Educator & Bestselling Author of The Gift of Failure & The Addiction Inoculation, Recovery & Prevention Coach
Jessica Lahey speaks to parents, educators, school administrators, coaches, pastors, and community leaders about the science of learning, motivation, engagement, and substance abuse prevention, all in service to the belief that adults have the power to help kids become more autonomous, competent, connected, and fulfilled. Her first book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed was a New York Times bestseller and has empowered so many to strengthen home-school partnerships, support kids as they learn from their mistakes, and forge stronger, more trusting relationships with children. Her second book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence is the culmination of Lahey’s experience as an alcoholic with a decade of recovery, the parent of two kids, and twenty years in the classroom teaching English, Latin, and writing in every grade from six to twelve and five of those years were spent teaching in an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab for adolescents. Read More >
The Gift of Failure
The Addiction Inoculation
How Do We Get Kids Engaged in Learning
Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence
Changing the Odds
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
3 Ways to Get Intrinsic Motivation
Learning to Let Go
Letting Your Kids Make Their Own Mistakes
Modern parenting has become defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness. We all know parents who rush to school to deliver forgotten assignments, challenge teachers on disappointing report cards, mastermind their children’s friendships or interfere on the playing field. According to teacher and bestselling author, Jessica Lahey, this “overparenting” has the potential to both ruin children’s confidence and undermine their education. By letting go and allowing children to learn how to solve problems on their own, we give them the tools to grow up to be self-reliant, confident and successful adults. That’s the Gift of Failure. Jessica reminds us that teachers don’t just teach reading, writing or arithmetic. Like coaches and others who work with children, they also teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint and foresight — important life skills that shape stronger futures. In this powerful presentation that can be tailored to parents, educators, administrators, coaches, community members and students at all grade levels, Jessica Lahey champions failure as a crucial element of long-term success. She also provides indispensable advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, competitive sports and more.
Offering three different versions of this talk (for parents, educators and kids), Lahey helps make the statistics and research come alive, and includes personal anecdotes culled from over twenty years spent teaching, parenting, and mentoring kids. Read More >
Parent talk: Lahey offers an evidence-based exploration of what it means when experts proclaim, “Substance abuse is preventable.” She begins with an overview of why humans use and abuse substances, an explanation of why the adolescent brain is uniquely wired for novelty and the risk of substance use while being uniquely vulnerable to those substances in very specific ways. She will identify the major risk factors for substance abuse and explain what adults can do to overcome the weight of a given child's risk factors. Lahey offers an overview of the research as well as concrete, practical takeaways adults can use to change their thinking and behavior and begin preventing childhood substance use and abuse at home. Parents will leave Lahey’s talks feeling informed, challenged, empowered and entertained.
Educator talk: Substance abuse is preventable, and yet only 57 percent of schools in the United States offer substance abuse prevention programs. Of those 57 percent, only ten percent are based on evidence. Lahey believes can do so much better. Lahey will detail the research on substance abuse prevention and help teachers, counselors, and administration know what to look for in evidence based, effective substance abuse prevention programs that begin in early childhood and extend through high school and beyond. Educators will leave Lahey’s talks feeling informed, empowered and entertained.
Kid talk: Years of research on the existing substance abuse prevention programs reveal that scare tactic, “just say no” and punishment-oriented programs do not work. In fact, some of these programs actually increase the chances kids will try substances. Effective programs arm kids with real data about their brains and cognitive development the harm addictive substances can have on their developing brains and give them solid refusal skills based in inoculation theory. The more kids know about substance use, the more they can overcome the incomplete or false assumptions we all tend to harbor, such as the belief that “everyone is doing it,” and the belief that everyone else values and consumes more alcohol than they really do. Kids will leave Lahey’s talks feeling informed, empowered and entertained. Read Less ^
The lessons of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed extend beyond parenting and education, and the skill sets Jess Lahey writes about: building competence, resilience, engagement and motivation are essential for success in the workplace, especially as young adults move into their first adult jobs. Jess speaks at corporations and conventions about moving beyond workplace and personal failures by considering what went wrong, what went well, and leaving the mistakes behind while learning from them. Jess has had the opportunity to share the science and stories of The Gift of Failure at companies as diverse as Clif Bar, US Club Soccer, IDEO, Canyon Ranch, Microsoft, Google, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and at conventions such as Harvard’s Learning and the Brain and the Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania and California Conferences for Women.
Sports are an incredible testing ground for an athlete’s ability to learn from failure; to figure out what did not work, what did, and move forward from a place of learning and increased focus. Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure and The Addiction Inoculation teaches coaches and athletes that they have the ability to fuel this learning though experience by creating a culture of adaptation and resilience. What many coaches may not know, however, is they also have the ability to shape attitudes around substance use through modeling and careful selection of team leaders, who have an outsized impact on substance use in sports. Lahey speaks to teams and organizations such as US Club Soccer in order to help coaches and athletes understand the power they have to become more resilient and experienced in their sport while promoting a culture of healthy choices around drugs and alcohol for everyone, athletes and fans alike.
Current college students face unprecedented hurdles thanks to the recent pandemic and mental health crisis among young adults. Consequently, many students find themselves unprepared to make decisions, manage conflict, and self-advocate effectively with the people best positioned to help them make the most of their education and move into the workforce. Jessica Lahey uses the science of resilience, competence, and motivation to help students engage in their own education while learning how to set short and long term goals in order to plan ahead for a life beyond college. Finally, Lahey weaves the science of substance use prevention into her messaging around competence and self-efficacy in order to help young adults face the challenges ahead of them without having to resort to addictive substances in order to cope. Lahey’s message is a powerful vote of confidence for young adults looking to take control of their lives and for the parents of these young adults as they struggle to find ways to let go of that control so their kids can grow up on their own terms.
"It was such a pleasure to work with Jess on our event. She was one of the most gracious and generous speakers we've ever worked with.
"Jessica was absolutely AMAZING! I really appreciated the time she took to meet with students prior to her presentation. She seemed genuinely concerned about helping everyone and shared may resources for students to reference."
"Things with Jessica went very, very well. We had a great turnout and sold out all of the books we had ordered. Feedback from our parent community has been great."
"Jessica’s presentation focused on teaching children the intrinsic value of resilience, perseverance and learning from a growth-oriented mindset. In essence, how to foster and promote their success within a supportive framework that discourages parents from over scheduling and hovering. It was a good reminder to us all that it’s okay for a child to experience small and reasonable failures. It’s all about “the getting up” when you’re knocked down. Jess is very articulate and persuasive and she was a joy to work with. We highly recommend her."
"She was fantastic!!! I love her message and her energy!! I received several emails this am from parents who just loved it!!"
"Jessica presented to be both the parent community at Severn School as well as the Middle School and Upper School students. The information she presented to parents was spot-on and very well received. Her discussion on the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation was a great foundation in which to understand ways parents could support their children to become more independent. She had a very nice way of giving parents ‘permission’ and reasons grounded in research to ‘back off’ as their children learn and grow with new responsibilities. Jessica is a speaker who is very relatable and connects easily with her audiences!"
"Jessica Lahey delivered a captivating keynote talk at LearnFest’17 about the importance of intrinsic motivation and its connection to student success. Jessica is an energetic storyteller who delivers powerful advice for teaching and raising resilient children. Her humorous delivery coupled with her experience as a classroom teacher delighted a diverse audience of teachers and parents."
"Jessica’s talk was engaging and spot-on, and the kind of thought-provoking content with which we are hoping to engage our parent and teacher audience. She was generous with her time both before and after the talk, answering questions for folks. She made it a special night for all!"
"Jessica gets middle school! At our recent parent event, Jessica did a wonderful job of connecting the realities of parenting a middle school child with the larger topic of resilience. The audience left with both specific strategies to try at home as well as a framework for understanding the true needs of adolescents. As a parent and an educator, we were impressed and grateful.”
"We cannot begin to overstate how powerful and timely her message was for our community. Since her talk, dozens of parents have approached us noting that Jessica was the “best speaker the school has ever had,” or “is there a way we could have her speak on an annual basis?” We can say without equivocation that this praise is spot on. Jessica is personable, incredibly easy to work with, and relates beautifully to a wide-ranging audience. We were blessed to have her speak to our community, and would highly recommend her!"
"Jessica spoke to a rapt audience of parents and teachers from our school as well as from the surrounding community. She explained pertinent research in clear and easily understood terms, and dispensed guidance and advice in a supportive and friendly manner. Everyone left with at least one new skill to apply in their classrooms or around the dinner table at homework time. Jessica’s anecdotes about her own experiences as a mother and teacher were not only entertaining; they made us feel that we were benefiting from the wisdom of a trusted friend. We highly recommend her for your school community, and are looking forward to reading her book!"
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