“How do I even begin to describe what the Raising Lions method did for my family? There are no words. It truly was exactly what we needed and in all honesty, has been a complete miracle.
Our son began having behavior problems around age 3. It continued to get worse and for many years included extremely embarrassing, frustrating, and highly emotional set-backs and experiences. The gap between those experiences and "frustrating" began to be our daily life routine. There were no "good days". It was all hard. At this rate, it didn't take long for me to realize that I did not enjoy my child. I didn't even like him. Dealing with him and being around him was almost unbearable. I didn't like being around him at all, and I began to see that his peers at school, teachers, and even his siblings and father felt the same way. Some of his major struggles were: not listening or caring about others, having no respect for adult authority, kicking and hitting, bothering others on purpose, invading other's personal space constantly, emotionally exploding in anger or tears, unable to follow directions, no regard or empathy for others, unable to focus and work in school, and constant yelling and fighting and screaming from all members of our family.
As bad as it was, the hardest part was that his behavior didn't make sense to me. Because I knew that in spite of his behavior, he had a very tender heart. He was talented and creative and could be cheerful at times. He had a bright intellect and a love for life. He was very smart, so I couldn't understand how he was so unable to function in society and at home.
One particular heartbreaking experience was when I attended my son's sunday school class to observe what was happening there and see if I could help. There were about eight 7-year-olds, two Sunday school teachers, and myself in the class. The teacher was talking about how each kid was special and had talents. She had called the mother's beforehand to get a list of special traits about our child. As the teacher was reading each child's talents, she got to my son and said "His mom said he is great at sharing and he is also a good runner". My son was beaming at the praise and so proud to hear these good words be spoken about him. Immediately, one 7 year old girl piped up and said "All the kids at school hate Bennett". The room was dead silent and it was as if a balloon full of all that good energy had popped, and what was left was a deflated and painful feeling of despair. My son's face fell, although he acted as if he hadn't heard or didn't care. The teacher tried desperately to help recover the situation, but the damage had been done. And the worst part was - I knew that those hurtful words were very much true. Kids at school and church did not want to play with my son, or even sit by him. He was unpredictable and aggressive and constantly in trouble. He began to be the scape-goat for all problems. The kids knew how to push his buttons and would purposefully egg him on until he reacted or exploded with aggression. More than once, when there was a problem at school, a child would call out "It was Bennett's fault!", when the teacher or I had seen for ourselves that Bennett was not even in the vicinity of the said crime. This hurt me the very most. I was scared for my sons future and success. How could he succeed in life when he was seen as a pariah and a trouble-maker? How could I reverse the incredible damage that was being done?
So here, at the age of 7 and in his 2nd grade of elementary school, everything came to an ugly head. His teachers said they didn't know what to do with him, and even said they'd never worked with a kid like this before. That blew my mind! Had they not had "problem kids" before? Apparently, not like this. And that made me extremely scared. I finally resigned myself to the idea that maybe there was some neurological problem, perhaps ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Of course, it had been suggested before, but I truly didn't believe he had any of those conditions. But what else was I to do? So my husband and I, along with my son's two teachers, filled out the questionnaire to assess his behavior. We submitted the paperwork it to his pediatrician and waited nervously for a score and diagnosis. As we waited, I considered home-schooling or transferring my son to a school more suited to his needs. Maybe he needed more "hands-on" or project based learning? Maybe mainstream school was not for him? His needs and our struggles were constantly at the fore-front of my mind and it seemed like an impossible burden to bear. It was affecting every part of our life.
While I waited to receive a diagnosis form the pediatrician, I was still scrambling for any other answer or explanation for his behavior. I just had to find an answer that could help us now! A friend, the year previous, had mentioned to me the approach of Joe Newman and his method for helping kids. I gave it enough attention to look up the Raising Lions website and read a few blog posts, but I never looked into it further than that. However, now at this time of deep desperation, some miracle brought to my remembrance this Raising Lions method and I remembered there was a book written by Joe. I looked it up on Amazon and felt that $13 was the least I could invest in my son's future and our sanity, and I bought the book. I was nervous, however, because I'd tried to read many parenting books before, and I always stopped mid-way feeling discourage. Each book I tried seemed too complex, and made me feel guilty and overwhelmed. I would try to implement ideas and strategies from said books, only for them to backfire or be ineffective. The methods were too complex or detailed to maintain. No one could implement these ideas day after day and not collapse from exhaustion! So when my copy of Raising Lions arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. The book was slim and simple and upon opening, got right to the heart of my son's needs. This was not a giant novel full of "psycho-babble" for my tired mind to consume, but a straightforward explanation of a basic method.
I was hooked after reading the introduction. It was actually a very entertaining read. Every word felt like pure truth pouring into my mind. It was describing to perfection my life with my son. I saw him in the pages and instantly I knew that this book was for us. I had barely read the first chapter when I knew "He is going to be okay. We don't have to switch schools. There is nothing wrong with his mind. He is going to be just fine. We are all going to be okay". Hope. This was the first time I felt like there was hope for us.
Days later, my family was leaving for a trip to California, and I was carrying my new book along with me for the flight. As we were driving to the airport, I got a call from the pediatrician's office, saying the the questionnaire had been graded and and confirmed that my son did have ADHD and ODD. The nurse on the line then asked me when I'd like to bring him in so we could get him some medication and treatment. I made the appointment but as I hung up, I recall feeling like the diagnosis was incorrect and the appointment would not be needed. This knowledge was only possible because of the enlightenment I had received from the first few chapters of Raising Lions.
Our family vacation went fairly well, and we began to implement the method in simple ways. It helped throughout the trip, but I noticed that during our trip, there was little need for the method. My son was loving the beach and the amusement park and was completely engaged and focused. I had seen this side of him before and eventually said to my husband "I don't think he has an inability to focus. I think he just doesn't focus when he doesn't WANT to focus". My husband said emphatically "I absolutely agree." It was then that we both realized we weren't dealing with an attention deficit problem, we were dealing with a behavior problem. And the best part was, now we had to tools we needed to remedy it.
A week later, I cancelled the appointment with the pediatrician, knowing we wouldn't need it, and I bought another copy of the book. I sent it with my husband on his next business trip and during his layover he texted me and said "I really like this book!" Neither of us had even finished reading it, but we already knew it was what exactly what we needed. My husband loved the simplicity and straight-forward approach to helping our child. We were starting to feel really excited and realized that the tables were turning. We starting to get some power back in our life.
I loved reading the book and could not put it down. Instead of feeling depressed and overwhelmed by the text, I felt empowered, enlightened and in control. I felt peace. As I read I realized what I needed to change and how I needed to view my son differently. I loved that the method is simple, straightforward, and always predictable. I was relieved to know I didn't have to re-invent the wheel of consequences or file through my brain for "What was that technique for the grocery store? What is the process for soothing him out of a tantrum?". No. None of that. The method is the same, simple process for every scenario and environment. And I began to see that THAT predictability, THAT foundation of function, brought peace not only to me and my husband, but also to my son. We began to hold him accountable and he began to see and predict, as well as I, how any scenario would play out. And because he saw this road-map so clearly in front of him, he began to change his choices. Wow. That is powerful. He wasn't compelled to change, he chose to change.
I saw a difference in my son within two days of implementing the method. My husband and I were in the kitchen talking across the room to each other. My son came right up to me and interrupted the conversation with a loud outburst of information for me. However, a few words into his sentence, he stopped talking and corrected himself by saying, "Oh, I'm sorry". He then waited for my husband and I to finish what we were saying. AMAZED! That's what I felt. Completely amazed! My son was beginning to see outside himself and see that other people had needs and he had boundaries. That was only the beginning of the transformation. Within weeks I saw his confidence grow as he felt respected and capable. I saw his peace of mind and saw the weight that was removed from his tiny shoulders when he realized that mom and dad are in charge, and he didn't have to control everything. He started to learn that when we asked him to do something, we expected it to be done. He knew now that when we asked, he needed to do. He, for the first time ever, was the quickest to get his pajamas on at night, not only beating his sisters, but also beating his own "getting dressed" record by an hour! (Yes, it used to take him an hour to get dressed).
It has been 9 months since we began this method, but I feel my son has matured 3 years. We worked very hard with his school, his teachers, and his church leaders, to train them in the Raising Lions way. We felt that our son's behavior problems were so extensive that he needed an all-immersive exposure to this method. That continuity helped him so much. Joe Newman, who I had emailed and had a brief conversation with, was especially helpful in this process. He shared some information that would become crucial as our son's teachers adopted the method at school. I was completely impressed by Joe's willingness and sincerity in helping us.
My son's teachers were amazed at the simplicity of the plan. When we approached the principal, and we read the plan to him, he said "Wow. I don't see why anyone couldn't do this. A lot of parents come in with a really complicated plan, but this seems so simple." The teachers, principal, extracurricular teachers, and even recess aides were all on board. My son began to complete his school work, and even make a few friends. Reports of aggression and hitting at school began to diminish, and at the end of the school year I felt like we had made significant progress.
We are not out of the woods. We still have things we work on daily, and my son still has daily breaks. He still has trouble navigating certain social situations, and he still has peers that don't understand him and don't enjoy being with him. But I am not the only one that can see the miracle that has happened in our home and with our son. The biggest miracle is that I now LOVE to be with him. I can honestly say that I enjoy my son. I see his good qualities, along with his weaknesses, and I can see that many of his traits will serve him well in the future. He is a special and talented boy, and he has so much to give the world. I'm so glad that now, his abilities are shining through! Others are noticing this change in him. Even my son notices it now. He now can feel that he's not "trouble". Many days, he is the most cheerful person in our house! He works happily and enjoys life, and so do we. My husband has said many times "This method has saved my relationship with my son." Now, yelling at our son is an extremely rare occurrence. Our home is filled with so much more peace and goodness and certainty. It has changed how I see my child, and all people for that matter. I use the method with my daughters as well, who have very different personalities. The beauty of this method is how universal and effective it truly is. I cannot say enough words about the miracles we've seen take place because of Joe Newman and Raising Lions. I will forever be grateful that this book came into my life. Thank you Joe!”
Katie B. - Parent