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Self-Driven Child with William Stixrud and Ned Johnson


Communication Q+A with Dr. William Stixrud and Ned Johnson

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This is episode 53 and today I’m here with Dr. William Stixrud and Ned Johnson talking about the self-driven child.

William R. Stixrud, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychologist and founder of The Stixrud Group, a lifespan neuropsychology practice. He is also a member of the Adjunct Faculty of the Children’s National Medical Center, and he holds a faculty appointment as Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the George Washington School of Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Stixrud is a frequent lecturer, and he has authored scientific articles on Transcendental Meditation and book chapters on meditation and the integration of the arts into education. Dr. Stixrud has been quoted often in publications including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Times of LondonScientific American,, NPR, The Wall Street JournalBusinessweekBarron’s, and Vogue

Dr. Stixrud holds a doctorate degree in School Psychology from the University of Minnesota. He did his training in neuropsychology at the Children’s Hospital of Boston (as a fellow of the Harvard Medical School) and Tufts New England Medical Center. Dr. Stixrud is also a rock and roll musician and plays in the band Close Enough. 

Ned Johnson is an author, speaker, and founder of PrepMatters, an educational company providing academic tutoring, educational planning, and standardized test preparation. 

A professional “tutor-geek” since 1993, Ned has spent nearly 40,000 one-on-one hours helping students conquer an alphabet of standardized tests and honing his interpersonal skills. A battle-tested veteran in the fields of test prep, stress regulation, and student performance, Ned coaches clients to manage their anxiety and find the motivation to reach their full potential. In 2006, Ned co-authored the book Conquering the SAT: How Parents Can Help Students Overcome the Pressure and Succeed, which tackles the outsized role anxiety plays in standardized testing. With Dr. William Stixrud, Ned co-authored The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. Their book explores how fostering children’s autonomy can help solve two challenges endemic to kids today: facing anxiety and developing intrinsic motivation. Ned is a sought-after speaker and teen coach on study skills, sleep deprivation, parent-teen dynamics, and test anxiety, and his work is featured in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, NPR, BBC, and many others. 

Adventure of the Week

I share the adventure of my teen learning to drive.

Our Little Obsession

I share the family read alouds we are loving right now: Mañanaland and Greenglass House.


Stress: We discuss what is creating so much stress in kids today. 

Agency: We talk about what happens when a parent refuses to let their child own their own life.

Role: We explain why we recommend parents step into the role of consultant instead of enforcer.

Anxiety: We walk through what it means to be a non-anxious presence for your child and why it’s important.

Motivation: They go over the key ingredients to motivation.

Adolescence: They fill us in on some of the brain development that’s happening during adolescence.

Neurodiversity: We cover if kids with ADHD or ASD or learning differences can be self-driven children.

Success: We break down the myth that high grades, top test scores, and a prestigious college education is the singular path to success.

Testing: Ned gives advice for helping our children through testing while still honoring their ownership of the journey.

Q & A

We answer the question, “I really enjoyed the book but it lacked examples of life outside the school system. I would love to know how the authors would approach either homeschooling or unschooling and giving more control to children in those learning lifestyles.”

Dive Deeper

Disclosure: When I recommend a product that I believe will add value for you, it may contain an affiliate link, and when you click the link to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Bucket System



Greenglass House

The Self-Driven Child

Self-Driven Child on Facebook

The Stixrud Group

Prep Matters

Sage Family Podcast 48: Teens with Blake Boles

Homeschooling Book List

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

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