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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

    Ell

    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-achieveme 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, dep 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. 4 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

    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 t 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!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kim Gavlick hewlett

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

  8. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    This guide on helping your child become more independent, self-confident, and driven spoke to the way I want to parent my kid, but I like most other parenting books I read, I was annoyed half of the time. I finished most of the book but skimmed the later chapters about college entrance exams and college in general. I did like that the authors emphasized that college was a privilege to be earned and not a given. I found enough tips and information in this book that not only applied to my kid, but This guide on helping your child become more independent, self-confident, and driven spoke to the way I want to parent my kid, but I like most other parenting books I read, I was annoyed half of the time. I finished most of the book but skimmed the later chapters about college entrance exams and college in general. I did like that the authors emphasized that college was a privilege to be earned and not a given. I found enough tips and information in this book that not only applied to my kid, but also applied to myself, so it's definitely worth reading. First, the good parts: * lots of conclusions from studies about how the brain actually works * offers a variety of paths for different types of brains * nice summary at the end of chapters for those of us who like to skim The not so good parts: * definitely comes from a privileged point of view. For example, finding a school that works for your child is great if you have the money for options, but not great if the only thing you can do is send your kid to the closest public school. * The different voices or points of view of "Bill says blah blah" and "When Ned had a client..." was confusing without much context.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shawna

    I really enjoyed "The Self Driven Child." It reminded me of things I know as a parent but sometimes forget. I didn't necessarily learn anything new but I enjoyed every chapter. It's important to me that my children are self motivated. I want THEM to make informed choices and decisions. I enjoy the role of consultant instead of manager. Sometimes I just need a book like this to remind me how to do it. Great book for parents of tweens and teens!

  10. 5 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 k 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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 4 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 stress 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.

  13. 4 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 parents 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.

  14. 5 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.

  15. 4 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.”

  16. 4 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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alice-Anne

    Lots of aha moments in this important parenting book about giving our kids more autonomy over their lives. I found the beginning and end a little slow but really ate up the middle.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Candace Adlard

    Quotes/Notes: "We hope to convince you that you should think of yourself as a consultant to your kids rather than their boss or manager. We will try to persuade you fo the wisdom of saying 'It's your call' as often as possible" (pg.5) "1. You can't make your kids do something against their will. 2. You can't make your kids want something they don't want. 3. You can't make your kids NOT want what they want. 4. It's okay, at least for now, for them to want what they want and not want what they do Quotes/Notes: "We hope to convince you that you should think of yourself as a consultant to your kids rather than their boss or manager. We will try to persuade you fo the wisdom of saying 'It's your call' as often as possible" (pg.5) "1. You can't make your kids do something against their will. 2. You can't make your kids want something they don't want. 3. You can't make your kids NOT want what they want. 4. It's okay, at least for now, for them to want what they want and not want what they don't want" (pg 33) "Doing well in school is the most important thing for a successful future'. We disagree. We think that developing a clear sense of who's responsible for what is more important than always doing well. That is the key to raising a self-driven child" (pg. 49) Practical To-Dos: -Make a list of the things your child has control over. Is there anything you can add to that list? -Ask your child if there are things he feels he'd like to be in charge of that he currently isn't. -Consider your language around making plans. Do you say, "Today we're going to do this and then this," or do you offer choices? -Think about ways in which you may, intentionally or inadvertently, be trying to protect your kids from experiencing mildly stressful situations that they could grow from? Are you too focused on safety? Are there situations in which you could give your child more independence or more choices? -Have your kids take a test by Steven Nowicki and Bonnie Stickland that measures a person's sense of control. (pg 26-27) Parenting as a Consultant: Advice on Self-managing homework, practicing a musical instrument, consulting hours, (pg. 41-50) "...we want our kids to be thoughtful learners, and want them to be self-disciplined, not well disciplined. Assuming authority over your kids' responsibilities robs you of quality time and takes away home as a safe base" (pg. 51) Practical To-Dos - Practice asking, "who is responsible for this?" "Whose problem is it?" -Determine if your home is a safe base. Do you fight frequently about food or screen time? If you are feeling frustrated with your kid, chances are he is with you as well. Ask him. -Express confidence in your child's ability to figure things out. "IT'S YOUR CALL. I have confidence in your ability to make informed decisions about your own life and to learn from your mistakes." The trick is, you can't just tell them this - you have to follow through. Sometimes you won't like their decisions, but unless they're outrageous, we suggest that you let them go with them anyway...But when we say we want children and teens to make their own decisions as much as possible, what we really want is for them to make informed decisions. It's our responsibility as parents to give the information and the perspective that we have - and that they lack - in order to enable them to make the best possible choices. Once properly informed, kids usually do make good decisions for themselves - and their decisions are almost always as good as or better than our own" (pg 55). "I have confidence in your ability to make informed decisions about your own life and to learn from your mistakes" (pg 61) "Kids need to practice making their own decisions before they can do so legally. It's not enough to show them, either. They need to actually do it. They need practice. They need to experience the natural consequences of their choices, ranging from being uncomfortably cold when they decided not to wear a coat, to getting a bad grade on a test because they decided not to study" (pg. 61) A Sense of Control in Action Toddlers- choose between outfits, dress themselves without interfering when they get frustrated, choose what they want to play, etc. Preschoolers- Unstructured play, give a calendar and let them write down all the important things they have (helps them feel in control of their day). Elementary School- what activities to participate in, what foods to eat to stay healthy, let them help make decisions by going over pros and cons, come up with Plan B in case their Plan A doesn't work out. Never resort to, "I know better than you do. Your opinion doesn't matter". (pg 66-68) "We don't need you to make us feel safe...you made us feel brave and that's even better" (pg 101) Practical To-Dos -Spend private time with your child, one-on-one -Avoid making decisions for your child based on fear. If you find yourself thing, "I'm afraid if I don't do this now then..." stop. Do what you feel is right NOW, not what you feel you have to because of what you're afraid will happen if you don't (pg. 103-104) "...he made a point of telling them that there was a low correlation between grades in school and success in life. He said that while he would look at their report cards if they wanted him to, he was much more concerned about their development as students and as people...the most important thing she can do is develop the brain she wants for the rest of her life. Does she want a brain that's so stressed and tired that she is easily anxious and depressed thereafter? Does she want a workaholic brain? Or does she want a brain that is powerful, but also happy and resilient?" (pg. 132) Start at Chapter 7

  19. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    I need to admit something: I don't have kids. I also didn't realize this was a parenting book. But I do teach, and I thought it sounded like a book that would help me in the one aspect that I felt I couldn't currently help my students: teaching them motivation. And it did. Not only does this book go into the science behind how the brain works and what it needs to work, it also sites study after study to back up the tips and tricks and claims that the authors make. It was fantastic. I'm sure it's I need to admit something: I don't have kids. I also didn't realize this was a parenting book. But I do teach, and I thought it sounded like a book that would help me in the one aspect that I felt I couldn't currently help my students: teaching them motivation. And it did. Not only does this book go into the science behind how the brain works and what it needs to work, it also sites study after study to back up the tips and tricks and claims that the authors make. It was fantastic. I'm sure it's helpful as an actual parenting book, but from the educator's standpoint, this book was chalk full of so much helpful and insightful information that I'm currently going back through my notes and highlights to make sure I impliment some of the practices right away. This was one of the most helpful professional development books I have ever read because it didn't just go into theory and pedagogy; it gave real world example and tip and tricks to try. I understand this was written to parents, but if teachers read it as if it was written to them, there is so much that we in the secondary schools could be doing to set up our students for even more success later in life. I loved that some of the sections seemed to be written directly towards the education system even. This was the first time I'd ever heard advice from someone outside the field of education that didn't make me want to roll my eyes. The authors seemed to understand my own frustrations with some of my students' struggles and show me possible solutions. Now, many of the solutions have to be implemented above my head, but... Speaking of, I'm currently going back through my notes and highlights, writing them down and cataloging my thoughts so that I can buy this book and pass it along to my Superintendent. As a side note, I l-o-v-e loved the chapter about college. I teach seniors in a more affluent area, and I cannot tell you how hard it is to convince them that they have options outside of a 4 year university to have a "successful" (whatever that means) future. Overall, I can't speak to this book from a parenting point of view, but from an educator's point of view it was truly superb. I highly recommend it for any teacher who wants to take their job up to the next level and fully influence their students lives for the long haul as much as they possibly can. 5/5 easily. Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to preview this ARC through NetGalley!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cyrus Samii

    In the long run I think this book is going to spare me a lot of grief, and for that I am very grateful to have read it. I wish someone had given this to me a year or two earlier. The book is about strategies for coaching your child to be self-driven and capable of making good decisions for themselves. A big part of the message here is, "lay off." View your role as consultant with your child, not as dictator. Offer help but do no insist that they take it. If you stress a lot about something, they In the long run I think this book is going to spare me a lot of grief, and for that I am very grateful to have read it. I wish someone had given this to me a year or two earlier. The book is about strategies for coaching your child to be self-driven and capable of making good decisions for themselves. A big part of the message here is, "lay off." View your role as consultant with your child, not as dictator. Offer help but do no insist that they take it. If you stress a lot about something, they stress a lot about it, which beyond some point, can impede thinking clearly, so is counterproductive. If your kid expresses a vague ambition, help them to see a route to realizing it, and let them pursue (but don't be pushing them in the back). There are many definitions of "success" and many routes to achieving it, so be open minded. I give four stars instead of five because the book puts a little too much faith in findings from psychology that have since come into question (e.g., the work on stereotype threat). But otherwise it has a message that I appreciate tremendously. I would read this book alongside Faber and Mazlish, which is also outstanding. This book is more about big picture strategy, while Faber and Mazlish is about tactics to navigate specific situations. I think the two books together offer terrific insight on how to be an even keeled and supportive parent, while avoiding needless anxiety and tension in performing this duty.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chalay Cragun

    I wish parenting books would put an age range on books. This book would be most beneficial to read while your child is between the ages 6-12 probably as it prepares you to help navigate their educational career. That being said there were some good things I learned from this book. I do like the idea of being a consultant to your child when it comes to school rather than being their boss or driving force. The authors did seem to spend most of the book pretty much saying all children have learning I wish parenting books would put an age range on books. This book would be most beneficial to read while your child is between the ages 6-12 probably as it prepares you to help navigate their educational career. That being said there were some good things I learned from this book. I do like the idea of being a consultant to your child when it comes to school rather than being their boss or driving force. The authors did seem to spend most of the book pretty much saying all children have learning disorders, sleep problems, and other issues. I also felt like they pushed their meditation agenda way more than needed. It seemed like they think meditation is a cure all for all problems of life. While I appreciated their experiences and opinions it is hard for me to buy into their theories because one or two people they know succeeded with them. As for all parenting books I've read there are some things I'll take with me but for the most part this book dragged on and I didn't buy a lot of their theories. I probably wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless they were at a complete loss as to how to help their child succeed in high school.

  22. 4 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 immediat 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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 on ou 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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Carr

    This book was a good counterbalance to some of the other parenting books I have read recently. Ironically I had a harder time connecting to it because it was about how to help kids feel motivated and in control, two things that were never really an issue for me. As a child who responded well to structure and rules (maybe *too* well?), it was helpful to see some different ways of thinking that might match children with different preferences. The book covers pretty wide swaths of information, so d This book was a good counterbalance to some of the other parenting books I have read recently. Ironically I had a harder time connecting to it because it was about how to help kids feel motivated and in control, two things that were never really an issue for me. As a child who responded well to structure and rules (maybe *too* well?), it was helpful to see some different ways of thinking that might match children with different preferences. The book covers pretty wide swaths of information, so depending on the age of your child(ren) some parts might not be as useful (tbh I completely skimmed the meditation chapter and skipped the one on learning disabilities). I did find myself wanting a bit of structure, but perhaps that is the point -- that not everything is linear and structural.

  26. 4 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 t 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!

  27. 5 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 bei 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!

  28. 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 t 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...

  29. 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.)

  30. 4 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).

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