Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is honored to have as our guest child and family clinical psychologist, Eileen-Kennedy Moore PhD, who together with Mark S. Lowenthal, PsyD, co-authored Smart Parenting For Smart Kids.

Good day Eileen and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

What motivated you to become a child and family clinical psychologist?

Eileen:

I love doing psychotherapy. There is no greater thrill than watching someone make a profound change for the better.

In my psychology practice, I work with both children and adults. I have four children of my own (girl, boy, girl, girl, ranging in age from 10 to 18), so I feel very comfortable around children. The wonderful thing about working with kids is that they’re not set in their ways, so it’s often easier for them to change. Working with children is also very satisfying, because helping them now, to develop social and emotional skills or a more compassionate view of themselves or others, can ripple through their whole lives. It can enable them to feel happier and have more satisfying relationships, both immediately and longer term. When I work with children, I also tend to work closely with their parents, because the parents’ involvement, in terms of sharing insights, making observations, or helping follow through with interventions usually plays a key role in helping children move forward. I also enjoy working with adult clients, because adults have a greater capacity to self-reflect, identify patterns, and consciously choose to make changes.

Norm:

How did you and your co-author decide you were ready to write Smart Parenting For Smart Kids? As a follow up, what was your creative process like and how did you share in the writing of the book?

Eileen:

The short answer is that I talked Mark into it! Smart Parenting for Smart Kids is my fourth book and Mark’s first. I took the lead on writing, but Mark was a great partner in terms of brainstorming, talking over ideas, and editing. Mark is also a psychologist. I value his clinical insight and breadth of experience.

My first book, Expressing Emotion: Myths, Realities, and Therapeutic Strategies (Guilford Press), which I wrote with Jeanne Watson, is for mental health professionals. In both popular culture and clinical lore, there’s a belief that people have to “let their feelings out” or bad things will happen. Expressing Emotion explains (based on 47 pages of references!) that the effects of expression depend on what is expressed, to whom, and how. Simply “venting” emotions doesn’t help, but accepting, understanding, and communicating feelings appropriately can help.

My second book, The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends, which I wrote with Natalie Elman, is for parents. It talks about the social strengths and struggles of nine types of children, such as The Shy Child, The Little Adult, The Born Leader, The Short-Fused Child, and The Different Drummer. It describes how parents and teachers can help these children learn the social guidelines they haven’t managed to pick up on their own.

My third book is for children, ages 3-6: What About Me? 12 Ways to Get Your Parents’ Attention (Without Hitting Your Sister) (Parenting Press). I wrote the original version when my son was a frisky four-year-old, getting into trouble too often for hitting his sister. As a mom and a psychologist, I know that one of the best ways to handle misbehavior is to teach kids positive ways to ask for what they need. So, I made a little booklet for my son out of index cards, showing kind, helpful, and creative ways he could ask for my attention. He loved the booklet—he’d do all of the strategies, one after the other—and it definitely increased the peace in our home! That booklet was the basis for What About Me?, which is a picture book with gorgeous illustrations by Mits Katayama.

Norm:

Where did you get your information and ideas for your books?

Eileen:

The information in my books draws from both psychology research and clinical experience.

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids came about because Mark and I noticed something surprising in our practices and among the families that we know personally: The greatest anxiety about performance often surrounds the children who are most capable. You’d think these kids would be especially confident, and often that’s exactly what they show to the outside world. But their parents sometimes see the other side: the way they fret before a test, even though they always do well on tests…the way they overdo on homework… the way they pick apart their social performance, worrying, “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that…”

Bright children get a lot of attention for their performance, and sometimes they can start to believe that they are that performance. This leaves them terribly vulnerable. If they mess up or even just struggle to learn something, or if someone else is “smarter,” they can feel inadequate or even worthless.

Performance matters--I’m not going to say it doesn’t--but a vitally important message that we parents need to communicate to our children is that performance is just one facet of a well-lived life. Our kids need us to help them understand that they are much more than the sum of their accomplishments.

Norm:

How does your book differ from the many other books on parenting that have been published over the past several years? As a follow up, whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why?

Eileen:

There have been a number of excellent parenting books that offer compelling critiques of our anxiously achievement-focused society. However, they concentrate more on highlighting the issues rather than providing answers.

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids is a solution-focused book that offers parents practical strategies for helping children develop the social and emotional skills they’ll need through out their lives.

Here’s something that Mark and I believe very deeply: Our job as parents is not to dictate our children’s path, but to try to equip them for their journey, and to trust that they will find a way that’s right for them. That’s the core message in Smart Parenting for Smart Kids.

We hope this book will benefit both parents and children. The chapters address key issues that kids struggle with and parents worry about, such as:

  • Tempering Perfectionism

  • Building Connection

  • Developing Motivation

  • Finding Joy.

Each chapter has a section called “Show the Way” that offers parents an opportunity to reflect on how these issues pertain to their adult lives and how to model effective coping for their children.

We wrote this book because we wanted to be a voice of clarity and comfort for parents who care about developing their children’s inner strength. Compassion, perspective, grit…these qualities aren’t necessarily impressive—your kids won’t win a certificate for developing them—but they matter deeply.

Norm:

Was there anything that you found particularly challenging in writing your book? If so, what was it and how did you deal with it?

Eileen:

We had a VERY tight deadline: 7 months from signed contract to finished manuscript. There were more than a few late nights involved, but we got it in on time.

Norm:

What was one of the most surprising things you learned from writing Smart Parenting For Smart Kids?

Eileen:

I found Carol Dweck’s research on mindset absolutely fascinating. She and her colleagues have done a bunch of studies showing that telling kids that they’re “smart” can make them afraid to take risks and sometimes even encourages lying!

Norm:

What, in your opinion, are the most important qualities of being a good parent?

Eileen:

Parenting involves a delicate balance. On the one hand we need to cherish who our children are at this very moment. On the other hand, we need to support our children in moving forward. Achieving this balance requires four essential components of smart parenting:

  1. A compassionate ability to view the world through our children’s eyes,

  2. The confidence to set judicious limits,

  3. A commitment to turn towards our children more often than away, and

  4. Faith in our children’s ability to grow and learn.

Norm:

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)

Eileen:

Mark and I will soon be starting work on a new series of five books for children on social skills. Down the road, I hope to write another book for parents about the emotional side of parenting.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your co-author?

Eileen:

My website is http://www.EileenKennedyMoore.com.

Mark’s website is http://www.MarkLowenthal.com.

Here’s a short (< 2 min.) video about the book:

Competitive parenting? Just say no!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgf2cf-gCp8

Readers can also download a free pdf excerpt of the first chapter of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids here:

http://www.EileenKennedyMoore.com/media/Excerpt-Smart-Parenting-for-Smart-Kids.pdf

 

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Eileen:

Thank you, Norm.

CLICK HERE TO READ NORM'S REVIEW OF SMART PARENTING FOR SMART KIDS

Click Here To Purchase Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential