The Self-Driven Child

A clinical neuropsychologist and test-prep guru combine cutting-edge brain science with insights from their work with families to make a radical case for giving kids more agency to unleash their full potential.

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Many of us know we’re putting too much pressure on our kids–but how do we get off this crazy train? We want our children to succeed, to be their best, and to do their best, but what if they are not on board?

A few years ago, Ned Johnson and Bill Stixrud 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 hit college and unraveled. Johnson runs PrepMatters, an elite tutoring service that teaches teens how to perform better on standardized tests. Stixrud is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps patients suffering from ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Both have devoted their lives to coaching kids and together they’ve hit on a counterintuitive solution to help kids unlock their full potential. A healthy motivation hinges on having a strong sense of control. Even young children need to feel that their views matter. So how do you give your kids more control without giving up all authority as a parent?

The Self-Driven Child offers a combination of brain science; the latest discoveries in behavioral therapy; case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens Stixrud and Johnson have helped over the years; and concrete advice that you can act on tonight to teach you how to set your child on the real road to success. We can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they have to take the wheel. Those who have never been allowed to make meaningful decisions until later in life are likely to flounder. The Self-Driven Child will give you the tools you need to help your child navigate life with confidence and find his or her own path.