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The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

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"It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most radical and important books on raising healthy, resilient, purpose-driven kids." - Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege "An invaluable resource for the thinking parent." - Lisa Damour, author of Untangled "Compelling, revolutionary, and wise, The Self-Driven Child empowers parents with the "It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most radical and important books on raising healthy, resilient, purpose-driven kids." - Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege "An invaluable resource for the thinking parent." - Lisa Damour, author of Untangled "Compelling, revolutionary, and wise, The Self-Driven Child empowers parents with the courage, the tools, and the mindset to reduce toxic stress, and to foster our child's capacity for resilience. Its message is one every parent needs to hear." --Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of The Whole Brain Child "Read it. Your children will thank you." - Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking any real motivation. Many complained that they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school or hit college and unraveled. Bill is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps kids gripped by anxiety or struggling to learn. Ned is a motivational coach who runs an elite tutoring service. Together they discovered that the best antidote to stress is to give kids more of a sense of control over their lives. But this doesn't mean giving up your authority as a parent. In this groundbreaking book they reveal how you can actively help your child to sculpt a brain that is resilient, stress-proof and ready to take on new challenges. The Self-Driven Child offers a combination of cutting-edge brain science, the latest discoveries in behavioral therapy, and case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens Bill and Ned have helped over the years to teach you how to set your child on the real road to success. As parents, we can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they will have to take the wheel and map out their own path. But there is a lot you can do before then to help them find their passion and tackle the road ahead with courage and imagination.


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"It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most radical and important books on raising healthy, resilient, purpose-driven kids." - Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege "An invaluable resource for the thinking parent." - Lisa Damour, author of Untangled "Compelling, revolutionary, and wise, The Self-Driven Child empowers parents with the "It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most radical and important books on raising healthy, resilient, purpose-driven kids." - Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege "An invaluable resource for the thinking parent." - Lisa Damour, author of Untangled "Compelling, revolutionary, and wise, The Self-Driven Child empowers parents with the courage, the tools, and the mindset to reduce toxic stress, and to foster our child's capacity for resilience. Its message is one every parent needs to hear." --Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of The Whole Brain Child "Read it. Your children will thank you." - Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking any real motivation. Many complained that they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school or hit college and unraveled. Bill is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps kids gripped by anxiety or struggling to learn. Ned is a motivational coach who runs an elite tutoring service. Together they discovered that the best antidote to stress is to give kids more of a sense of control over their lives. But this doesn't mean giving up your authority as a parent. In this groundbreaking book they reveal how you can actively help your child to sculpt a brain that is resilient, stress-proof and ready to take on new challenges. The Self-Driven Child offers a combination of cutting-edge brain science, the latest discoveries in behavioral therapy, and case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens Bill and Ned have helped over the years to teach you how to set your child on the real road to success. As parents, we can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they will have to take the wheel and map out their own path. But there is a lot you can do before then to help them find their passion and tackle the road ahead with courage and imagination.

30 review for The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    My reining theory on parenting is that you start out the perfect parent, every choice is correct. Then your kid gets to elementary and you find that your brilliant child is basically slightly above average. Junior high, hormones, and by the time high school hits, parents are just clinging to life hoping something pans out with their child. Something other than an addiction or unintended offspring. My goal is for my kids to (1) get a college degree; (2) somehow find a job they like. However, this My reining theory on parenting is that you start out the perfect parent, every choice is correct. Then your kid gets to elementary and you find that your brilliant child is basically slightly above average. Junior high, hormones, and by the time high school hits, parents are just clinging to life hoping something pans out with their child. Something other than an addiction or unintended offspring. My goal is for my kids to (1) get a college degree; (2) somehow find a job they like. However, this book points out that kids will get where they need to be and it usually isn't on the traditional path. The authors point out, how about you as an adult? How's your job going? Your relationships? Investments? Are you making all the right choices? Ouch. After reading this book, I have started paying more attention to the parents around me. One father was adamant that his 15 year old son needed to hurry up and decide what he wanted to do for his career, which also included college and any possible sports scholarship. Another mother was thrilled that she had met a school counselor that would be evaluating her incoming kindergartener for the talented and gifted program. I know more toddlers that not who spend 9 - 12 hours per day in daycare. The parents call it "school", which seems to be a way to tame the horror of it. When I said that I didn't like working 10 - 12 hours days as an adult, they cringe. When I was worrying about my son drifting through his 9th grade year in a catatonic state, my father looked at me, "he's not flunking his classes, he's interested in cars, and he has a girlfriend? Seems pretty normal to me". Fine, when you put it that way. But still, that was his 1950's perspective when college didn't matter for a good stable career (and affordable housing). Today, 90% of new jobs go to college graduates, and only 3 out of 10 Americans have degrees. Hello, huge income gap and growing class warfare? I liked one of the parent comments in the book, "If you see a spark in your kids, pour gasoline on it."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    What a great book! The Self-Driven Child is a thought -provoking, informative and grounded in sound research. The book includes practical and easy to understand depictions to explain what is happening to children when they are put under chronic toxic stress created by the pressures of social media management, increasingly pervading competitiveness and unreasonable academic expectations being placed upon them. Are parents focusing on achievement rather than agency? Is this focus on What a great book! The Self-Driven Child is a thought -provoking, informative and grounded in sound research. The book includes practical and easy to understand depictions to explain what is happening to children when they are put under chronic toxic stress created by the pressures of social media management, increasingly pervading competitiveness and unreasonable academic expectations being placed upon them. Are parents focusing on achievement rather than agency? Is this focus on over-achievement ultimately harmful? The authors think so, and they should know. One author is a clinical neuropsychologist and a faculty member at Children's National Medical Center and George Washington University Medical School. The other author is a motivational coach and expert in teen anxiety management. Agency, as the authors point out, is THE primary factor in happiness and well-being. The book argues for more authoritative parenting, being supportive, but not controlling, acting as a consultant to help their children understand the benefits of positive and neutral stress and providing the tools to learn resilience, self-control and personal motivation in the face of toxic stress. The Self-Driven Child is a must-read for every parent. Although I received a copy of this book from Net Galley, this did not affect my rating. I have provided an unbiased and honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anna Mussmann

    The authors of this book aren’t all wrong. They’ve noticed a genuine problem and have offered a solution. Unfortunately, their own bias seems to have gotten in the way of providing parents with more than a few nuggets of truly helpful advice. They begin their argument by pointing out the similarity between teens trapped in poverty and teens who feel trapped by upper-middle class helicopter parenting: both groups lack a sense of control over their own lives. Both groups struggle with anxiety, The authors of this book aren’t all wrong. They’ve noticed a genuine problem and have offered a solution. Unfortunately, their own bias seems to have gotten in the way of providing parents with more than a few nuggets of truly helpful advice. They begin their argument by pointing out the similarity between teens trapped in poverty and teens who feel trapped by upper-middle class helicopter parenting: both groups lack a sense of control over their own lives. Both groups struggle with anxiety, depression, and sometimes dysfunctional or self-destructive behaviors. They report that “from 1960 until 2002, high school and college students have steadily reported lower and lower levels of internal locus of control (the belief that they can control their own destiny). . . . This change has been associated with an increased vulnerability to anxiety and depression.” The rest of the book discusses how to stop trying to control our children and instead raise them to have a sense of control over their own lives so that they can be healthy, confident, and happy. “Our role is to teach [kids] to think and act independently, so that they will have the judgment to succeed in school and, most importantly, in life.” There is a significant amount of truth to this. Of course our kids need room to grow up. As the authors say, “when parents work harder than their kids to solve their problems, their kids get weaker, not stronger.” Furthermore, the authors' point that the development of the human brain is use-driven--that brains become good at considering the evidence and making rational decisions by considering the evidence and making rational decisions--makes sense. Yet the big weakness of this book is the moral vacuum in which the authors operate. Because they seem to believe that each person must decide what is right for him or herself (they suggest telling kids, “You’re the expert on you” as an explanation for why kids have the authority to make their own decisions), they miss something big. Our purpose in life is not to figure out what decisions will make us happiest. Instead, it is more important to develop the self-control to do what is right whether or not we feel like it, whether or not we think it will make us happy. In part, this is because, rather than thinking we must control our own destiny, we rejoice in the care of a good and holy God. It is less important that toddlers get to choose their own outfits than it is that they are taught to exercise self-control by refraining from, say, hitting their mothers or their playmates. It is less important that middle school kids choose their own school than that they learn responsibility by joining their parents in meaningful work around the house. Yes, kids need room to grow up. (And it’s good to give them a healthy amount of freedom in the home as well as to give them practice making decisions). But the maturity that the authors seek is more likely to grow when children are encouraged to direct their attention away from a focus on their own desires and preferences. Parents are tasked with the job of teaching right from wrong and modeling self-sacrificial service to others. That is a big part of why they are in charge.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liza Fireman

    I liked this book. I think that the main message is the following: Our role as adults is not to force them to follow the track we’ve laid out for them; it’s to help them develop the skills to figure out the track that’s right for them. They will need to find their own way—and to make independent course corrections—for the rest of their lives. You can't really force a kid to do anything, and especially not for the long term. “Of course you can. I make my kids do things all the time.” But this isn’ I liked this book. I think that the main message is the following: Our role as adults is not to force them to follow the track we’ve laid out for them; it’s to help them develop the skills to figure out the track that’s right for them. They will need to find their own way—and to make independent course corrections—for the rest of their lives. You can't really force a kid to do anything, and especially not for the long term. “Of course you can. I make my kids do things all the time.” But this isn’t really true. Suppose your child doesn’t want to eat what he is served and you set about to “make him.” What do you do? Do you force the child’s mouth open, put food in it, and move his jaws up and down? If you do, who’s really eating? The child isn’t eating—he’s being force-fed. With homework, if a child truly resists your attempts to get him to work, what are you going to do? Prop his eyes open, move the book in front of his face? Even if this were possible and actually worked, would it be good for him? Would he actually learn? The adult's job is to offer help, guide and support. After all it is their life. Reading right now Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff you feel how frustrating it can be to be a parent. Wanting the best for your kid is amazing, but living instead of them is impossible, and their choices (guided by our education and support) will be the path of their life. The book talks quite a lot about homework, and our responsibility as parent to remind if needed, but suggests that a parent does not need to help unless the kid asked. Pressing too much can actually have the opposite affect. As a parent I know sometimes how hard it is, and that we can't always succeed, especially because we care so much. But the best that we can do is teach them how to act and interact, to treat them with honesty and build trust. And to make sure to use collaboration and not manipulation. Allowing the children make their own decision make them feel in charge (and the book stresses that there is science behind it as well). Kids shouldn’t feel like an empty extension of their parents. The recommended message is " I have confidence in your ability to ...". It gives them sense of control, and allow them to get experience that comes only from making their own decisions, including bad decisions. Actually, we as parents don't even always know what's best decision. And that's a hard one to acknowledge. We can help them with building Informed decision making. And more than anything we need to help them access to feeling and processing of feelings. Much of the book stresses the importance of sleep. Children and young adults need a lot of sleep. It clicked to me immediately with Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. I read this book lately, and the two books have a lot in common mentioning how critical sleep is, and how critical it is to the forming brain of a teenager. Very important read, even as a reminder. Almost 4 stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I enjoyed this important resource. Stopped in chapter 8. Will pick up again another time. Would like to listen to this again when my kids are in elementary school through high school. Here are the notes I took while listening to this: Sense of control= less anxiety and stress Lack of self control is frustrating and stressful. Let your child work things out herself, instead of swooping in, giving her the message that she can't do it. The kid might be nervous beforehand but will be filled with a sense I enjoyed this important resource. Stopped in chapter 8. Will pick up again another time. Would like to listen to this again when my kids are in elementary school through high school. Here are the notes I took while listening to this: Sense of control= less anxiety and stress Lack of self control is frustrating and stressful. Let your child work things out herself, instead of swooping in, giving her the message that she can't do it. The kid might be nervous beforehand but will be filled with a sense of pride afterwards. Kids are more likely to perform well with "the jitters" as long as not excessive. Tolerable stress builds resiliency. In a study with rats, baby rats taken from their mother and handled for 15 minutes, then returned to their mother, were resilient against stress as adults. Baby rats handled for 3 hours with no breaks were over stressed and it affected their ability to deal with stress. They were easily stressed as adults and didn't handle stress well. Tolerable stress is where there are breaks to the stress and the kid is supported by a loving adult. Toxic stress is where the stress doesn't end, kids feel out of control and they are not supported by an adult. Model stress awareness by pointing out what stresses you out at work. Don't shield your kids from mild stress. Let them learn from it. Reframe the problem. Whose problem is it? Your child's. If you take over, your child will try less. If you try 95 units, your child will try 5. We want to raise curious, self motivated learners. Kids need home to be a safe space away from the stress of school. They need to be loved unconditionally even when they screw up. Try using the mantra I love you too much to fight with you about your homework. When you fight with your kid about her homework she isn't being intrinsically motivated and she won't take it on herself also it brings school stress into the house . Goal: raise a child capable of acting in her best self interest. She learns by being responsible for herself and her own homework. You can't manage her homework and then assume she'll just take it over when you stop. She has to learn to do it herself. For a second grader, you can say "oh, I see you have a math sheet" and ask if she wants help, but don't monitor her to make sure she completes it. She needs to have this self control and develop self motivation. Your child is more likely to feel depressed from having a low sense of control self control than from getting a bad grade because she didn't study for a test/do her homework. This is true especially if you support your child through failure and teach her not to think of it as the end but rather a learning opportunity Look from your child's point of view. Start with three precepts about your child: 1. You are the expert on you. 2. You have a brain in your head. 3. You want your life to work. The brain matures according to how it's used. So give your kids opportunities to grow in the areas they have self control over. They will become used to making hard choices and owning them. Kids shouldn't be an empty extension of their parents. They should direct their lives. Giving kids a sense of control is the only way to teach them competency and decision-making and in whatever skill they're learning as the adage goes wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from bad decisions . Kids need to know you trust them to make their own decisions.Example of the mother who swoops in to stop her toddler from falling before the toddler even knows what is happening.The toddler doesn't suffer that way but the only way to build resiliency is through suffering. Telling our children how to make good decisions isn't the same as them doing it themselves and experiencing the consequences. You don't always know what's best. You don't know who your child wants to be. That's for her to figure out. Kids are capable. A landmark study showed kids ages 9- 21 made very similar decisions. "I have confidence in your ability to make informed decisions about your own life and to make mistakes." "It's your call." For judgment lapses ask "how'd that works for you?" and make some suggestions for next time. Some parents try to prune their children like Edward Scissorhands does to shrubs. Remember, that your child is still growing and you don't know what he/she will be. It's important to be a non anxious parent to your child. After loving your child, the second most affective thing you can do is manage your own stress. Second hand stress affects people. Stress is contagious/spreads. Kids are especially vulnerable in utero and their first year. When you worry about your kid, you undermine your kids confidence. Calm is contagious . Strive to be a nonanxious presence in your child's life. Safe home base. Place to destress. Your kid's problems are her own. They are not your problems. It's okay to be happy when she is not. How to be a less anxious parent. One. Enjoy your kids. Two. Don't fear the future. Many parents fear their kid getting stuck. Whatever your kid is going through now she will more than likely be fine in the future. Self motivation: Foster a growth mindset. The most important factor for said motivating is a sense of self control. Giver her choices and control in her life. Competency is important too. Your child doesn't have to know everything about a subject, but she needs to feel like she can learn it. Your child needs to learn for herself. When you try to take over learning for her or pushing what you think she should learn, she'll push back and not be invested to learn. She needs to be self motivated. Dopamine in the brain helps kids be motivated for tasks. To encourage dopamine development encourage kids to work hard at things they love. This will help develop the dopamine and make it routine so that they enjoy activities that get them into flow activities that are neither too easy nor too hard. Help your kids ask themselves "what do I want?" and "what do I love to do?" It's your child's responsibility to find interests and motivation in life. Good grades don't equal success in life. More important than getting good grades is that your child develops her brain. Encourage autonomy and activities where she experiences flow. Teach your kids not to be overly preoccupied with pleasing others. Default mode network. Being in the DM and can help you solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable. When you're in the default network you work through problems. You can't be doing a task to have DMn and activated. Let your kids do nothing. Teach them meditation and mindfulness practices. Being well rested makes everything better. You are more stressed, less flexible and more likely to see things negatively if you haven't gotten enough sleep. Each hour of sleep makes a difference. It's much easier to learn when you are well rested. Best learning environment: challenging content, environment that gives them room to fail.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim Gavlick hewlett

    The best parenting book I've read in a very long time. The best parenting book I've read in a very long time. 👏

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shevon Quijano

    The Self-Driven Child made me feel really good about our trajectory as parents, lol. Stixrud and Johnson advocate empowering your children at every stage of life to exercise their decision making skills, own those choices, and allowing them to make mistakes and experience difficulties. When kids encounter normal levels of stress they are more resilient in adulthood than children who were helicoptered, on one side of the spectrum, or left with too much freedom, laissez faire parenting. “We help The Self-Driven Child made me feel really good about our trajectory as parents, lol. Stixrud and Johnson advocate empowering your children at every stage of life to exercise their decision making skills, own those choices, and allowing them to make mistakes and experience difficulties. When kids encounter normal levels of stress they are more resilient in adulthood than children who were helicoptered, on one side of the spectrum, or left with too much freedom, laissez faire parenting. “We help them develop a brain that’s used to making hard choices and owning them.” Each chapter ends with concrete steps you and your family can take to address various challenges (homework, hobbies, college, etc). One of my favorite quotes was when one of the authors, who is a tutor, explained to his charge that, “...part of his work as an adolescent was to explore not only what he liked but what he was better at than most people and to work hard at that.” It is a call to action to encourage kids to be self aware. They need to be able to identify their strengths, know their weaknesses, all while rejecting comparison with others around them. This is how they will find success and fulfillment in life. Great book!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey

    I got this to learn more about motivating kids to read and learn - but I actually learned more about my own anxiety from it! It's even convinced me to meditate.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Sheppard

    Very much in the same tone and wisdom of Foster Cline and Jim Fay: let learning come through the exercising of free agency, choice and the resulting consequences. Eventually kids will learn through experience, although sometimes sad and hard, to get control of their lives and gain a sense of initiative and direction. Excellent bench mark questions to ask as public education comes to an end and the decision with what to do after high school occurs: where to get extended education, college or not? - Very much in the same tone and wisdom of Foster Cline and Jim Fay: let learning come through the exercising of free agency, choice and the resulting consequences. Eventually kids will learn through experience, although sometimes sad and hard, to get control of their lives and gain a sense of initiative and direction. Excellent bench mark questions to ask as public education comes to an end and the decision with what to do after high school occurs: where to get extended education, college or not? - Is your child accepting responsibility for his own life? Who initiated the college search? - Does your child have an adequate self understanding and what he wants? - Does your child have adequate self regulation to run his own life? - Does your child have adequate self motivation for school? - Can your child manage day to day living independently? - Does your child have healthy ways to manage stress? - Does your child have burn out? - Does your child have academic skills to do college work? - If he needs academic support, will he ask for it and accept it? - Does your child have social competence to manage the complex social environment? If these questions can not be answered affirmatively, then some "gap" time between high school and college is necessary to learn skills and find direction for extended study. College is an investment: calculate the Return on Investment like any other enterprise before releasing the money.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zach Albanese

    There was much I disagreed with in this book, but once I read it through the lens of my own beliefs and values I was able to apply it more appropriately and read it with much more charity. I think a lot of what they say is really good. I think their emphasis on "a child knows best" is just wrong but their findings on giving a kid control and autonomy in a way that fits within your value structure makes sense. How can we lower the amount of stress our kids feel? What is good stress and bad There was much I disagreed with in this book, but once I read it through the lens of my own beliefs and values I was able to apply it more appropriately and read it with much more charity. I think a lot of what they say is really good. I think their emphasis on "a child knows best" is just wrong but their findings on giving a kid control and autonomy in a way that fits within your value structure makes sense. How can we lower the amount of stress our kids feel? What is good stress and bad stress? These were the highlights of the book. Some of their own suggestions were a bit extreme, but I think any parent who is serious about their parenting can take the principles in this book and use them within their system. They were a bit extreme on their own position and often times contradicted it throughout the book. It's easy to be extreme and then say things like 'but sometimes you need to do what you think is best as a parent' or 'don't let a situation go so far that it becomes insane.' What is insane? What is too far? You can't prescribe a way of working and then have all these caveats for when that way of working is defunct. I think a better call to parents would be the call to just be reasonable: to not have a predetermined path for you child and to watch and engage with your child anew each day and trust that they are going to change and that they are going to be different than you. I am a firm believer in parents being the ones responsible for shaping their children. If you are a family that has certain practices, it is good to instill those into your kids at an early age. So, I'd recommend this book to someone who is confident in their parenting style but wants to stretch their thinking a bit. There is good data in this book, some 'meh' advice, but overall I thought it was a good read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    José Antonio Lopez

    The Self-Driven Child is an excellent book for parents worried about their children's future. "Parental anxiety isn't new. Parents have worried about their kids ever since having kids was a thing, but we believe it's worse now than before. Why? For one, we have a lot more information than we've ever had before." I recommend "The Self-Driven Child" next to Madeline Levine "Teach your Children Well", and Alison Gopnik "The Gardener and the Carpenter". Books with supported research that help The Self-Driven Child is an excellent book for parents worried about their children's future. "Parental anxiety isn't new. Parents have worried about their kids ever since having kids was a thing, but we believe it's worse now than before. Why? For one, we have a lot more information than we've ever had before." I recommend "The Self-Driven Child" next to Madeline Levine "Teach your Children Well", and Alison Gopnik "The Gardener and the Carpenter". Books with supported research that help parents, and kids, enjoy themselves lowering anxiety and stress. "Remember that your job is not to solve your children's problems but to help them learn to run their own lives" "Your responsibility is to love and support your child. It isn't your responsibility to protect him from pain. You can't." Stixrud and Johnson combine modern theory of neuroscience, positive psychology, and education, research references plus their own clinical practice experience along cases and practical advice. The first part of the book covers the theoretical foundation before getting into more actual problems like sleep, electronics and college. In the end the our goal as parents should be to love and enjoy our kids, to trust they will know how to get up on their feet and move along. And in the end, they will always come back when they need us. "In a competitive, overly busy world, it's so easy to forget the basics: that enjoying your kids is one of the best things you can do for them, and for yourself." "Teachers can teach, coaches can coach, guidance counselors can outline graduation requirements, but there's one thing only parents can do: love their kids unconditionally and provide them with a safe base at home." The last section about college needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. If we assume p is the probability of succeeding after college and (1-p) the probability of not succeeding, and q the probability of succeeding without college and (1-q) the opposite. Stixrud and Johnson don't account if p>(1-p) and q<(1-q). Even the cases they develop show that succeeding without college is hard, maybe harder than succeeding in college. Yet succeeding in college by no means equals a happy life. If parents lower their expectations about their kids going to college they should acknowledge that a support system for their kids increases their chances. Considering that some college is the same as no college, the book check-list to evaluate if kids are ready for college is quite valuable. I recommend also reading Bryan Caplan "The Case Against Education", it complements what Stixrud and Johnson say.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ben Iverson

    As a rule, I hate parenting books. I actually found this one very insightful and it has actually changed the way that I parent. I find myself saying, "it's up to you" or "it's your call" SO much more often than I used to, and it's been very good for me and my kids. The writing in the book is still pretty cheesy, but if I were to recommend just one parenting book, this is it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    Possibly the best parenting book I’ve ever read. I love that it is based on sound, scientific research. So much of the societal pressures we face as parents are the very things that are keeping our kids from developing into the capable people we want them to become. “Think of how you want to make your child feel. Loved. Trusted. Supported. Capable. And above all else, let that be your guide.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Norrisjackie

    Like almost all parenting books I've read, they run long. BUT, I feel like this was one of the better ones out there. The basic premise is that the rise in anxiety, depression, self-destructive behavior can be linked to the lack of autonomy and control kids have over their lives. So many things are managed for them from the classes they take, to what college they go to, to what they wear, etc. The authors say that parents should seek to be consultants rather than managers and bosses. Give kids Like almost all parenting books I've read, they run long. BUT, I feel like this was one of the better ones out there. The basic premise is that the rise in anxiety, depression, self-destructive behavior can be linked to the lack of autonomy and control kids have over their lives. So many things are managed for them from the classes they take, to what college they go to, to what they wear, etc. The authors say that parents should seek to be consultants rather than managers and bosses. Give kids knowledge and experience and then let them choose for themselves. Here are some takeaways I want to remember: - Self-control is the antidote to stress -Agency is the most important factor in human happiness and well-being - Parents should encourage and support situations with tolerable stress while protecting kids from toxic stress - Kids need responsibility more than they deserve it. Yes, their brains aren't completely developed but this is how they'll grow - 9yo's are capable decision makers. One study found that any issues in their decision making comes from lack of knowledge, not lack in judgment. - Be a non-anxious presence for your kids. Enjoy them, don't fear the future, make peace with your own fears - Encourage "radical downtime" - meditation, daydreaming, boredom - Plan-B thinking allows you to feel in control ("Great plans. If that doesn't work, what else could we try?") - If you see a spark in your child, pour gasoline on it. Alternate routes (no college, etc.) can be great for some kids. And if what they choose doesn't work you can always course correct.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    As my daughter isn't even three yet, there wasn't much practical advice for me in this book, but it has opened my mind to the importance of fostering the control my daughter has in her life as she gets older. I really liked the collaborative problem solving approach discussed in this book and appreciated the practical tips on learning how to cede control to your child while maintaining firm boundaries and limits with them. The end of each chapter included a list of actions you can start As my daughter isn't even three yet, there wasn't much practical advice for me in this book, but it has opened my mind to the importance of fostering the control my daughter has in her life as she gets older. I really liked the collaborative problem solving approach discussed in this book and appreciated the practical tips on learning how to cede control to your child while maintaining firm boundaries and limits with them. The end of each chapter included a list of actions you can start immediately implementing with your children that will open lines of communication and your children assume control and responsibility in their lives. I plan on re-reading this book again in another 5 years so I can implement some of these strategies with my daughter when she's old enough to respond to them and I'm going to recommend this to all my friends who have children older than mine!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    Excellent book. It could have been a 5 star one but for one thing: the authors seem to have a thing against homeschooling. They never EVER mentioned it as an alternative to the craziness of the school system and when they did mentioned (one time in the last chapter) it was in the context of a testimony of a child using an alternative way to success. So far so good you say. Then they said the child decided to go to college which made her go back to public school...implying that in order to go to Excellent book. It could have been a 5 star one but for one thing: the authors seem to have a thing against homeschooling. They never EVER mentioned it as an alternative to the craziness of the school system and when they did mentioned (one time in the last chapter) it was in the context of a testimony of a child using an alternative way to success. So far so good you say. Then they said the child decided to go to college which made her go back to public school...implying that in order to go to college you have to graduate from a public or private school. This is non sense. I invite both authors to do a little more research on that topic and they will see that homeschool graduates are attending top colleges AND discovering alternative ways to success. Other than that it was a great book and I'm already recommending it to others.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A quote on the book jacket reads: “This humane, thoughtful book turns the latest brain science into valuable practical advice for parents... read it. Your children will thank you.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. This is by far one of the best parenting/education books I’ve ever read. Many of the topics are geared to parents of older elementary/middle school to college ready age. The tone overall throughout this book is one of we’re here to educate & provide a perspective based A quote on the book jacket reads: “This humane, thoughtful book turns the latest brain science into valuable practical advice for parents... read it. Your children will thank you.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. This is by far one of the best parenting/education books I’ve ever read. Many of the topics are geared to parents of older elementary/middle school to college ready age. The tone overall throughout this book is one of we’re here to educate & provide a perspective based on our research & direct observation of students. No lecture, but rather inform & guide much like they are inspiring parents & educators in their interactions with students. More underlines & dog ears than I could quote here, this is truly a best seller worth your time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I keep talking about this book because it is such a great, all-around parenting book. Explores a variety of topics, but specifically how to help kids be independent, make their own choices and accept the consequences, and how parents can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression in kids. I found it very helpful, interesting, and easy to read. Best thing I got out of the book? A reminder that my job as a parent is to be a CONSULTANT not a boss. In the end, it's their life and their choices and I keep talking about this book because it is such a great, all-around parenting book. Explores a variety of topics, but specifically how to help kids be independent, make their own choices and accept the consequences, and how parents can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression in kids. I found it very helpful, interesting, and easy to read. Best thing I got out of the book? A reminder that my job as a parent is to be a CONSULTANT not a boss. In the end, it's their life and their choices and they need space to explore their interests, talents, and to learn to fail as part of growing up. Highly recommend to all parents!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Loved this! I'd say this book is somewhat targeted to older kids--between upper elementary, middle and even high school, but I think there are gems for any age. My biggest take away from the book was relearning to just trust your kiddo. If we want them to succeed in this thing called life we have to stop "helping" so much and let them navigate the waters. So when our kids are going through stressful, difficult times our job is to support and let them figure out how to get through. Instead of Loved this! I'd say this book is somewhat targeted to older kids--between upper elementary, middle and even high school, but I think there are gems for any age. My biggest take away from the book was relearning to just trust your kiddo. If we want them to succeed in this thing called life we have to stop "helping" so much and let them navigate the waters. So when our kids are going through stressful, difficult times our job is to support and let them figure out how to get through. Instead of being reactive, we should be reassuring--reminding them that they can make decisions and we will be here for support. While I didn't agree 100% with all they said, I appreciated his frank talk about keeping it real. Does your kid need to go to an ivy league school if they're not prepared to be a good student? Nope. Not worth it. Do they sometimes need to take advantage of a gap year and build up personal skills? Sure! Throw your comparison glasses to the wind, parents. This book is so you see your kiddo for the capable, growing person that they are!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan-o

    While I can't say this book was a compelling page turner, I did learn quite a bit from listening to it. I was surprised that as much of the suggestions and research were applicable to me as they seemed to be to my kids. The book is written in a way that covers motivating kids in general, and then breaks it down somewhat into age groups, so not all of it is applicable to my current child situation right now. I suppose that much of the book could have been boiled down into about 10 key points of While I can't say this book was a compelling page turner, I did learn quite a bit from listening to it. I was surprised that as much of the suggestions and research were applicable to me as they seemed to be to my kids. The book is written in a way that covers motivating kids in general, and then breaks it down somewhat into age groups, so not all of it is applicable to my current child situation right now. I suppose that much of the book could have been boiled down into about 10 key points of things to do to give your kids more control. That would be a handy quick reference guide, if such a thing exists. Now to put this into practice...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    This was a useful resource for thinking about how to approach conversations with your children, and how to help them build a sense of mastery and control over their own lives. A lot of the content and examples skewed towards teenagers; the title would be a little more accurate if it clarified that it's talking about young/near adults, rather than "kids" (which makes me think of the under 10 crowd).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristin O'Keefe

    A MUST READ guide to parenting tweens/teens in the era of 24-hour tech and increased anxiety. I was reminded of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears -- if helicopter parenting is too much, and hands-off parenting is too little, then this book is exactly right. Using several of the recommended techniques and it's already brought the stress-level down. One key: an open mind is so essential. Understand what you want for your child may differ from what they want -- and they know themselves better than A MUST READ guide to parenting tweens/teens in the era of 24-hour tech and increased anxiety. I was reminded of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears -- if helicopter parenting is too much, and hands-off parenting is too little, then this book is exactly right. Using several of the recommended techniques and it's already brought the stress-level down. One key: an open mind is so essential. Understand what you want for your child may differ from what they want -- and they know themselves better than you do. (Ok, sometimes.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Currie

    Of all the books on child development that I've read, this is the one that will stick with me the most. Delivered in an amiable tone with lots of references to research and studies and many anecdotes that illustrate how the studies are playing out in real life, Stixrud and Johnson provide practical advice and clear steps to follow in helping children develop their own drive and sense of responsibility for themselves. The book covers parenting of young children and where parents should start with Of all the books on child development that I've read, this is the one that will stick with me the most. Delivered in an amiable tone with lots of references to research and studies and many anecdotes that illustrate how the studies are playing out in real life, Stixrud and Johnson provide practical advice and clear steps to follow in helping children develop their own drive and sense of responsibility for themselves. The book covers parenting of young children and where parents should start with guiding their child(ren) in developing autonomy and carries right through the college/university years and what parents can do to guide their adolescents and young adults into fruitful, autonomous lives. A must-read for all parents and anyone who interacts with children in the regular course of their lives.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Megan Dax

    My children are two and three, and our home is often chaotic. The kids are very active, independent and determined. We struggle maintaining order without resistance, and are always open to advice. This book provides great advice for parents and children. I appreciate that the author gave examples with proven solutions to try. Much of the authors advice will go a long way in our home.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I could not put this book down! It was so interesting to learn about child and adolescent brain development. A must read for parents and teachers who want to understand how they can help kids grow into independent thoughtful adults.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Siliski

    Meh. Fine thesis, which I buy: happy healthy people feel in control of their lives, so find age-appropriate ways of putting your child in control of theirs. But now you basically know everything worth knowing in the book. Would've been better as a chapter of a more wide ranging book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Preston

    Who's in control here? This book is a plea to let your kids be in control of their own lives, as much as realistic (with plenty of guidance for ages, stages, and kids who just make crazy choices). Finishing homework? Help, but it's their responsibility. Going to college? Consult, but it's their choice. The big idea is that a sense of control helps children flourish and be less stressed and therefore more successful overall. I came away with many good ideas and challenges to implement in our own Who's in control here? This book is a plea to let your kids be in control of their own lives, as much as realistic (with plenty of guidance for ages, stages, and kids who just make crazy choices). Finishing homework? Help, but it's their responsibility. Going to college? Consult, but it's their choice. The big idea is that a sense of control helps children flourish and be less stressed and therefore more successful overall. I came away with many good ideas and challenges to implement in our own home. Two things bothered me though - there is a large push to teach meditation to kids, especially Transcendental Meditation. The second was that nearly every anecdote, every stressor they discussed resolving, had to do with conventional schooling and standardized test taking. While I grasp that these are the biggest stressors for kids today, they are far from the only. As homeschoolers, I look forward to pursuing the "parent as consultant" mindset in our education, but it would have been nice to see some educational diversity reflected in the book. Especially as homeschool done well is a great place to allow kids increasing levels of control over their education and freedom to pursue their passions.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erin Livs Livingston

    This was so helpful for me especially with regards to my three teenagers! While I didn't agree with everything, I appreciate their thoughts and gained some ideas for helpful dialogue with various "challenges." Highly recommend. From library

  29. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Fascinating and applicable ideas to both parenting and navigating one’s own life. Certainly the individual parent is apt to draw the line of the child’s choices in a different place than the authors suggest, but the book offers ideas and a place for the thoughtful parent to start in cultivating “children who understand how to act and interact in the world successfully.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I 100% agree with this parenting philosophy, which is basically that you can lead the horse to water but not force it to drink. This book is a lot like Love and Logic and Conscious Parenting the Power of Positive Parenting--kids need control over their decisions and you should not force your will on them. It seems obvious, but parents (myself included) are constantly forcing kids into molds. Let your kid make mistakes and pay for them. Be a consultant rather than a coach.

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