Eps 389: Motivational Interviewing with Dr. Emily Kline

Episode 389

My guest today is Dr. Emily Kline. 

Dr. Kline shares all kinds of useful information this week around why and how we can communicate with our adolescents with the best results.  We touch on relinquishing control and asking curiosity questions, then we dig in deep into what motivational interviewing is and why it’s so helpful.  I ask Dr. Kline what motivational interviewing might look like when a teenager is using marijuana, and we agree that the best tool we have to influence our adolescents is relationship.  Dr. Kline shares tips on how to start tricky conversations and what you can learn in the first 10 seconds.  She tells me what limits, consequences, boundaries, etc. look like to her, what we do when teens disregard those limits, and listening for motivation to change.  

Guest Description 

Dr. Kline is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. She serves as the Director of Psychological Services for the Wellness and Recovery After Psychosis team and leads the Motivational Interviewing for Loved Ones lab at Boston Medical Center. Her research focuses on early course psychosis, adolescent and young adult mental health, and parent-focused interventions.

Dr. Kline is the author of The School of Hard Talks: How to Have Real Conversations with Your (Almost Grown) Kids and the creator of The School of Hard Talks Online. She has published dozens of articles appearing in a range of peer-reviewed scholarly journals, textbooks, and popular magazines, and she has spoken with audiences all over the world about mental health and interpersonal communication.

Dr. Kline completed her bachelor’s degree at Haverford College, her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and her clinical and post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School. She lives in Boston with her family.

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Takeaways from the show

  • Relinquishing control 
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Teens trying marijuana 
  • The best tool for influence is relationship 
  • Staying respectful & curious 
  • How to deliver advice & why we listen first 
  • Staying neutral & consistent around hard conversations  
  • Expectations & limits without punishments 
  • Avoiding socially isolating consequences 
  • Listening for motivation for change

What does joyful courage mean to you

I think as I advance in my own life and my own career, it’s having the courage to do something that feels meaningful, fun, and impactful and following the random calings that seem to come, rather than staying on a certain path forever.  I guess that’s what it means to me – trying to stay aware and open to possibilities in my own life, even if I thought “This is who I am and this is what I’m going to do forever.”



The School of Hard Talks: How to Have Real Conversations with Your (Almost Grown) Kids Book 

The School of Hard Talks Online

Dr. Kline’s Website  

Dr. Kline’s Instagram

Dr. Kline’s TikTok

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kids, parents, feel, adolescents, work, klein, talk, weed, conversation, programme, teenagers, hear, listen, started, motivational interviewing, family, nemo, smoking, consequences, relationship
Casey O'Roarty, Emily Kline

Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead at Sprout double. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show. Hey everybody, welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Dr. Emily Klein. Dr. Klein is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. She serves as the Director of psychological services for the wellness and recovery after psychosis team and leads the motivational interviewing for loved ones lab at Boston Medical Centre. Her research focuses on early core psychosis, adolescent and young adult mental health and parent focused interventions. Dr. Klein is the author of the School of Hard talks how to have real conversations with your almost grown kids and the creator of the School of Hard talks online which I am going to make sure the link is in the show notes. I encourage all of you to check it out. She has published dozens of articles appearing in a range of peer reviewed scholarly journals, textbooks and popular magazines. She has spoken with audiences all over the world about mental health and interpersonal communication. Dr. Klein completed her bachelor's degree at Haverford College, her master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and her clinical and post doctoral training at Harvard Medical School. She's a smarty she lives in Boston with her family, and I'm so happy Dr. Klein to welcome you to the podcast. Hi.

Emily Kline 02:46
Hi. Wow, what a bio what I saw great. Yeah, you

Casey O'Roarty 02:50
sound great. You do you sound very knowledgeable. I'm really excited to get into it with you. I heard you on Brenda ziens podcast hope stream. And it was so validating just to listen to you talking with her about being with our kids that are in addiction using substances and recovery. And I reached out to Brenda and said, You've got to introduce me to Dr. Klein. I want to talk more with her about motivational interviewing, which is what we're gonna get into today. I would love to know what drew you into the work that you're doing.

Emily Kline 03:28
Wow, okay, well, what drew me into the work I was doing, you know, I was young, I was a little bit of a lost soul. And I got a job as a file clerk at a like sort of day recovery programme for adults who are struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. And there wasn't that much for me to file, to be honest. But there was a lot of interesting people around and the way that that programme was set up, like there weren't like little individual offices, it was all very open space. So I just started wandering around talking to patients, and I loved it, and I didn't want to leave and I eventually made them. Hire me Give me a real job. And that started my mental health career. That was like 20 years ago.

Casey O'Roarty 04:13
Yeah. And you work with adolescents?

Emily Kline 04:16
I do. Yeah. So I've been working with adolescents, you know, most of the last, I would say 15 or so years, as kind of my specialty and I am deep in a very, very specific world, which is I work with adolescents and young adults in their families who have just been through like a mental health crisis, often a hospitalisation for a psychotic disorder, like an episode of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or drug induced psychosis. And that feels like a very niche kind of thing. And yet, really, really interestingly, you know, we can get into it I feel like working with that population has given me this in sight into, like what adolescents is really about. And these families who are so desperate and are in crisis have revealed to me so much about the actual work of parenting young adults and adolescents that I think applies to everybody.

Casey O'Roarty 05:17
Yeah. Well, and I mean, that's why I was so excited about that interview that I heard with you and Brenda was because I work with parents of teenagers. And like I said, before I hit record, I understand why so much of the parent, coach, parent education industry is really focused on those early years because you get into adolescence, and it feels very messy. And as the supporter as the coach, I'm not a psychologist, I'm not a psychiatrist. But I definitely have a role as a guide and a coach for parents. And the stuff that shows up in adolescents feels super scary. I so appreciate the work that you do. Because right now, there just doesn't seem to be enough helpers that are willing to work with adolescents, I my own personal experience, you know, being on a six month waitlist for a DBT programme with my daughter who was in crisis looking for the right fit for her. So many clients who, everywhere they call, it's a waitlist, a waitlist, or, you know, not all therapists are created equal. Right, so they find someone and it just is not helpful. So when my oldest entered into high school, and we started to feel the tension of adolescence, and I looked for help, I realised, I'm not hearing the messy conversations that I need to hear. And so that's why I was like, I guess I'm gonna have to have the messy conversations, and it is super messy, for sure. For sure. What do you love about adolescents and working with teens, I mean, especially considering your work like these are kids that are really hurting, and having a hard time, what gets you going in the morning to head to work every day?

Emily Kline 07:08
Well, I remember my own adolescence, as kind of a magical time, you know, I wasn't the coolest kid in high school. But I had such a passion for my friends. You know, we were into cheesy stuff, like, you know, when you pour your whole soul into listening to your new CD with your best friend, or your have your first love, and you're writing poetry, you know, I mean, those are the kinds of experiences that you can really only have when you're like 18 years old, because you feel like you're the first person on earth, whoever read a poem, or had sex or had a best friend, I mean, these experiences are so intense, and wonderful for kids. And it's such a kind of a magical time of filling out your autonomy and figuring out what kind of person you want to be. But what really gets me going to work in the morning is both just the feeling of responsibility that you have, because I mean, as you say, I know, I know what it's like out there. And then also, I found that working with the families is really, really gratifying. And especially this kind of vein that I've developed of teaching parents very specific communication skills, because the fact of the matter is that we have pretty good medications and rehabilitation programmes, for people who are experiencing psychosis, but we cannot cure these disorders. That's a hard fact. We just don't have the science, we're not there. So trying to help people manage their illness can be very rewarding. But it's also always totally uphill. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, these are sort of unsolved problems. And I'm not going in there with a magic wand, I only have the tools that are kind of given to me by the field. And we haven't gotten to the point where we can totally solve these problems for people. But when we reframe the issue when I'm working with a family, and I reframe it as saying, you know, we're not going to talk about curing your kids, schizophrenia today. I don't know how to do that. But let's talk about this communication and how you guys communicate with each other. How you ask your adolescent or young adults to do things at home, like take their medicine or go to therapy or contribute to household chores, or go to the cousin's wedding out of state that I can help you with, I can help you with that a lot. And when we reframe the goals around things that feel really achievable, it's really, really exciting for everyone. Because it's like, oh, this is a mission that can actually be one.

Casey O'Roarty 09:35
Yeah. Well, and I love focusing on communication, too, because it feels like when we're not intentional about what we're saying how we're saying it, like there's the speaking, there's the tone. There's the receiving there's the funnel of messages that have already happened that are then interpreting what's being said by the team like, you know, it's not simple, right? And I think parents, when they start to understand, we're great perceivers we're not great interpreters and adolescents, and young kids like great perceivers poor interpreters. And then parents feel like, well, they don't want to talk to me or, you know, I asked them, I was curious with them, and you know, and they still freaked out, or they still resist it. And so talk a little bit more about the communication piece, because, you know, if we're going to hold on to control of something which controls an illusion, as we parents of teenagers are either starting to learn Welcome to the programme, or I've come to realise, but one thing we can do is, we can pay attention to how we are communicating on our side of the street with our kiddos. So talk about how you work with parents around communication.

Emily Kline 11:01
Yeah, exactly. So we cannot control other people. Such a drag. terrifyingly, this even includes our own children, because we simply can't, you know, even when the stakes are really high, it's impossible. You know, in by the time your kids are teenagers, they're often bigger than you. You know, even if you wanted to just, you know, just manhandle mom, handle them into the station waggon and take them somewhere, like you probably can't. And when it comes to things, like, you know, who they're hanging out with who their friends are, whether they're using substances, you know, kids are incredibly sneaky. And so you might set all the rules in the world. And somehow they get circumvented. But what we can control is our own approach. And we can approach strategically and use skills that are much more likely to have a better result. But what's really ironic about that is that if we basically that if you hope to influence your kids behaviour around those things, you know, whether they're studying for the test, whether they're trying alcohol, who they're hanging out with after school, if you want to have a say in these things, you will most likely be more successful. If you allow yourself to understand that you're not in control. And you even allow your kid to understand that you're not in control, and that ultimately, they have to figure out what they're going to do.

Casey O'Roarty 12:33
I love that. And again, like it's just so affirming, to hear you say that because my own personal growth around being a coach is I like things neat and tidy. I like an hour long call to at the end to have a resolution and like, great. Now you got to plan. So go ahead, go forth. And sometimes, well, sometimes that happens, but most often it doesn't happen. And I have a 17 year olds, I have a 20 year old, you know, I have all sorts of opinions about how I would love for them to be living their life, of course, I'm their mom. And a controlling mom is not what they need. And I want them to make choices for them versus against me. Does that make sense? Absolutely. And I think sometimes we get in that dynamic. And it's so frustrating for parents, like they don't realise the consequences of their choices. And it's like, well, the space is set up in a way where it's like, as a teenager, I'm not thinking about the consequences of my choices. I'm just thinking about what an asshole you are parent and doing the opposite because Screw you.

Emily Kline 13:43
Sometimes I like to watch this little clip with parents from the beginning of Finding Nemo. I don't know if you remember that movie. But you know, Nemo, it's like his he's supposed to be a younger kid, not even a teenager, but it illustrates what you're talking about so well, because he's like, it's his first day of school. And of course, you know, what the parents I work with are really attuned to is any as a disability, right? When if his fins works a little differently. And the kids are all daring each other to like, swim out past the coral reef into the open water. And Nemo does not actually seem like a risk taking personality. You know, he's like, Oh, I don't know, I shouldn't really do that. And then the dad kind of swoops in and is like, Don't you dare you better get back here. I knew you weren't ready for this. And it's in that moment that Nemo? It's just compulsive at that point. He has to prove that his data is wrong. Yeah. Right. And he's no longer thinking with his actual brain about what he wants. He's only trying to prove his dad wrong. So sometimes I watch that clip with parents and say, you know, of course you don't want your kids to want to prove you wrong. That's just never the kind of attitude that you want to evoke or elicit and we all have that in us, and especially teenagers really have that in them. You know, sometimes we do things just to prove that somebody else cannot make us behave a certain way.

Casey O'Roarty 15:06
Yeah. Right. And again, like how much we can set up that dynamic unknowingly. And listen, listeners, we all love our kids. I know you all love your kids, and you want them to be. I've started to say content. I mean, a lot of people use the word happy. But to me, I feel like content is the golden ticket, like just to be content. And I want you to talk about motivational interviewing, because I talk about curiosity questions a lot on the podcast, as a invitation to communication, you know, and then we'll get into like, having the patience to hold space for their timeline versus our timeline is another thing I'd like to talk to you about, too. But can you talk a little bit about what motivational interviewing is as a communication tool? Sure, yeah.

Emily Kline 15:57
So motivational interviewing is an evidence based, therapeutic way of talking, that was created by a psychologist back in the 1980s, who were working with patients who had alcohol addiction. And you know, if you have anybody in your family who has ever had alcohol addiction, one thing, you know, is that people are really ambivalent, you know, part of them desperately wants to change. But there's another part of them that really maybe needs that addiction, or depends on that behaviour, or just thinks it's going to be way too hard to change. And so they don't want to change, they do want to change, and they don't want to change. And that's the definition of ambivalence. So these psychologists found that when they leaned into this ambivalence, and they didn't try to be very confrontational, or say, you know, they didn't try and influence the ambivalence by saying, You're being an idiot, you're ruining your family's life, you're ruining your own life, your liver has gone to shreds. You know, those kinds of confrontational statements are like what we typically associate with like intervention, right? But they found that people got really defensive when you do that. And actually, sometimes, the more successful approach would be to just create a very, very non judgmental space, where you are trying to get the patient to think about their own reasons for and against change. And try and resolve that ambivalence through the non judgmental tone, you set in the questions that you ask, and also a tone of sort of optimism and confidence that you try and set. So I learned this practice when I was in graduate school, you know, learning to be a psychologist, and I found it incredibly useful. In my work with patients with serious mental illness, you know, because we're talking about, mostly to behaviours, substance use, and also whether or not to take medicine for the problems they're having. And motivational interviewing was such a helpful, helpful technique for talking those things through with people. And then, you know, I started thinking about, really, it was the parents, who would often come to me and say, number one, I can't even get my kid to see you. They won't come in and talk to you. I had that conversation many times, then it's a real heartbreaker. But the first time I ever had it, really, the ghost of that conversation haunts me to this day, heard a variant on this conversation over and over again, with parents, or the parents would try and call me up between my sessions, and leave a voicemail saying, Okay, how do I get them to take a shower? How do I get them to, you know, go to Aunt Sally's wedding next month? How do I get them to join us for dinner? And I thought, well, these parents actually need to know this skill, because it's the only way that I have to talk to people about behaviours, where they're ambivalent, they don't want to do it. And maybe deep down, there's a part of them that does want to do it, but they're nervous. And I started thinking about can I teach the family caregivers, almost always parents of my patients to do this incredibly, incredibly, practically useful thing that I do every day? And so I started doing that. And I developed this curriculum for parents, really, of young adults with psychosis. But then, people just started finding me, not just parents of young adults with psychosis, but just parents of teenagers and young adults who were like, feeling sad, or having friend issues or smoking weed or not doing their homework or just normal teenage stuff. And I started kind of expanding the audience expanding the audience. So yeah, motivational interviewing is a communication technique that I use and that I teach. And that is just a very, very useful set of extremely concrete ways to talk to somebody about change without getting that Finding Nemo kind of blowback. Right?

Casey O'Roarty 20:05
Well, and that's what is so exciting to me. And I've shared in some recent newsletters that I'm doing a workshop right now that is primarily for people that work in recovery and addiction with families. And I'm just so excited to be there. Because, yeah, it's how do I get my kid to XYZ, right, like, fill in the blank, especially when we're talking about teenagers, I have so many clients that, you know, I know that they need therapy, I can't get them to do it. I know, they need this, I can't get them to do this. And, you know, again, back to that, Finding Nemo, I've totally forgot about that part of the movie. And it is, it's such a perfect illustration of what can happen, well, meaning loving parents, you know, kind of set up the scene for their kids to be engaging in the exact behaviours we don't want them to engage in. So one of the things that shows up with some of my clients is around trying and smoking weed. And parents get really scared, you know, it's kind of the continuum, there's parents who have never done any drugs, or we're not, you know, wild teenagers who are like, Oh, my God, this is the worst thing that can happen. And then there's the other extreme, who are maybe recovering addicts, or at least like, did a lot of stuff, and are like, Oh, God, I don't want my kid to make the same mistakes I made, how do I shut this down? And then everyone in the middle? And so talk to me about how motivational interviewing can be supportive? Because I heard what you said, I mean, studies are showing that this is actually more effective in creating positive outcome, would that be the right language to use? Right, right, then kind of the idea that we can, you know, take the doors off the hinge and lock the windows, and, you know, the whole authoritarian approach of, you know, shut it down, lock them up, talk about motivational interviewing, just even in this initial like, Oh, God, I know, my kid is testing this out trying this out, maybe is using socially, what does motivational interviewing look like for those parents?

Emily Kline 22:19
So I totally agree with you. I mean, a lot of the parents who come you know, I work with parents who like, they're very knowledgeable, right? So they have Googled a lot and found a lot of good information. But it doesn't mean that you can control the outcome, then you know, what I mean, like, we have this kind of delusion that, you know, knowing more gives you more power, which is true in some situations, it doesn't happen to be true in this one. So you can know a lot of facts, you can be like, Oh, the THC content. In today's, you know, smokeable flower, indica strains is much higher than it was in the 1980s. You know, and that's like a fact that might make you feel empowered as a parent, like, you know, something, but it doesn't actually give you more power over your child's behaviour. It's just a fact, in the world. And so, motivational interviewing really starts with the idea that your best tool for influence is relationship.

Casey O'Roarty 23:22
So my tagline girl, okay, love that. Right? Yes.

Emily Kline 23:26
So at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what you think it matters, what your kid thinks. And if your kid thinks that you are worth listening to, that you have their best interest at heart, and that you know some things about life. They will probably listen to you. They're more likely to, they're likely to Yeah, or they might still experiment, but they'll have your voice in the back of their head, not in a negative way, in a way that's like, what would my mom want me to do here? And so, you know, the way this works, like in a doctor's office is, you know, that if I'm saying, oh, you know, I'm smoking weed, and I go and talk to a therapist, or my primary care doctor about this, and they give me a bunch of pamphlets, you know, saying basically, I should stop, but I don't feel like this person really gets me. I don't really feel like that well connected to them. Probably I'll be defensive, and I'll just disregard their advice, then I might not want to talk to them again, because they made me feel kind of bad about myself and made me feel embarrassed about my weed habit. If that person is respectful, wants to get to know me sees me as an individual ask questions about my experience, and then maybe perhaps gives me the exact same advice, which is, you know, this isn't good for your brain or, you know, you should consider switching to, you know, lower concentrations or, you know, if you're using this for anxiety, we have other things for anxiety that might be more effective or less harmful. to your brain, that person I'm much more likely to listen to, even though ultimately the advice was the same, right? It's just sort of how it gets delivered in the context of relationship and respect. So, you know, I always say to parents, I'm not just saying, you can't control your kids and let them make their mistakes. Yeah, good luck, right? Like, that's not really worth writing a book over. That's not worth conducting a study over. But what I am saying is that, you know, you don't have to change your mind about anything. But if you feel like your kids aren't listening to you, and you're frustrated by the tone, or the outcome of those conversations, here are some skills you could try next time. So that conversation starts not with no, no, no, you're smoking weed, you gotta stop. This is horrible. You know, I like both of your examples. The parent, like I had parents who had never done a thing in their lives, and were just like, so easily scandalised by literally anything. I hope they don't mind me saying that, for posterity.

Casey O'Roarty 25:57
I think that's a nice way to put it so easily. Yeah.

Emily Kline 25:59
Yeah, they were easily scandalised. So that's my mother's own words, by the way. And then there's the parents who have their own history, and they're really, really worried. Because they know their kids may be vulnerable, like, substance use disorders run in the family, and those kids are vulnerable. And that's scary. But you know, the conversation either way often starts with, you know, talk to your kids about marijuana is something we hear, it's like, okay, so you go in, and you talk at them. And you either say, This is really bad, this is going to derail your academic plans or substance use disorders run in our family. And here's what happened to me. And instead, I would suggest starting the conversation with like a question, like, what do you know about marijuana? Or what are your friends think about marijuana? What are people saying about it, or if you know that your kid has been smoking, and you need to talk to them about that back, just start really briefly with something you've observed or something that you know, like, so you've been smoking weed, and just stop talking. But the theme is you have to stop talking, ask your question or state your observation. And then be quiet so that you have a chance to hear what the other person actually thinks, before you launch into advice or rules or, you know, setting expectations.

Casey O'Roarty 27:26
Yeah, so cracking open the door. Right. And I really appreciate the making an observation, I think that you know, and it's also a practice of coupling it with neutrality. Right?

Emily Kline 27:41
It has to be factual, nothing you can start arguing about?

Casey O'Roarty 27:45
Yeah, yeah. So I know that you're smoking weed. And then the child says, I'm not God, get out, closes the door.

Emily Kline 27:57
Right. So you can learn a lot in the next 10 seconds. You know, and I teach this to the medical students at Boston University, where I teach to, okay, so if you're on the addiction service, and a patient gets sent to you say, Okay, so you've been referred. Because you've been, you know, using whatever you've been referred, because you have a DUI, or you've been using heroin, or you've overdosed on fentanyl, whatever, stop talking, and you will learn a lot in the next six seconds, which is like, either the person will say, Hi, now Oh, my gosh, you know, like, let's get into it, and I'm embarrassed, but we can talk about it. Or they will do what you just did, which is like, No, I'm not. That's ridiculous. Absolutely not. And so, you know, you're gathering a lot of information in that moment, even though it feels like the conversation is shutting down. But what you're learning is that they feel judged. They don't want to talk about it, they feel like it's an invasion of your privacy, and that they feel especially like talking about this is not going to be helpful, or talk about it with you is not going to be helpful. And that's good information. And you know, it also is the moment to share some information back, which is maybe I can be helpful, but you share that information not by saying it because they're not going to believe you just say no, you should talk to me. I'm great. Like I can Yeah, I can handle this, but you show it you know you don't say you show it you go okay, you don't feel like talking to me right now. We're gonna come back to it later. You know, in very neutral. Yeah, way. And I know this is like a lot easier said than done, by the way, because it is really hard when it's your kid and you're freaked out. But what you're hoping to convey is I can handle this. I can listen, I'm ready to listen. Now. I'm ready to listen later. Like, but also I'm going to be persistent. I'm going to show up. You know, I'm not going anywhere. Yeah, I

Casey O'Roarty 29:55
think that is so key. For those of us that have been raised with this kind of behaviourist mindset of if you make a mistake, you get a consequence. That's what you do, or, you know, reward if you don't make the mistake. And this can feel when you take that away. I mean, that's not what I coach parents towards. And it can feel like a freefall because the illusion of consequences are, I am doing something, right, like I am doing something. And what's hard to recognise, you just highlighted really quietly, but you highlighted it is the actual consequences, I'm going to keep having this conversation with you like I am going to be persistent, I'm going to be non judgmental, I'm going to be neutral. And I'm going to keep bringing this up, because it is something that is going to affect your life. And, you know, ultimately, our role is to protect the health and well being of our kiddos. And the best way that we can do that is supporting them with the dialogue that they're starting to develop in their brain. And I think that when you come in with motivational interviewing, or as I call it curiosity, what happens over time, is they're starting to connect dots, they don't realise they're ambivalent, while they're ambivalent, right? And so we get to kind of tease that out through questions and the listening, right, versus like, Hey, let me connect the dots for you. It's subtle, and it doesn't come with the same, like, impact, like, idea of impact as well, you're grounded, or I'm taking your phone or, you know, whatever other creative thing we can do to our kids in hopes that the next time they're gonna think I don't want to get in trouble. So I'm not going to do this thing, which they're not, doesn't work like that most of the time.

Emily Kline 32:01
Yeah, I do find that like having limits. It can be a real gift to everyone, if there's, you know, expectations and limits, because there's some kids who are going to be deterred by a limit. And that's great. You know, like, awesome on,

Casey O'Roarty 32:17
tell me what limit means to you. Yeah. Because I feel like it can be kind of elusive, when we talk about expectations. So talk about what that means to you.

Emily Kline 32:27
So you know, any kind of expectation limit boundary consequence, whatever you want to call it is like, you know what to say, I'll just give you an example, from something that just happened. I was doing a workshop with some professionals who work with kids, not clinical professionals, but people who work with kids in like, various capacities, and one was an after school programme director who works with teenagers at a Jewish Community Centre. And she said, I just had this moment with a youth who loves to come to our programme. But he came Hi, a couple times. And I had to tell him, you know, he's kind of suspended for a week, and it felt horrible. And she was kind of asking me, like, Did I do the right thing? Or, you know, how should I have handled this? And I said, Well, there's ways that you can talk to him about the limit that you're setting doesn't mean that setting the limit is the bad thing. In fact, it might give him a lot of internal motivation to smokeless weed. And that's awesome, right? To say, Okay, well, you can't have access to this thing you love. While you're high, you just can't. Yeah, we can't do that here. Or, you know, to say, of course, you can't drive if I'm worried that you're drunk or high, that just cannot happen. For a lot of kids who are using substances, though. They are lonely. And sometimes they have depression, not always, but sometimes they do. So I'm really careful. You know, I advise parents to be cautious about using consequences that are related to like social isolation, you know, because that can really backfire. If you take away the phone, or if you ground, someone who's lonely in the first place, like it can spiral in a bad direction. So anyway, but just putting that out there. But you know, in the book, I write about how in our adult relationships, we have a lot of expectations, but they're not tied to punishments. We don't try and manipulate the contingencies around other people's behaviours, the way that we do and it's our kid. And I'll give you you know, the example I give in the book is like, if you're a friend and you have lunch plans, and your friend doesn't show up for lunch, you might be upset with her about that. And you might text her or call her and say, hey, you know, where were you? I was really disappointed. You don't take away her phone?

Casey O'Roarty 34:50
Yeah, right. Right.

Emily Kline 34:53
Or like if your spouse like you know, spills something like makes the kitchen a huge mess and doesn't And clean up after themselves. You don't cancel their weekend plans. You just say like, Hey, this was like upsetting to come downstairs and see this mess in the kitchen. Like what happened? Yeah, I don't like that, you know, when we have adult relationships, we accept that, you know, we don't have control over these contingencies. And if we did, it would be weird. Yeah. Right. And so when we're dealing with young adults, and even, you know, as we work backwards, with teenagers, there comes a point where it doesn't make sense so much, to manipulate the contingencies so much as it does to just talk about the behaviour. Yeah, and about why it was upsetting. And you know, that it's really not what I want you to do, and it affects me, it affects our family, please don't do that.

Casey O'Roarty 35:46
Yeah. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 35:55
To me, a great example of this is the stupid smartphone that we adults really screwed our kids with. And, you know, handing over a smartphone and expecting a 12 year old to know how to, you know, because why trust them, I trust them to use it in the way that we've discussed. Well, that's great. And they're going to make loads of mistakes. And it's designed to lure them in. So yes, please have some limits, and boundaries on that use. And as they get older and more practised in navigating the smartphone, the limits and the expectations, the space that they have for using it changes, you know, same with driving the same, you know, with just being out in the world and that freedom, I think where it gets really messy is this is showing up in my house. And this has shown up with my clients too, especially when we're talking about substances. When Yeah, the expectation is, I don't want you to smoke weed. Right? I don't want you to do that. It hurts your brain. It hurts your brain. And here's all the facts. Right? And our house rule is it won't happen here. And then it does. Right. And that's when parents are like, What am I supposed to do? They broke the rules, right? And my suggestion is exactly what you are saying, which is very validating Dr. Klein, which is circling back with them. Like tell me about this, you know, we've set this expectation we know that you were using in your room. One of the questions that I loved that I heard from your interview with Brando was talk to me about your relationship with weed. Right. Tell me about that. So talk a little bit about the power of drawing forth from our kids when they're making risky, unhealthy choices.

Emily Kline 37:49
So you know, you can start this conversation by even cleaning out the obvious, which is, you know what, I think about this, yes, you know what, I think I don't like it. But obviously, what I think is not the most important thing here, what you think it matters? Because you're in control? Yeah. I can't follow you around 24 hours a day. So yeah, let's talk what's going on? Help me understand, you know, what's your relationship with weed? What do you like about it? How long have you been using it? How do you use it? You know, how do you get it? You know, if you can get this information, then you are like, way ahead of the curve, you know, if you can get some of this answers to some of these questions. And if things are going well, in this conversation, you might at some point, hear ambivalence, you know, and you have to really be tuned into it, sometimes to hear it because your own heart might be racing. And you're just like, Oh, my God, what do I say next, or I can't believe they're doing this. And so it might not happen all at once. The other thing is that, you know, the good thing about your kids is you'll see them again. I mean, it's funny, because I do teach this in the context of like working in an emergency room when you're never gonna see this person again. So you have one shot to have a conversation with our families, we have infinite shots, right? So you can always come back to it. So it's okay to just listen, I was listening to one of your interviews where you say, and I love this, like, it's okay, that you are gonna blow it like a lot of the time, you're gonna lose your cool and just yell or do whatever you usually do, you will have another chance. You know, but if you are tuned in, you might hear something like, Well, you know, I like it for this reason, but it's causing this problem. And the problem might be, my parents don't like it. You know, so we don't want to remove that as a potential problem. And at the same time, you know, it's a hard needle to thread to be able to be curious and have the conversation You know, but it might be causing other problems to like, you know, my girlfriend doesn't like it. Or, you know, it's costing me a lot of money. Or I want to do this sport. And I know I got to stop smoking because I'm, you know, my heart has been racing when I run lately. Yeah. And this is a huge part of the technique is that you're listening for the very unique motivation of the person in front of you. You're not imposing your own ideas about what that motivation ought to be, you know, like, you and I are caught up on this idea of, oh, it's hurting your brain. Right, right. Because I think a lot of us parents are like, we don't want us doing this because it's hurting your brain. Totally. But that is probably not something that a teenager is going to be motivated by.

Casey O'Roarty 40:49
It didn't motivate me, that's for sure. No, it's not how their brains work. Yeah,

Emily Kline 40:52
not at all. This is just development, you know, and there's positives to this. But, you know, kids are like, oriented around more short term. Yeah. gains and losses, your brain being hurt. It's like a very long term, nebulous kind of prospect. But they might be motivated around yeah, it's slowing me down in my spreads. Or I have a crush on this girl, and like her group of friends would never, and that kind of thing. So if you can listen for that, then all of a sudden, you might, here's the motivation for change. And you can echo that back, like, Oh, so you like it? Because you like the way you know that it sparks your creativity. But you're worried about what this girl might think if she found out that you've been smoking weed, which of course, very different from what we think, why we think they ought to quit, but there it is. Motivation. That's awesome.

Casey O'Roarty 41:53
Yeah. And then so we kind of restate that, and like, leave it there. Mm hmm. Yeah.

Emily Kline 42:00
So that's called a reflection. And it kind of blows people's minds. And like, it's funny, because I'm not a behaviour wrist. You know, I don't like grading rewards and consequences around every behaviour, but I am behavioural and that I believe in fake it till you make it, I really do. And reflections are the best way to fake it till you make it when you're attempting to kind of have this type of conversation. Because when your kid comes at you with something that you're like, alright, the best thing you can do is just repeat it back. And you can even use little training wheels, which is like, so it sounds like you think marijuana helps you do your math homework? Right? Instead of getting into an argument about like, that makes no sense. Right? That can't possibly be right. When you hear something that blows your mind, you're like, What the heck are you talking about? Just repeat it back. And that's called doing reflection and then stop talking. Yeah. And usually people love a good reflection, it makes them feel so good. It makes them like, wow, this person is really listening to me, this person really gets me.

Casey O'Roarty 43:15
Well. And it sounds like too, we are listening. Like that is what's Yeah, absolutely gesture that to capture to see and feel like this is the thing to reflect back on. We are listening, and we are seeing our kiddo. And I think when we go in with, like, the idea that we all want to believe that we know our kids so well. And on some levels we do. And then there's this whole inner world that we do not know, we are not privy to, can we have to be invited in? Right. And I think this is such a respectful opportunity to say I can be let in and I won't cause total havoc in your internal experience.

Emily Kline 44:01
Right, right. You know, there's like that stereotype of like the mother in law who comes in and rearranges the furniture every time she visits, right. And so it's a way like you're saying, I've sort of metaphorically entering the mental space of someone who's younger and has less power. But say, I'm just going to, you know, look around, I'm going to treat this space with respect, I'm not going to, you know, tell you that it's wrong or that you need to change everything. I'm just peeking around. And there really is no better way to build relationship than just to listen and if you're not sure how to just listen, do reflections. It's the first step and just sort of retraining yourself away from doing and fixing and correcting and instead just listening and again, not to say that we don't want to give advice that we don't want to push our kids. But you know it has to be offered when things are like integrated energetic space, right like right can't come come out of this kind of angry place of like, what? Because probably kids are not that likely to listen. But they're quite likely to listen, actually, if you're curious about their perspective, and you want to know what's motivating them.

Casey O'Roarty 45:13
Yeah, I love that. And thinking about who my favourite people are to talk to, and the qualities that they bring to our conversations, you know, listeners, I encourage you to think about who the people are in your life that you open up to, and why do you open up to them and then use them as a model, as you work to strengthen and develop relationship with your teen. And if it's tough right now, and you all have heard me say this, I say this a lot. You know, when we're getting totally shut out, to me, that's a relationship red flag. Right? That's an indicator of I don't trust that this is a safe space for me to tell you what's going on in my life. So I'm not going to, right, so the work being around building relationship and shifting that belief with your teen, which can be a brutal path. Over time, and we get to like you said, be consistent, be persistent, keep showing up. And be consistent in our come from, you know, I care more about you than I do about your grades. I care more about you than I do about your friend group. And showing that and how you're showing up to conversations is so key. Oh my gosh, I can't believe that it's been an hour, I have so much more that I want to talk to you about Dr. Klein. So I'm going to invite you back on one day. Is there anything else that you want to just for today? Make sure that you land for listeners before we wrap up?

Emily Kline 46:45
No, just that I'm a person. And I know it's hard. And yeah, feel free to invite me back. Like when I'm in the thick of it with my own kids who are like elementary school now. And you know, see how I'm doing with all this. I know, it's like, it's a lot easier said than done?

Casey O'Roarty 47:00
Yeah, it is. And I'm so glad that there are helpers like you out in the world working with families. Listeners, you have got to go on Dr. Klein's website and check out her online class School of Hard talks, as well as making sure you get your hands on her book that just came out a month ago. I am going to get my hands on it. I'm really excited. I always end my podcasts with this question, which is what does joyful courage mean to you?

Emily Kline 47:28
What a beautiful question. I mean, I think as I advance in my own life in my own career, it's having the courage to do something that feels meaningful and fine and impactful into the kind of follow the random callings that seem to come rather than sort of stay on a certain path forever. So I guess that's what it means to me is trying to stay aware and open to possibilities in my own life, even if I thought this is who I am. And this is what I'm going to do forever

Casey O'Roarty 48:04
of it. Tell us your website and where we can find you on socials and all the places.

Emily Kline 48:09
My website is Dr. Emily Klein d r e m i l y k l i n e.com. And then I have an Instagram where I kind of act out some of the skills or we suggest like conversation starters for different topics. And I say we because I run it with some of my students at BU some and they're like card carrying college students so they're very young and they keep it real. It's called learn about my low mi L O, which stands for motivational interviewing for loved ones. Learn about my low on Instagram and Tiktok

Casey O'Roarty 48:44
Awesome. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. This was super useful and I can't wait to be in conversation again.

Emily Kline 48:52
Boss them thank you and thank you for the work you do.

Casey O'Roarty 49:02
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at beasts brothel.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

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