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Self-Driven Child: A Pathway for Success

The Self-Driven Child: A Parent Call to Action

Read The Self-Driven Child and discover how advances in brain research and behavioral studies will reduce anxiety and stress for you and your kid. Regardless of how your kid is classified by the schools, all kids have talents that can lead to success.

This book changes the way you and your kid look at each other.

To begin growing your kid’s talents, take a look at this action-oriented book of ideas and suggestions to reduce anxiety and stress for you and your kid; a book that has been ranked Number One on Amazon’s Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, and Parenting lists.

When parents see their children’s problems as opportunities to build the relationship instead of as negative, burdensome irritations, it totally changes the nature of parent-child interaction. Parents become more willing, even excited, about deeply understanding and helping their children.    Stephen Covey


The authors of The Self-Driven Child explain the importance of control and autonomy for children and teens so they have a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. Watch the video.

The Self-Driven Child: Restoring Faith in Your Kid’s Talents

You know your kid’s talents and her potential for success. But when it comes to homework she continues to struggle. Find out what you can do right now. 

The Self-Driven Child focuses on real everyday issues.

Frustrated and often angry your kid says things like:

  • I never get things right.No matter how much I study, I’m always wrong.
  • I really thought I knew the right answers. I practiced as hard as I could but when it came to the test I froze.
  • I thought he was my friend but when it came to being picked, it’s as if I was invisible.
  • I’m tired of trying.No matter what I do, nothing ever goes right for me.

How Talents Develop and Grow

Without going into too much detail, let’s discuss how your kid’s talents develop. During the first year of life, his brain forms about a hundred billion neuron cells that are linked together by several hundred trillion synaptic connections. These connections create a neural network that processes and exchanges enormous amounts of information.  Continue reading

The Self-Driven Child Reviews

“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, success, and optimal development. Its message—that we should trust kids to have more control over their own lives—is one every parent needs to hear.”

Tina Payne Bryson Ph.D.  Co-author of The Whole-Brain Child and The Yes Brain

“Stixrud and Johnson combine science and compassion to make the case that parental over-control is eroding our kids’ confidence, competence, and mental health. Accessible, compelling and richly researched, The Self Driven Child reveals the clear links between the stresses of competitive schooling and the anxiety and depression that are so widespread in kids today. This urgently-needed book has the potential to revolutionize the way we parent.”

Judith Warner, author of A Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety

“Stixrud and Johnson provide compassionate, well-supported suggestions and strategies for parents to help their kids deal with ever-more-competitive academics and extracurriculars…By studying the levels of stress and motivation in children, the authors discovered that ‘a low sense of control is enormously stressful and that autonomy is the key to developing motivation.’ Stixrud and Johnson theorize that a sense of control is the ‘antidote to stress,’ touching on common stressors for American kids, such as social media, demanding homework, and lack of sleep . . . The authors make a highly persuasive case for how parents can help their children segue from feeling stressed and powerless to feeling loved, trusted, and supported.”

Publishers Weekly


The Self-Driven Child is a Call to Action for parents. One of the biggest challenges facing kids with special needs is they are required to learn through a schedule and process that has little to do with their talents, interests, and natural development.   

Purchase Self-Driven Child

In the Self-Driven Child   .   .   .

Common sense and science say there’s a much better way for kids with ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia to learn. Here are three simple guidelines:

  1. Emphasize talents and interests over a set curriculum
  2. Encourage strength-based self-talk
  3. Promote kid-driven learning

1.Emphasize talents and interests over a set curriculum

  1. Where is it written that the only way to learn how to read or add is through a directed curriculum?
  2. That makes no sense and sets up kids to be frustrated and stressed. 
  3. Why not have kids learn to read, add, and everything else in relation to what’s important to them.
  4. When kids are encouraged to use their talents — what they are good at, and their interests — what they like doing, learning has purpose and meaning. 
  5. When kids use their talents to explore their interests, learning becomes exciting and fun.

Identifying Talents – Be a talent guide for your kids. Public education focuses on kids learning a curriculum guided by a set of standards for every subject and grade level.  Kids are required to learn a curriculum separate and apart from their talents and interests.  Click here for a set of links to a variety of assessments that can be given to kids to determine their talents, strengths, character, and interests.

Trust Kids & Give Them Choices

2. Encourage strength-based self-talk

  1. Kids, like adults, are constantly talking to themselves.
  2. Self-talk is something everyone does naturally when they are awake.
  3. Depending on what you tell yourself, self-talk can either motivate you and give you confidence or make you feel inadequate and discouraged.
  4. Kids with special needs often have an ongoing communications stream of negative chatter, causing a destructive downward spiral. 
  5. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where false beliefs and assumptions ultimately shape their reality. 
  6. It makes logical sense that when kids are placed in special classes or pulled out of class for special instruction or are labeled with certain disabilities, they see a reality that suggests there is something wrong with them.
  7. One way to reverse the pattern of negative thinking is to provide strength-based opportunities
  8. To do this, emphasize your kid’s talents over deficits and opportunities over obstacles.
  9. Combining talents with interests you have an opportunity for success. 
  10. Don’t worry if your kid doesn’t adjust or like what the schools want him to do.
  11. Focus on what exists and interests your kid and make that the new reality — a strength-based reality.
  12. With this new reality comes strength-based self-talk.

3. Promote kid-driven learning

  1. Let’s build schools around how kids learn. Everything about the learning process is based on one single idea:  real learning is internally driven. 
  2. We should not be surprised kids resist learning subjects that do not interest them.  While kids may memorize the right answers for a test, we also know little learning takes place.
  3. The key to kid-driven learning is based on the opinion that the talents of our kids are more important than passing a test. 
  4. What is important is, let’s create a school where kids use their talents and interests to learn.  
  5. In this school, there is little parent and kid stress and anxiety.  Click here to promote strength-based education based on kid-driven learning.

Cutting-Edge Brain Research

America’s Public Education is the Result of History, not Research

Public education is the result of history, not research. Organized during the Protestant Reformation, schools were top-down and authoritarian where the curriculum — the Bible — was to be taught and not questioned.

When schools were taken over by the government and made compulsory, the basic purpose and structure remained unchanged.

Kids are required to learn a curriculum that is top-down without question. 

The Bible has been replaced with subjects, standards, and tests. 

Indoctrination and obedience to a top-down curriculum continue.

It’s no wonder that many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators either left school early or said they hated school.

The Self-Driven Child: Choose strengths over problems and hope over obstacles

  • Give your kids the opportunity to make as many choices for himself as possible. 
  • Give your kids more control and choices over their life.
  • Emphasize your kid’s talents and interests; not other people’s expectations, demands, and agendas.
  • Discuss your kid’s talents and interests with her. Ask questions and give suggestions. 
  • Discuss with your kids to figure out what’s really important to them.
  • Tell your kids how much you love them and that grades and tests are not who they are or ever will be. 

Your kid is a bundle of talents, interests, and energy that our schools ignore.  From social media to homework, click here to receive dozens of ideas and strategies to create a productive, positive relationship with your kid and build a family culture of success. 

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