The Self-Driven Child

Is homework a fight?  Does your child read for pure enjoyment?  Are you finding yourself bribing your child to read and complete their homework?  

This is a common struggle for many parents and as we strive to help our children succeed and develop good habits for life. It is common for most parents to set up strict guidelines, limits and expectations to help them reach success. However, I have found that I can’t make my kids want something they dont want and I can’t make my kids not want something they do want!  Wouldn’t things be a lot easier if our children and students actually wanted to finish their homework because they were interested in what they were learning about?  Wouldn’t it be great if they actually picked up a book on their own and read it because they felt like it?  Does that seem like a far-fetched dream?

It is not.  If we give our children some control of what they learn about, their interest in their learning will grow. Offering choices about when they do their homework, what they learn about and which assignments they want to tackle first, give them some control over their own education and develop autonomy in their learning.  This also helps to develop more mature decision making skills.   

The book, The Self-Driven Child by William Strixrud and Ned Johnson, teaches and supports the development of autonomy and a sense of control for our children over their own lives.  He states, a healthy sense of control is related to virtually everything we want for our children, including physical and mental health, academic success and happiness. He also noted, adolescents and young adults today are 5-8 times more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety disorder than young people during times of the Great Depression, WWII and the Cold War.  Could this really be the cause of too much pressure, stress, micro-managing of their day?  

If we want to help children and students become successful, life-long readers and learners, we want them to learn to make healthy decisions for themselves.  We want them to be able to choose right from wrong when we are not around.  If we overstructure and continue to choose for them, they are not given the opportunity to practice to think for themselves and act independently.  Probably the most predominant area of a child’s life is their education.  If we apply these principles to our children’s education, and give them choice in their learning, in their reading and in their education, they will strive to make better choices for themselves because they alone are the recipients of the consequences of their own choices.  

We can focus on helping our students and children find things they love, highlighting their strengths, seek books that spark their interests, and help them develop an inner motivation to seek knowledge and satisfy their curiosity.   This is the self-driven child.
I highly recommend this book, “The Self-Driven Child” by William Stixrud, PhD, and Ned Johnson for anyone who might be struggling with the ever-so common “homework war” or “reading war” or “war” of any kind!  Your kids will thank you and life just might get easier with a few less battles to fight 🙂