Eps 483: Douglas Haddad teaches us about creating encouragement for middle schoolers

Episode 483

My friend Douglas Haddad is here this week to chat about all things middle school, with a focus on encouraging discouraged learners.  

Douglas has been teaching for over 24 years (at ONE school!), and I love his commitment to his students.  Douglas shares what he’s seen changing during that period, like higher anxiety & social media misuse, and what’s stayed the same, like a child’s need to feel loved, heard, and understood.   

Douglas shares his wisdom on keeping middle schoolers encouraged & engaged: making sure they understand the systems in place around them, how we can help when our kid isn’t connecting with a teacher, collaborating on family agreements, and helping our tweens grow their tolerance for discomfort.

Guest Description 

Douglas Haddad is an award-winning middle school teacher, best-selling author, parenting and education advisor, international speaker, and award-winning filmmaker. He is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens” and the brand new children’s picture book “Mya McLure, The Brave Science Girl: The Toad Cave.” 

Haddad has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” in his Connecticut school district and has served as a Teacher-Ambassador in Public Education in the State of Connecticut. He has also been awarded as a Fund for Teachers Fellow for engaging students in transformational learning experiences that address equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Haddad has taught over 3,000 students in his 24 years as an educator, working with children from all different backgrounds and abilities and has helped them transition from being kids into young adults.


Community is everything!

Join our community Facebook groups:

Takeaways from the show

  • What’s different between middle school today & when you were a tween? 
  • “Loved, heard, and understood” 
  • What does discouragement look like in the classroom? 
  • Wait Until 8th Pledge 
  • Does your child know & understand the systems in place around them? 
  • How to help foster connection between your child & their teachers 
  • Family contracts, charters, agreements, & meetings 
  • Being available without an agenda or judgment 
  • Setting & celebrating small goals 
  • Scaffolding for our kiddos to grow their tolerance for discomfort

What does joyful courage mean to you

That’s a mindset to me.  That’s really a way to face obstacles and challenges with a positive, optimistic outlook.  I know – I find the whole aspect of joy in overcoming challenges and obstacles and really embracing it head on.  Feeling comfortable in the uncomfortable – there’s the courage, and having the joy in doing that, especially when you don’t know where you’re going and you have no idea of the anticipated outcome.  For me, going all the way to Abu Dhabi, I’ve never been out there before!  Quite frankly, on the backside, we didn’t get a lot of validation about who else is going, where is this?  What is happening?  Blind abyss!  But look at what happened?  That was one of the most incredible, revolutionary things in that area, and I hope it becomes a big wave for parents across the world because the parents were really receptive over there.  And we went on blind faith with what we had to offer, and it really made a big impact over there, as an example.  



Douglas’s Website

Douglas’s Books 

Wait Until 8th Pledge

Douglas on Facebook


Subscribe to the Podcast

We are here for you

Join the email list

Join our email list! Joyful Courage is so much more than a podcast! Joyful Courage is the adolescent brand here at Sproutable. We bring support and community to parents of tweens and teens. Not a parent of a teen or tween? No worries, click on the button to sign up to the email list specifically cultivated for you: Preschool, school-aged, nannies, and teachers. We are here for everyone who loves and cares for children.

I'm in!

Classes & coaching

I know that you love listening every week AND I want to encourage you to dig deeper into the learning with me, INVEST in your parenting journey. Casey O'Roarty, the Joyful Courage podcast host, offers classes and private coaching. See our current offerings.


kids, parents, teacher, child, talking, students, classroom, school, middle school, understand, years, place, love, heard, work, feeling, smartphones, happened, family, casey
Douglas Haddad, Casey O'Roarty

Casey O'Roarty 00:02
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 leader 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.

Casey O'Roarty 01:23
Welcome back, listeners. I'm so glad that you're here and I'm so excited to introduce my friend Douglas High dad. Douglas is an award winning middle school teacher best selling author, parenting and education advisor, international speaker and award winning filmmaker. He is the author of The Ultimate Guide to raising teens and tweens and the brand new children's picture book, Maya McLemore, the brave science girl the toad cave, Douglas has been awarded Teacher of the Year in his Connecticut School District, and has served as a teacher ambassador in public education in the state of Connecticut. He has also been awarded as a fund for teachers fellow for engaging students in transformational learning experiences that address equity, diversity and inclusion. Her dad has taught over 3000 students in his 24 years as an educator, working with children from all different backgrounds and abilities and has helped them transition from being kids into young adults. I met Doug in the UAE last year when we got to speak at the parenting unconference and can give a testimony I remember being at the Grand Mosque with you. That's where we hung out and connected, and your enthusiasm for capturing as much of your experience as you could for your students was so sweet and so memorable. I'm so glad to have you on the show. Doug, welcome.

Douglas Haddad 02:53
Oh, thank you so much. It was an honor to be there an honor to meet you and an honor to be on the podcast with you, Casey. Yay.

Casey O'Roarty 02:59
So today, we're going to talk about encouraging discouraged students, specifically those in middle school. And I know, I'll just let you in Doug. So my kids are 18 and 20. So I've noticed that a lot of my conversations kind of follow where my kids are at. So all of you listeners with middle schoolers, you can have that. Yes. Finally moment, we are talking about middle school kids specifically on this show. So before we get into the meat of it all DAG, what drew you to middle school?

Douglas Haddad 03:31
It's a funny story, because it's Yeah, I got drawn to it, by happenstance to be honest with you, because my first ever job that I applied for out of school was to be a college professor at the age of 23. So I came out of school with a bachelor's degree in secondary education to be a biology or some science teacher and a master's degree in biology. And I just loved college. That's all I really knew. So I was interested in being a community college professor because he needed a master's. I just really enjoyed it. Now, I just finished being a teacher in chemistry of nutrition. And I was teaching also the lab portion as well as the lecture. And I just really enjoyed the interaction. And maybe partly, I was very close in age to the college kids. Yeah, when he to 23 years old. And what was funny about it is that when I applied for the job, the professor said to me, he was you have so much enthusiasm, so much energy and like, well, thank you. I'm so excited for this, because you don't want to be a college professor with that energy. I go, Yeah, I love college kids are like, Yeah, you'd be more suited for like the younger kids. You're certified what seven to 12 You're more middle school and like, middle school is like the worst years of my life. No, thank you. But he's the first that said that. So long story short, is when I was finishing up my master's degree, the department supervisor at Leeds carluccio, God bless him. What a great man. He knew somebody at the school that I was up in Simsbury, Connecticut It's a place. I've never been in the same state up north, but there was the department supervisor of a middle school there that he was friendly with. And what he told me is he goes, they want you. And I said they do. I said, he goes, Yeah, he goes, just gotta go up. There. I go, Simsbury where's that he goes, What's up? Can your Massachusetts and I said, that's probably like a 50 minute drive one way. Just tell him I'll pass. No, thank you. So about a week goes by. And all of a sudden, he goes, You know what? They still want you. You have no idea how good that school district is. So long story short, he goes, put on a tie, put on a suit, get up there. I did. I had an interview after the first interview, they offered me to contract. And when he four years later, Casey Wow, I'm still there. So

Casey O'Roarty 05:45
are you at the same school, the same school, middle school?

Douglas Haddad 05:47
It's just unbelievable. I was in the same classroom for 20 years. We just had a big new renovation. So I have a new classroom, which actually looks like more like a college room with all the storage and the lab stuff. But yep, same classroom.

Casey O'Roarty 06:00
Do you have any students of your students? Have you had that yet?

Douglas Haddad 06:03
My first one this year? Yep. Wow. And I was like, wow, that's your mom. Oh, yeah. My mom loved you back. And just you had more hair back then. That's called age. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 06:16
Thanks for pointing it out.

Douglas Haddad 06:17
Yeah, exactly. But no, that's wow, I loved I love it to this day, you know, I never thought Middle School, because they're so young and just kind of have a lot of energy, but they're old enough to get it. And they're young enough to be excited about it. It's like the perfect blend. Oh,

Casey O'Roarty 06:33
thank God for people like you. I mean, I think about 24 years ago. I mean, what you've seen I had, there's this woman, her name is Emily shirk. And she was on the podcast talking about, she had been a middle school teacher. And now she consults around screen being intentional, being tech intentional as parents. And one of the things she talks about is just in her experience in the classroom, she started pre smartphone, as did you, yes. And watching, like when you kind of lift up and out and reflect on how things are different today than they were 24 years ago, like what comes up for you? Oh,

Douglas Haddad 07:16
man, I mean, you're talking about like, I was starting, there wasn't even an email.

Casey O'Roarty 07:22
About that, when I was in college. You know what

Douglas Haddad 07:24
I mean? I do, it's been wild, there's been so many things that kids nowadays they have to navigate. So I would say some of the significantly changes you're looking at, you're fundamentally Well, first of all, children desire three things to be loved, heard and understood. Alright, so those are things that have never really changed. But in this timeframe, we're seeing so many aspects of kids, their anxiety levels have gone up, you know, a lot of it's due to COVID. A lot of that is also due to the technology boom, that continues to take place, like with the smartphones, so students have more access to their fingertips than ever before, you know, and that's a big problem. I see probably about eight or nine and a 10 of my students ages 11 to 14 they are and they have smartphones. And it really is not good for their health mean, science even says that for developing mine in the EMF solar radiation, it comes out, it's just not healthy for them. So the overuse of technology, the leading to social media misuse there. We're still in the infancy phase of this. And in kids, there isn't really a class, I can tell you. We're starting at the middle school to incorporate things we're showing videos like screenagers. I don't know if you've ever heard of that.

Casey O'Roarty 08:34
Yeah, I had Delaney on the plane. I've interviewed the guy that made that movie. Yeah,

Douglas Haddad 08:40
that's awesome. Yeah, it's great. And things have even changed from that

Casey O'Roarty 08:43
movie. Yeah, that's dated. That's like old news movie. Yeah,

Douglas Haddad 08:47
truly, you know. So I would say, you know, really just a lot of that the electronic devices, you know, they want things quick and easy. I've noticed too in the classroom, that I really have to hold them a little bit more in guiding them because their resilience to task or want to initiate a task is lower. Their ability to communicate has kind of gone by the wayside, to be honest with you. And that's both writing, because quite honestly, they have texts and everything gets corrected for them or turned into a word. That's interesting. That's not corrected, but they still don't know how to spell correctly. They're speaking to they don't know how to handle conflict one on one like you and I would have growing up for them. It's just like, they get frozen. And when we play games, even like in our area, it's like, Okay, Mr. AD, what are we playing today? Versus like, oh, here, I'm gonna give you a few balls, you guys are gonna figure out something they need to be guided on a lot. So yeah, those kinds of changes have happened that I've seen over the years.

Casey O'Roarty 09:44
So I loved heard and understood I also appreciate that's what they need. And that's what they and there's like a perception piece around that too. Right. Because, you know, as I work with parents are like, I do love them. I am trying to understand them and it's like no And it's not enough unless their perception is of feeling heard. Feeling love and understood. Do you see any difference now versus earlier in your career? As far as not that they don't need that, but that like that they're experiencing that?

Douglas Haddad 10:18
Well, that's a very good question. Because I feel that as parents, it's important for us and I call this listening to understand versus listening to reprimand. Yeah, in our minds, you know, when somebody's talking a lot of times, we're thinking, what do we want to say back? Right, kids?

Casey O'Roarty 10:33
What's the point? I want to land? Yes, exactly. Versus just

Douglas Haddad 10:36
let's listen, non judgmental, and I still use those old tried and true tactics with kids, where I say, tell me a little bit more how you're feeling. And then I ask a lot of questions. And that's what kids really desire. So has that really changed? No, loved her and understood, have been foundational and fundamental for a long, long time. And they're just the basic needs, but Perception is everything. That was a chord I used to have on the board when I was 2223 years old, and first started, and I used always have a perception is everything, you know, yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 11:06

Douglas Haddad 11:08
it really is like,

Casey O'Roarty 11:08
what about discouragement in the classroom? And I promise listeners, we're not just going to spend all of our time talking about how hard it is. But what is like, have you seen a shift or a trend and what discouragement looks like in the classroom?

Douglas Haddad 11:23
Yeah, well, some of the basics in the classroom, you know, it can vary in a lot of different forms. You know, as a teacher, you know, I see it in body language, when somebody's like slumped in their chair, or their arms are crossed, you know, their eyes are wandering, they're fidgeting, you know, I see if they're engaged in the lesson or not. Like I said, a lot of kids attention has gone down with the technology boom, because they're using it quick and easy. Google, give me the answer. I don't have to think I also see like when it kids disengaged, there's a decrease in participation in the classroom, there's also more of an avoidance for taking risks and afraid to fail. There's more of that aspect. And I think, again, I hate to blame it. But kids are always looking at social media, at others popularity, their likes their followers, and do I match up? Am I not good enough, if I say the wrong thing. So there's more of that they're on stage, you know, both in person, and digitally and virtually. So that's what I've seen. Now, as for teachers, here's another thing I see the past few years have been quite the challenge, as I can attest to, it's been exhausting physically, teaching in front of a computer, and in person, for a hybrid for you know, a couple years I did it day in and day out when a mask seven, eight hours a day. And it's tough, and teachers are less emotionally available for their students. So this has resulted in a lot of burnout. But as well, that feeling of overwhelming has caused a disconnect. And that's what I've seen, like a lot of students used to always rushing, you know, to the classroom after hours and talk with me and hanging out. Now it's a little bit different. You know, that connection isn't face to face as much. I still have kids coming in and say hi, Mr. Added, but the phone has really taken over a lot of that connection, unfortunately. Oh,

Casey O'Roarty 13:10
God. I know. I mean, no. It's such a discouraging conversation because it just feels impossible. Like, unless, you know, I have this fantasy of every parent on the planet. Starting today. No phones till you're 16 years old. Yes. 16 or even longer, but 16 would be good, don't you think? Oh, you don't let them drive? Yes. But we're gonna let them like explore the world, unsupervised, man anyway, yeah, that's my soapbox. I can't deal I but I feel like I can't talk to teachers without talking about that. Because it's, I mean, and I look at my kids, and I, you know, my son and I, we compare our phone use, I'm not really great, either. It's embarrassing. And I'm like, How are you accruing all of these minutes? When you're at school? And he'll be like, Well, Mom, you know, because at his school, they're on a day by day class times are these long periods of time. But really, the engaged part is the first 30 or 45 minutes, and then they've got from what I'm understanding for my kiddo, like 45 minutes to kill, which of course, I'm like, how about a book? But yeah, he's like, you know, nobody cares. And so, you know, does it feel also like it's such an uphill battle with the phones? I mean, unless you have, you know, check them in at the door every day you walk into the classroom, but you only have so many minutes with them. Like I just anyway, I just want to say thank you for your service. And holy shit, it must be really

Douglas Haddad 14:43
hard. Yeah. Well, it starts from the top. It really does in the parameters you put in place as a leader are very important. And I'm talking about from the very top for superintendents and down to principals, you know, and all the team leaders at the schools and supervisors but I'm a big advocate that the phone stay off in a way in the locker, you know? Yeah. However, I understand parents perspective, their concerns they want to get a hold of their child.

Casey O'Roarty 15:09
Why? I know I say that I totally text my kid when he's at school. Yeah, but I don't. Why are you doing today? Usually it's really important.

Douglas Haddad 15:20
Yeah, Mom, I'll go to the bathroom. Hold on. Can I go? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Can you leave your phone there? Oh, no, my mom. I'm just kidding. I don't need to go to bathroom.

Casey O'Roarty 15:27
Yeah, sorry.

Douglas Haddad 15:34
But it's true. You know, it's I mean, that's the battle a little bit. And that's where you're getting back to your point that 16 year old. So there's the pledge to eighth, and that I can we push and in all fairness and reasoning and understanding the social emotional illness of a child saying, Oh, well, if I don't have a phone, I'm going to be picked on Mom, Dad, you don't understand. I'm gonna be out of the loop. Okay, well, if all parents band together in an ideal world, yes, then it really is not necessary until like you said, you know, six, yourself, but I get it in the real world. If you can push to eighth grade and eighth grade, usually in a lot of districts is middle school, like the end of middle school or high school. That's the year where they can learn how to use social Yeah, well, yeah. And that they can make some mistakes here and there. And then when they get to high school, there'll be you know, in a better spot, maybe they'll have more friend groups and connections, and they'll feel more comfortable going in. But when you start talking about kids getting phones in like third grade, fourth, fifth, like six, I don't

Casey O'Roarty 16:31
know, don't do that. If you're listening and your third grader has a phone, take it away, stop that it is not appropriate or needed or unnecessary and damaging. It is damaging. So I joke with children. I want to shame anyone, but I kind of do.

Douglas Haddad 16:46
Yeah, I get it. And I tell our children, I asked my students, I said how many of you, your childhood has ended? And they look at what and I said, Okay, let me reword this. How many of you have smartphones in there? Ah, yeah. And then how many of you looked at your time usage, like you said, and then they start making jokes about it? Oh, I spent four hours and plus minutes on here. And I go, and were you on it at school? And I've said, Well, no, we can't have it on school.

Casey O'Roarty 17:11
Oh, listen, Doug. I got people listening who are like four hours? Nothing. Please, please. No, let that be how much my kids on their phone? Right? Yeah. Anyway, we

Douglas Haddad 17:19
have to understand that a lot of these kids have one on one devices now since COVID. So they're on the screen on their Chromebooks or whatever their you know, MacBooks or iPads at school, a decent amount of time, some more than others. And then they're at home. And it's just that, you know, that whole vicious circle of okay, well, it's time to go to bed, you know, well, that blue light is stimulating a cognitive arousal than sleep, they're coming into school sleepier than ever, you know, so I'm seeing that more so as that's another issue. Okay,

Casey O'Roarty 17:49
let's call ourselves out of the smartphone, rabbit hole. We just got into Thank you, everyone for going on that trip with us. We see you we know. We're all feeling it. Okay. So here's really what I want to, like, play around with you. I have a lot of clients and people who have kids in middle school. And I have some really good friends who are middle school teachers. Right. And so it's so interesting to hear what's challenging from both sides. And so I am thinking you are in the trenches, right? You are someone who obviously cares deeply about kids and are super committed to best practices and leadership. You know, you are, you know, a leader in your school. And you are navigating parents and parental expectations. Right. And you know, some of our kids temperamentally skill wise, they're tough. Yeah, kids. That's right. And I'm wondering, I'm curious, because I know, there's listeners who have those kids. And when I coach parents around talking to schools, I always encourage them to go into a conversation expecting like, We are Team this kid. So how can we stay solution focused for this kid? And I guess I don't know that. That's how every parent shows up. So like, what has been your experience with working with parents of kids that are having a hard time in the classroom? And what do you wish that they knew? Or like, you could give a message? Would it be upside down? Oh, yeah,

Douglas Haddad 19:25
no, absolutely. I think no parent first off, wants to hear that their child is a misbehavior are disruptive. Nobody wants Yeah, because that's a reflection right on us. We did something right. And a lot of times that I hear them sort of talking for their child and making excuses and all that, but we're not trying to ever pass judgment or blame. We are there. And the thing is, with that said, addressing disruptive behavior is like you said, a collaborative approach and all we should be, you know, centered on the students. So it's between the parents, it's between the teachers and oftentimes you bring in the student as well. You know, we want that involved in it. So I'd recommend for the parent to ask the teacher for specifics on what they're seeing is disruptive. And that will actually give a lot more insight for a follow up discussion at home with your child. And I can tell you as a teacher, you know, I've seen some students who are repetitively disruptive you and I talked off the air a little bit with that. And after multiple attempts at unsuccessfully, redirecting, and you know, explicitly stating and repeating classroom expectations, moving their seat, no matter what the tiered interventions that got implemented, we must realize there's underlying stuff that's going on with kids. So that's where we really have to take a step back, because we're seeing it, whether it's being at home, whether it's something they don't feel they can match up to their peers, something's going on, they're being socially excluded, isolated, they're often acting out to be accepted. Now, there's that love, heard and understood and accepted, and get attention any way they can, and as an outlet. So anyway, you know, what can we do? Well, first off, we can involve children and open discussions. And we can, as I mentioned, listen to understand, listen to their perspective, without any judgment, and try to understand their point of view. But we can't just sit there, you know, willy nilly, and just always listen, without establishing clear expectations for behavior at home at school, and consistently reinforced the rules and consequences. It has to be a system in place, because if there's not, the child will, it will first off, if you think that there's a system in place, Does your child know that there's a system because they may say, Well, I didn't know I had to do that. I didn't know that was gonna be grounded for this. So make it very clear, I would say to as a teacher, I'm a firm believer in this. And as a parent, I am to as well as encouraging self reflection, where we help our children, right, reflect on their actions and what the consequences were, you know, we see the impact of their behavior on themselves and let them see it. That fosters a sense of self responsibility and awareness, quite frankly. So again, really exploring these possible causes. I mentioned were underlying issues like academic struggles, I'd say every parent look at their friend group, well, you know, what's that looking like the social challenges and look at their emotional difficulties? Because those are the Spurs for the kinds of behaviors taking place.

Casey O'Roarty 22:11
Yeah. And, you know, I'm thinking about one particular client, you know, the other thing of hearing that your kids been disruptive, like, you know, there's the, there's the situation where it's like, what, this is a new thing, right. And there's also the situation of Yeah, like, this is kind of the, this is who my kid is, right? And that discouragement of the parent. I know, when my kiddo when my son was in middle school, if he had a really good relationship with the teacher, he was rock solid. And when it didn't feel like there was a good relationship, he was more likely to be disruptive, you know, and he and I would talk about that, and like, how can you connect, but I also saw it, and I'm wondering, seeing as you're a leader of teachers, and, you know, just because somebody is a teacher does not mean they're, you know, we all have good people at jobs and not great people at jobs. But how would you encourage a parent who can see, like, it's obvious, and, you know, they have a tough kid. And it's obvious, this teacher doesn't like, my kid doesn't want my kid in the classroom, but that it would be so useful for that teacher to nurture relationship with the student. As far as that being a place of shifting behavior. What are some ways of like starting that conversation with a teacher who's discouraged?

Douglas Haddad 23:39
Oh, absolutely. So you can do that. And this happens, a lot of times where parents I can see who are truly invest in their child, they see they're struggling across the board, or they're struggling with a particular student, I would suggest for the parent to actually contact if you can directly the teacher and have a conversation, say, I just wanted to let you know a little bit about my child. And you know, what makes them tick, just so you know, because I want to thank you for all that you do. And I know it must not be easy trying to hit every single kid. But maybe it would make your job easier. And to have that connection with my child would really mean the world to them. And I know, that would be important, you know, for me, too, as well as a parent because I see my child coming home. And I just want to let you know what I see. And also want to let you know that here's what my child really likes, and here's how, you know they would connect. So really being open and honest and transparent. Because you're right. I mean, in any profession, there's great, there's good, there's fair, and there's poor, but like we're all you know, big kids are all children underneath the layers of our age. And we just show how much as parents, we appreciate the teachers and what they're doing and say how important it is for our child to connect with them that shows that we care and then the teachers being heard and understood and valued. And believe me that makes a big difference. And having that behind the scenes conversation that happened with kids. coaches that I've had over the years like my parents have spoken with coaches who have not been fair have not been nice and behind the scenes have said a few things, and then given me an opportunity, and then that connection worked itself out much better than it could have went south about that. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 25:14
And I heard you kind of say this, like, they're obviously as always expectations at home. Right? We are not that they're always. But we would hope that there is right and relationship and parents doing their work at home. And then I think, too, sometimes there's a little bit of tension when a kid is having a hard time at school. And the message is to the parent, like you need to do something, you're not doing enough, which really is like this kid needs to be punished. Yeah, I know. Right? No. And it's tough. It's tough, right? Because in the meantime, and granted, there are definitely households that perhaps are, you know, permissive or neglectful. And their structure is what is needed. There's also households that are way on the other end of that sort of tyranny. Yeah, right. Right, which is also not helpful. So how do you like, what do you think about that,

Douglas Haddad 26:13
you know, we're talking right now about middle school kind of tween and teen early teen years. And we must realize that the prefrontal cortex, you know, theory, the brain to that is further rational thinking to decision making and all that is not fully developed until the mid 20s. So these are kids that are going to change rapidly, there's going to be a lot of hormonal imbalance and changes and situational maturational crisis. So it's so important for parents to stay educated. And that's one of the my big dreams would be to make it an absolute mandate when you become a parent, that you have to take courses. Now. Yeah. How can you do that? You can't without some incentives. So there should be some governmental assistance or at the state level, to award parents who choose to actually educate themselves because people say they want change, or the world's corrupt or, you know, I don't like how things are, well, you have to change your understanding to change the next generation to build Yeah, that stuff has to happen. So

Casey O'Roarty 27:09
feel free to go to be spreadable.com and get all your That's right. That's where you

Douglas Haddad 27:13
need to go everybody 100% Yeah. So yeah, that's what I would definitely say to that, but also, even more so is if you really want to get something that's consistent. I'm a huge fan of this. And Casey, tell me what you think, is that family contract? Do you guys have that? Or do you know of any of your clients you work with? You talk with us? Wow,

Casey O'Roarty 27:34
we talk about agreements? We talk about family meetings? That's a big positive discipline tool. And I know Julieta talks about a family charter. And it's very collaborative. And I think that if we're talking about any kind of like, contract, because I come, I mean, I think we're pretty close in age, like a contract in my teen years was, here's all the things you have to do to be able to drive your car sign on the dotted line. Right, or else. Yeah, that's not what I promote. I promote, like, let's come up with an agreement around how you're going to stay safe. And we're going to create a win win. We're going to counteroffer an offer and counteroffer until we get to a place that we both feel is good. And then we're going to sign on the dotted line. And we're also going to understand that there's going to be pushed up against this and we'll come back to it and see if it's still relevant if it needs to be tweaked or played with right. So yeah, I think I get triggered in the word contract. Yeah, I think my dad like, Here you go.

Douglas Haddad 28:37
There's a Yeah, like a top down? No, I love that holistic approach. And that's exactly what I'm talking about. That's great. You mean you have every kid you know if they can write it, if they're very young, no verbalize it, but having, like, what is an ideal family look like? And I'd say this doll here and love that. What does it look like? And then hash it all out? They could say, well, at least one family meal together. We don't have cell phones at the table. There's no yelling or screaming. We're having a family fun night, at least I don't know, I would say every night but you know, realistically, your kids are little guy no minor. Well, yeah, once maybe a week. But I would say things and then you have to have it in the agreement. That what are we going to then do if that is not adhered to? Like what can we actually do to uphold our end of the agreement, and if it's not adhere to what's the price of payment, it could be losing a privilege of something or doing an extra contribution. Or if we say like a bad word by accent as an adult, that money goes into the account, although that will be baiting the children would want you to keep those things. Yeah, that's the kind of stuff that gets everybody on the same page and having it like in an open area, almost like on the wall or hung down. And like you said, you can come back to and revisit and amend it. It's not hard fat.

Casey O'Roarty 30:01
Well, and I think one place that I would push back would be, especially if the kids are younger as they get older, I think it's logical to say, you know, if then Right, like, the consequence for this is that as long as it's related and reasonable and respectful, but I wonder, though a little bit about, okay, what's making it difficult to add here to this, like, it's so funny, I just told you, I got off this interview with Julieta, who's our mutual friend and my colleague, and we were talking about firmness, right, and what it means to be firm, and especially with positive discipline, we don't really I mean, other than natural consequences, we're way more focused on solutions than we are, this is what is going to happen to you if you don't do the thing. And so this just gets me thinking, and this is a great place to kind of recognize, oftentimes, we're all doing the best we can with the tools we have in the moment. So when mischief making happens, or mistakes are made, then circling back around, okay, this is our expectation, this is our CO created agreement, what's making it hard to meet that agreement, and let's the problem that needs to be solved so that we can continue to show up this way. You know, and I think there's also times where there's a persistent, consistent push back, that might actually be like, okay, you know, incentive could be useful here. But I really would encourage people to think about first, you know, what's making it difficult? What are the missing skills for this kid to show up? In a way that's expected? Right?

Douglas Haddad 31:43
I couldn't agree more that I couldn't agree more, because that's comes down to there's some holes, or gaps or deficit that they're trying to fill, whether it's a longing for attention, whether they're trying to make up for a lack of a skill, or an understanding and something so You're 100%, right, you want to really be a problem solver or sleuth your child and have them talk and I'm going to say once again, try to do it without having an agenda, which you're going to say, Listen to understand, not judge and be there be available. So

Casey O'Roarty 32:15
to wrap the agenda at the door, which listeners I know it's not easy. It's not easy to drop the agenda or drop the judgment. And it's so important. Do you know Ross Greene's work have you read Ross green? Yeah, yeah, yes. Yeah. Lost at school. Did you read last? Yeah, that was the first book of his that I read. And I just Oh, yeah, you know, lagging skills has always stuck with me. And I love holding our kids, whether they're our students or teenagers, as, again, doing the best they can with the tools they have in the moment. And what we know about brain development and adolescence is they spend a lot of time in their amygdala, they are highly emotional, right. And when we're in our amygdala and highly emotional, we have less access to tools and strategies for doing things in a way that are cooperative and collaborative. Right, and we're way more reactive. And it's not an excuse, but it is a place to find compassion. And I think you said under the surface, right, we talked about the iceberg and positive discipline. So it's like, what's going on? Underneath that? Yes, that is actually fueling, you know, and in some ways promoting this behavior that we're hoping to change, or we're hoping they're going to change it. Yes. 100%.

Douglas Haddad 33:34
And, you know, it really comes down to no matter what that deficit is, and we're going underneath, try to figure it out. Oftentimes, my experience as being a teacher for nearly a quarter of a century and mentoring

Casey O'Roarty 33:47
these things. You have to say it like that.

Douglas Haddad 33:50
I have to say it like that. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 33:53
I half of I turned 50 This year, so Okay, yeah, yeah. Oh,

Douglas Haddad 33:57
yeah. That's right. He's the new 30. Come on.

Casey O'Roarty 34:01
I feel it. I feel great. Yeah, well, I've one more thing that I want to talk about before we wrap up, which is, and that has to do with kind of brain development, and you have this literal laboratory, and you get to see, you know, most of us, it's our one or two or three kids, you get to see all of these kids. Yes. And, you know, you hear a lot about this age, and how they are obsessed with themselves and their experience and their social situations. And couple that with being very black and white thinkers, and often can't see past the end of their nose. Plus, they're having so many first experiences. So they don't know like, Oh, there's another side to this, or oh, I won't feel like this forever. Yes. How do you in the teacher role? How do you support your kids in kind of expanding their perspective expanding their view of themselves in the situations that they're in? Right, especially when they're discouraged? Right?

Douglas Haddad 34:59
Yeah, I mean, First, as a teacher, I like to get my students involved in Project based community based learning real world scenarios. And I want to involve them in stepping outside of their comfort zone, often times they KC, like I did today in class, we had a situation where they had to explain why this FishKill incident happened. And I said, you're gonna have to come up in front of the room and tell the class I said, so really a fish kill incident. Oh, yeah. So it's a win a series of just fish myths just die suddenly. And oh, yeah. So and there's a lot of they have to play these detective and look at data and try to put a timeline together like how it happened. So Oh, cool. Yeah, it's cool. So they have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. That's what I tell them, and engaging them in real world scenarios where they can actually make a difference and be leaders. That's that next level we want from kids. So Oh, before, what I was gonna say, is the whole feeling of I am not enough, I am not enough. And that's, it could be I'm not enough, or I'm not getting enough love. Or I'm just not worthy. Because I'm not feeling that love, or I'm just not as smart as the other. I'm not enough. That's that feeling inside. So to make them enough, is to put them in a position where they can succeed, help them set goals, help them achieve little successes. So now all of a sudden, it becomes a positive cyclical experience for them, have them explore the power of being a global citizen and learning and caring and having the attention to help others. And really making a difference. No one apple is I got coming up, I got a plastic pollution interdisciplinary unit that I wrote, for all the teachers on my team, we have a timeline and get charted where the kids are going to go through, they're going to have a debate on this topic, they're going to be writing our position letter to Congress, they're going to think we have that feeling of like, here's a PSA announcement, and how I can help reduce like single use plastics and what I can do to change the world. So from that vantage point, when you give kids different opportunities and their strengths and weaknesses, and make them leaders and empower them, and that's how you win the ballgame. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 36:54
I love that. And I love that mantra of getting comfortable in the uncomfortable. I was just working with a client today, who has a seventh grader. And we were talking about just his lack of seeming lack of tolerance around discomfort. And she and I were kind of playing with like some, you know, that self reflection piece that noticing. And I was sharing with her, you know, you can talk about kind of like a green, yellow, red growth zone, right? Green, you're not uncomfortable, you're good. You feel solid, you feel regulated. Yellow might be like, Oh, I don't really want to do this, but I'll do it. Right. I don't really love this. But I'm following through on it. Right, which is such a beautiful place of growth. And then there's continuum even inside of the yellow, right? Red, I'm having a panic attack. Right, right. So red isn't necessarily a growth zone. Green isn't a growth zone, but playing in the yellow. Right, and I'm sharing this with you, but with listeners to to give language because I think we can say you have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable and I'm gonna give you experiences, and also creating scaffolding. How do you create scaffolding for because one kid, I know for me, I'm like, what you want me to get in front of the group? Okay, do I get a mic? Like, how long do I have? Because I can talk for 45 minutes? Yeah, right. And then there's other people who are like, Hell, no, that is a red zone. So how do you build scaffolding? What is your advice for building scaffolding around that growing tolerance of discomfort?

Douglas Haddad 38:38
Yeah, that's a great question. In the classroom, depending on the activity I'm doing, it could be that one child gets a certain amount of like graphic organizers to help them organize themselves. Because a lot of kids can't do multi step processing. They have executive functioning issues that they deal with. But we're working in a group for this fish kill I was saying, and I wanted to strategically kind of put the groups together in a manner where some kids have certain strengths that they can help the other guests who have other areas of growth. And what happened was table was beautiful, is I had one group that said, we want to go first we want to go first. And we was only two out of four the kids do to me, they're like, really? Early

Casey O'Roarty 39:20
that kid

Douglas Haddad 39:21
Yeah. And then the other two are like, I don't know if I could do it. And then your tours. Hey, come on, but you could do it. You only have to see one of these factors. I'll see the other this person was at the other and then I would came over I said guess what? You get it done first. You can breathe, you're done. I said shows and you can do it. And I know you can do it. So and also they went up there and we're going out during like a little recess time and said Mr. Haddad right next to me. Did you like what I said? were you proud of me? Said I sure was nice shirt. Awesome. So those kinds of things by design, the grouping the words of encouragement in the moment, you know, one on one in front of the group and also the peer pressure positively helps. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 40:01
I love that. I love that. And I love your declaration of faith in them. Oh, you know, that's so powerful for future powerful. Absolutely. Oh, thank you. Thank you for how you support kids. Doug, I'm so glad you're out there doing your work.

Douglas Haddad 40:17
Thank you so much. I love it. It's no better job. But wake up in the morning every day. I'm like a kid in the candy store. I don't go to work. I called school and I call it impacting lives. I just didn't impact my life, probably more than I do them. So

Casey O'Roarty 40:29
I just it's so beautiful. So I have a final question that I asked all my guests, which is what does joyful courage mean to you?

Douglas Haddad 40:38
So mindset to me. And it's really a way to face obstacles and challenges with a positive, optimistic outlook. I know, I find it feeling I don't know, just the whole aspect of joy in overcoming challenges and obstacles and really embracing it head on, again, feeling comfortable in the uncomfortable. There's the courage, you know, and having that joy and doing that, especially when you don't know where you're going. I think that's important. And you have no idea of the anticipated outcome. For me going all the way to Abu Dhabi. I've never been out there before. And quite frankly, on the backside, and you know, probably I did, we didn't get a lot of validation that who else is going where's this?

Casey O'Roarty 41:18
What is happening either

Douglas Haddad 41:21
blind faith, blind abyss and look at what happened. That was one of the most incredible, you know, revolutionary things over in that area that and I'm hoping that becomes a big way for parents across the world because the parents were really receptive over there. And we went on faith with what we had to offer. And it really made a big impact over there. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 41:41
Where can people find you and follow your work? And what Yeah, so

Douglas Haddad 41:45
I have an official website, Douglas had ad.com. Okay, social media, all the goods, Instagram, Facebook, tick tock. And I just recently wrote a book if I could share with my cool. So here it is my McClure, the brave science girl that Toad cave talks about inspiration my students have inspired me to write this book, my four and a half year old daughter was a huge inspiration. And it's just a story of courage speak of that conviction, compassion, and friendship and really shows that when we unite together on a common mission, that anything is possible. And I think for girls out there specifically, I've seen such like disparity of historically more males than females in STEM and STEAM related professions. So girls out there you have a voice. I want you guys to be changemakers of the world, and really lead the way toward a brighter tomorrow. And that's what this character is all about my McLaren WSOP you can find this on Amazon, you could find that at Barnes and Noble. And like I said, you could find me on my website. So thank you very much.

Casey O'Roarty 42:45
Yay. Thank you so much, Doug. This is awesome. Thank you

Casey O'Roarty 42:55
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 be sprouted bowl.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

See more