3 Useful Tips To Raise A Happy, Self-Motivated Kid

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The inclination to be a “tiger” parent is hard to resist.

As competition for school admissions and athletics clubs swells, the pressure to steep children in rigorous curriculums starts pretty early. But evidence suggests that authoritarian approaches are hardly a healthy strategy. Put simply, it just doesn’t work well.

How then, you might ask, does a parent go about inspiring the internal drive and lifelong love of learning that’s necessary to their child’s growth? Author Shimi Kang wondered the same thing, and she’s come up with a solution.

As the current director of Vancouver’s Child and Youth Mental Health and a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia, Kang’s got a lot to say about the matter. The Harvard-trained child and adult psychiatrist aims to subvert the “tiger” parenting model with one of her own: the “dolphin’s way.” This alternative style focuses on maintaining a healthy balance of hands-free and hands-on parenting.

In The Self-Motivated Kid, Kang introduces her four-part method for cultivating self-motivation in children. To start, check out these tips that detail three pitfalls parents can avoid:

On Overgathering:
“Children are simply spending too much time in scheduled activities and advanced classes. It’s not hard to understand why parents want to give children whatever ‘edge’ they can…Depriving children of their ability to respond to these needs means denying them the basics of survival and seriously affecting their motivations…Engaging in hobbies and sports is great, but being so busy that little time is left to engage in life is terrible.”

On Overprotecting
“Parents would do almost anything to protect their children, from rushing into a burning building to staring down a grizzly bear to diving into an icy river to save them…However, we forget that exposure to adversity, trial and error, and the real world is precisely what allows children to acquire the life skills they actually need to protect themselves from harm throughout their lives. Children who are overprotected don’t develop resilience or self-motivation for real-life problem solving, which of course is what leads to real-life success.”

On Overcompeting

“It’s easy to forget that humans are wholly social beings and that we’re not always meant to be ‘number one.’ We also belong to our community as an equal — in a give-and-take relationship in which we’re meant to connect and contribute to one another in a meaningful way…Hypercompetitive tiger parents and their children often live lonely, imbalanced lives.”

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