Joe Newman at his home office in Santa Monica, California.

Joe Newman at his home office in Santa Monica, California.

In 1970 he was diagnosed ADHD and medicated with Ritalin.  Everywhere he went, the playground, the classroom, even at home, Joe heard one message loud and clear: you’re broken; your brain doesn't work; you don’t belong here." No surprises when, at eighteen, he shaved his hair into a mohawk and took off to surf the waves and search for a purpose. It was out in the world, surfing the coastlines of the Caribbean and Central America, listening to punk rock, working scores of odd jobs, that Joe realized he was not in fact broken. Out in the world, away from the tethers of school and home, Joe realized that those same qualities which had caused him and those around him suffering as a kid, his aggression, his rapid fire brain, his stubborness, were all qualities that when put in the right context became sources of positivity and value.  Aggression became contagious passion, distractibility became multi-tasking, and stubborness became tenacity.  In light of this newfound confidence, he had to wonder: how many children were out there, just like him, with ferocious spirits and no clue what to do with them? 

His book, Raising Lions, is the culmination of a 25-year journey working with the most difficult kids and a desire to build deep respect and love into our educational institutions and families. 

He teaches parents and teachers simple, practical methods to understand and motivate all our children.  The University of California, Santa Barbara recently did a year-long research study on his method’s effects on student behavior, motivation and engagement. The results showed a 50% drop in off-task behaviors in the 16 Elementary school classrooms that used his methods. 

The methods Joe outlines in his book are practical, easy to implement and based on common sense. The method is revolutionary. Instead of observing the child and treating a "condition", Raising Lions helps teachers determine the causes of a child's behavior and identifies a step-by-step approach to correct it, shifting the way adults and children interact everyday. With these shifts in interaction, children develop the ability to internally self-regulate, and teachers set boundaries, while recognizing the voice and autonomy of the child. In layman’s terms, this means teachers spend less time correcting behavior and more time teaching motivated children.

This research was presented at the ISPA (International School Psychologists Association) Conference in Tokyo, Japan in July of 2018, and at the APA conference in San Francisco, California in August of 2018.  

In 2018 Joe Newman was the featured guest on GOOP, The Tools, and the Mixed Messages podcasts.  He’s currently finishing his second book.