each other but not for each other so we have whole packages that are like we have a a program called your extraordinary workplace your extraordinary home your extraordinary school and those are eight week programs that we do live that are available if somebody wanted to say I want to go end to end through the process but we also have people that come in in the middle so what’s really interesting is one of our most popular classes is called redirecting negative behavior and it’s an alternative to punishment enabling bribing uh you know trying to guilt people the things people are like well okay if you’re taking away bribing and you’re taking away punishing and you’re taking away guilting what’s left you know how do I get people to behave well well there is a completely different approach that’s very effective and not only is it effective it heals you and it heals the people that you’re redirecting so that program is very popular because everybody goes oh man I’ve got somebody in my life that’s either making me angry or is putting me down or is underperforming that I’m worried about them or something so we not only have that program as a standalone live Workshop but we also are doing a lot of our programs in e-learning so people can say okay I can watch this in if I’m a night out I can watch this in the middle of the night a session at a time do the work do the reading do the interactions and kind of really get this and then we have coaching packages that you know people can call and say okay now I’ve got the concept will you practice with me so we’re trying to make this really assessible to a lot of people but the interesting thing is when I go into a corporation and I teach that program for example really any of our programs people are always saying to me oh my gosh this is working at home with my 2-year-old or this is working at home with my teenager when I’m teaching it in a parenting program people are saying I’m using this at my workplace we have testimonials on our website saying that very thing oh I I learned this in this program but I’m using it over here in this because good human systems are just good human systems and they work whether it’s with an adult or a child I’d love for you to talk a little bit about um the school development program that you’re working with uh tell me a little bit about that and kind of the process that you see that moving forward obviously you’re in a position to be um really testing a lot of philosophies and your your work courses uh with these school districts and maybe kind of a long-term vision of that okay well thank you very much for that question and also to kind of write on what you were just saying a minute ago our the foundation of our work is that it’s distributive it means that everybody can impact from top down and bottom up and that means that everybody gets the same information including in families the children are the kids even my own kids will come to me and they’ll say I want to practice this tool with you which is really when you know you’ve done a good job is that you’ve got these tools as part of the family conversation but just to let you know how this particular school which would be a way that a family would get involved with me a way that an organization a business or a school would get involved with me is on the front page of our website you’ll see three pictures one is of a family one is of a school and one is of a company and underneath it and above it it says workplace system education systems family systems and below it has a description of each and below that description is is an assessment survey and that assessment is really important because you can take it for your family for your school or your workplace and what it does is it educates you while you’re filling it out it says oh I’m supposed to have that in place I don’t have that in place or oh I do have that in place and at the end of it it asks you it has a whole list of challenges that you may be experiencing and you can check those off and then it has a whole list of what are the desired leadership supports that I want so in this case of this particular school that I just started with they filled that assessment out the principal did and so I have a whole list of the challenges that she’s facing in her school and the desired leadership support that she wants for her staff and then I met with her and we went over the transformation process and we plugged in things like I’m going to be doing their retreat in August and I’m going to be working with them every month with a leadership team and I’m going to be coming in and doing their professional development days but it’s all going to be focused toward certain performance targets that they want like building trust uh having more of the kids doing better academically having the the teachers reporting that that gossip and other issues are uh being reduced or eliminated so we are going to identify with them their performance targets and then we’ll go in I’ll be going in and I’ll be working with them to assess things first I’ll be doing some surveys with them about trust and alignment and engagement and then we’ll measure those same things at the end of the school year to see where things have improved and we’ll be moving them a sort of old style way of managing relationships and productivity and engagement to a new system that’s based on intrinsic motivation so the first thing that I’ll be doing with them is really helping the principal and the leadership team in her school they’re going to create their own leadership team they’re going to come forward and say I understand what’s required and I want to be part of that team and I’ll do the extra things it takes to be part of that team that’s really what you need in a family or a school it’s just somebody that’s in a leadership role to say I’m willing to understand what this transformation is and to participate fully in it one of my most successful schools was a principal that was about 70 years old who’ come back from for retirement twice and the reason he got this work is when he was a young boy his family would give all of the relatives they would go on these big family vacations and they give all the kids an envelope with money and they’ say now this is the money for all your meals all your souvenirs and all your activities and it’s up to you to manage it we’re here to support you if you need information or support from us but it’s really on you if you over spend and you run out of money you’re going to have to work it out with your your siblings and your cousins for how you’re going to hand that and so he really got the the idea of how do you help to train kids into being empowered and to be leaders and so it was really a no-brainer for him to inspire his staff to take the training and to participate and to implement and to not worry about if they felt like newbies at it all of that oh I love that idea flashback to a vacation that uh our family went on and um my grandma and grandpa and and uh the other parents did the same thing and so we’d go to like uh a restaurant and we’d want them to get our lunch for us and they and and they’d say well you have your money you can you know you can spend it and so what me and my cousins were doing were saving it for fireworks cuz it was a around the 4th of July holiday and I just flashed right in my mind how you know when you’re given that responsibility it it it’s definitely something that I remember my goodness it’s you know over 40 years ago that that happened and I still remember vividly that you know they had given us that responsibility so that really is what it’s about right Judy I mean it’s just taking responsibility for your own life and teaching that to your kids at a very early age but how do we do that and do it very easily and make it so that parents can put some rules in place that make it so that kids are inter acting more with you as a family and interacting with kids around them well I think there are t there are definitely important guidelines to set with kids so that you’re saying to them you know we’re not going to be out of balance with this but more importantly I would have the conversations regularly around what are we what are we going to cause together as a family and what do you want to cause in your life I just wrote an article last week that’ll be out next month called what do you intend to cause and the reason for that is our work is all about purpose-driven versus activity driven and a lot of times kids get online and they’re not thinking about what am I trying to cause in my life like my daughter she recently wrote um some new short stories and put them up on a site and was you know really interacting on playing around with being a writer because she wants to cause that in her life a lot of times kids are sort of um descending to the lowest common denominator because nobody’s asking them what do you want to cause in your life even most adults don’t know that I was in the article I was talking to a friend about this very subject we were at the park and she goes oh I want to cause myself to look like this woman in front of us who was this real Slim woman and I said okay let’s imagine that you look just like her what would you want to cause with it and she’s like oh I never thought about it so do you want to cause more men to look at you no not really do you want to cause your husband to be more attracted to you no not really then what do you think that you would be able to cause and she goes gosh I think I believe that if I look like that I’d be more influential and I said well so what you really want to be is more influential to cause what and then she realized she was already causing the thing she wanted to cause but she hadn’t even considered it so that’s kind of how how mindless we are about you know how many kids want think they have to look like somebody to be happy because they’ve never asked themselves what would I do if I look like that and is it really true that everybody that looks like that is happy and so it’s examining way more than whether they’re on technology or not but what are they wanting to do with their life what do they want to cause with it and that’s really what why I think so many people are disengaged in their life in general you know there are statistics that say 71% of our population is disengaged from from their work as adults and you can see it in the child population as well kids that are underperforming in school that are not excited about their lives it’s a much bigger problem than technology technology is just one place playing out what a great thought to leave on our show today Judy I love that what are you going to cause I’m your host Bill Wardell it’s been a pleasure today join us here next time and as always keep you and your kids


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