Feb. 15, 2023

Pushing Kids the Just-Right Amount

How do we know when to let our kids quit the sport they hate or skip a homework assignment? Will it be our fault they miss out on the Olympics or being president? Amy and Margaret discuss when they pushed (or didn't push) their kids and reflect on the outcomes.

Do you worry about finding the balance between forcing your kid to keep doing activities that are good for them (that you already paid for) and not letting them be miserable all the time? How do you keep them on track academically without having to run flashcards with them about the Peloponnesian War for the billionth time? Here's what the research says about when to push our kids - and when to let sleeping (Peloponnesian) dogs lie.

A listener in our Facebook group asks:

"How do you decide when to push your kids? Like when to go from YMCA basketball to the travel team. Or when to go from regular school to the accelerated program, or the private school that's more rigorous. When to apply for the stretch school or the internship? We don't want to ruin hobbies or turn the stress up to 11, obviously. So how do you know which knob to turn and when to turn it so that their ambition, their ability, and their achievement all line up in perfect balance and harmony?"

Amy and Margaret discuss:

  • The “optimal push” and how it's different from over-parenting
  • Achievement-by-proxy distortion (sing out, Louise!)
  • The factors to consider when pushing your child to do something

Ultimately, kids are optimally supported when they believe their parents’ love is not performance-contingent. The answer lies in helping them fulfill their potential without damaging their self-esteem.


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