Ben Boswell M.D. (’10) and his wife Lisa Boswell, recently wrote their first book, Too Much Love, Too Much Discipline, a guide to help parents better understand the best techniques to raise children with the right blend of love and discipline. Before attending AUC, Dr. Boswell was a Behavioral Specialist Consultant and Child and Family Therapist. He’ll begin a Psychiatry residency at Drexel University in Philadelphia in June.
What inspired you to write the book?
Whenever I’m asked this question, I can’t help but think back to a truly inspiring moment. Back in June 2002, my four-year old client, Evan, as his mother and I stood silently by, was at last brushing his teeth on his own… but with one hand… and with the other, he was simultaneously shoveling small handfuls of M&Ms into his mouth… occasionally stopping to look up at me and smile. It was pretty hard not to laugh. Evan had recently reached other behavioral goals his mother had set: he had ceased all tantrums and physically aggressive behavior towards her and was now following her directions for the first time ever. Just months before, she had told me of the countless attempts she had made at changing his behavior and how helpless and frustrated she felt each time she failed. Her attempts were based on advice from friends, teachers, even pediatricians. I knew those attempts were doomed to fail from my own experiences as a Behavioral Specialist Consultant and Child and Family Therapist, working with children who exhibited varying degrees of a wide range of maladaptive behaviors in the home, school, daycare and foster care. Much of my approach back then had evolved from the questions I asked the parents of these children. Their surprising answers revealed how just a few missteps kept them from reaching their goals for their sons and daughters. A few actually had the answers to begin initiating positive change in their children. They would tell me in so many words that a child needs to learn self-discipline, responsibility, frustration tolerance, strong self esteem, and a respect for authority, yet when I asked them how they were teaching those lessons at home, many struggled for a response. The key missing piece for not only Evan’s improvement, but every child whose parents were consistent in their follow through, was their child’s individual strengths, weaknesses, preferences, dislikes, and the motivation behind their behavior. I realized right then and there the need for a step-by-step resource that could teach parents how to not only understand behavior in their own child, but also how to tailor an individualized plan to shape and change that behavior. A resource that laid out the lessons all children need to learn to be truly prepared for the real world. A do-it-yourself book on changing a child’s maladaptive behavior that actually worked. All of that and more can be found in Too Much Love, Too Much Discipline.
Can you explain the title? Are you suggesting that children can never have too much love and/or too much discipline?
The title Too Much Love, Too Much Discipline is essentially a mnemonic that refers to the book’s proactive, two-pronged system that not only helps correct behavioral problems, but also teaches children major life lessons that can prepare them for a career of competence, flexibility, and success. We liken the learning of maladaptive behavioral patterns to the learning of a language. A person’s first language is learned effortlessly and comes naturally while languages learned later in life require much more effort. Similarly, a child who has a ‘first language’ of maladaptive behavior patterns requires more practice and more repetition to correct. The ‘too much’ reminds parents of this fact and that they now need to do more, and create more opportunities, in order for their children to learn proper behavior.
How did you juggle medical school with the demands of writing a book?
Once Lisa and I decided to go ahead and write the book, the big question was how to write it. We came up with what we thought was a novel solution and a unique way to circumvent the clinical jargon, making the book as helpful, easy-to-grasp, and easy-to-follow as possible for our readers: I would provide the raw data and anecdotal information and Lisa would actually write the book from a layperson’s perspective. To do that, we taped literally hundreds of hours of our conversations and discussions when I wasn’t in class, and Lisa would then write when I went back to class or was studying. Our goal was to simulate a series of in-the-home interactions between a parent and myself. These interactions would involve an assessment of an individual child’s situation and the subsequent formation of a strategy to help him or her achieve success.
What are you hoping to match into this spring?
Fortunately, thanks to AUC’s curriculum and student preparation, I don’t have to wait. I recently pre-matched at Drexel University in Philadelphia, my first choice, and will be beginning my PGY-1 in Psychiatry this June. To complete my medical education, I plan to do a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.