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Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child Paperback – April 23, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Pushy parents have gotten a bad rap, says psychologist and achievement coach Jim Taylor. In Positive Pushing, Taylor contrasts the old-style pushing of parents overinvested in their kid's report cards and soccer scores with the positive pushing of parents who invite children to gain joy from and mastery in their accomplishments. "Success without happiness is not success at all," he explains.

In building a model of successful achievers, Taylor skewers the self-esteem movement for protecting kids from disappointment and mistakes--the very experiences that build sturdy self-regard. He urges parents to separate their needs from their children's. His marching orders are clear and compelling: guide kids to discover a passion; express love apart from achievement; create a human being, not a "human doing"; use boundaries to construct a safe harbor; and demand accountability. Most important, put kids in charge by teaching them that the results they produce depend on their efforts and actions. Taylor describes red-flag warnings to keep parents on course and offers smart questions for helping kids command their achievements, asking, for example, "Why do you want to do this?" and "What would make this a really great experience for you?"

At times, Taylor's unique approach is undercut by a tendency to quote other sources. Still, his own fresh and insightful words will inspire every parent who reads this book. --Barbara Mackoff --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Taylor, a psychologist who has worked with young achievers in sports, education and the performing arts for 17 years, helps parents determine how to give their child encouragement and the emotional resources not only to succeed but to deal with success in a healthy way. Arguing that pushing is necessary for children to take risks and discover their strengths, he advises parents how to push while focusing on self-esteem, ownership and emotional mastery what he calls the three pillars of successful achievers. Taylor stresses the importance of parental involvement, but warns that many parents go overboard, getting too involved in their child's achievements and denying the child "ownership" of their own experiences. Instead, Taylor suggests parents help their child focus on the process rather than a winning outcome, and keep a balance in their life. To wit, he provides useful guidelines for how much time should be spent on achievement activities, and recommends not more than two such activities per child to ensure that they don't infringe on playtime and family time. In each chapter, he lists "red flags" warning signs in children's behavior that indicate parents are pushing too much or too little. Taylor's thoughtful, clear-eyed approach to a controversial subject will be appreciated by parents raising kids in a competitive world.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books (April 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786888504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786888504
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an astoundingly good book. There is more common sense and sound advice between its covers than I have seen in 40 years of reading on child psychology and parenting strategies. (I am a retired school Headmaster, teacher, and coach of world-class athletes). Positive Pushing has special relevance to parents of 'high achievers', but it is equally valuable for all parents who simply want to help their children be the best they can be. Dr. Taylor focuses on developing value systems, a strong work ethic, self-confidence, ownership, responsibility, self-respect, etc. But this is no 'feel good book.' Dr. Taylor insists that kids must DO POSITIVE THINGS in order to feel good about themselves and to become constructive and successful adults. There is no 'psycho babble' in this book. It is all plain English and common sense. Parents are coached on how to teach their kids that one of the true joys in life is experiencing the process of achieving. Here are some quotes that should whet a reader's appetite: 'A funny thing happens when you raise the bar. People find a way to get over it, once they realize it is expected. Human beings can do amazing things -- if they're asked to.' 'Positive pushing emphasizes creating options for children from which they can choose a direction, and stressing that doing nothing is not an option.' 'You need to strike a balance between giving your child the first push toward achievement in terms of direction, opportunities and resources, and then stepping back and enabling her to to find her own personal connection with the activity. Your involvement must shift from direction and guidance to encouragement and freedom.' This is good stuff. Dr.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
As a psychologist who often works with parents, a parent of two school-age children, and a soccer coach, I found this book extremely helpful both personally and in my work. I would happily recommend it to parents without reservation, something I can't say about that many parenting books! It is unusually clear and well-written (something I can't say about the writing of that many psychologists!), relatively jargon-free, and organized well. The ideas are well-integrated with research findings as well as reflecting Dr. Taylor's own considerable clinical experience. His discussion of perfectionism, fear of failure, and defining of success in terms of effort and setting realistic goals were particularly useful and applicable not just to children. This book is bigger than its title in that it also addresses emotional maturity in general, and how to build and foster maturity in our children so that they can be both successful achievers and happier people. The definition of achievement in terms of one's efforts and perseverence in pursuit of personally meaningful goals could make a huge difference in the lives of many adults as well as children. I see too many adults in my practice who were crippled by low self-esteem and grandiose expectations of themselves that I can't help but appreciate this book. I was particularly struck by Dr. Taylor's discussion of the child who is objectively successful but can't appreciate his or her success; this seems a common and heartbreaking problem that does not get enough attention.
If this book has any faults, it is only that in his efforts to be clear and to hold parents accountable, Dr.
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Format: Paperback
Jim Taylor is pushing too hard in trying to resolve various parenting and parenting/adult issues in one book. He probable knows a lot about achievement but he couldn't convince me about how positive pushing/control can be with kids--he starts with a promising argument but feters out in his style of discussion. He cites good research but his own ideas/interpretations are unoriginal and unconvincing. He is also inconsistent in his opinions (i.e., unconditional love does not exist then in next sentence he says that parents are to love their kids without condition). He also talks about achieving "balance" without real-life solutions. He does have lists of behavioral solutions in the end of the chapters but they seem disjointed and almost exhaustive, making me feel more like my kids and I would be more exhausted than "balanced". The tone of his book was bland and too distancing--I found myself skimming his chapter intros. He sounds more like a motivational speaker or academician than an experienced parent (he cites kids/families he's worked with but no personal stories about his own family). For a more "balanced" approach in parenting and easier read, I recommend Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has the wrong title: Positive Pushing. It is not about "pushing;" it is about encouraging, inspiring and guiding children. Most importantly this is a book that teaches parents how to pay attention, how to respect, and how to respond to their children in ways that will contribute to their becoming satisfied and fulfilled in childhood and beyond.
As a psychotherapist I spend a significant amount of my time helping people to break free from all or none, black and white thinking learned --- you guessed it --- in childhood. Dr. Taylor's emphasis on an expanded definition for success lays a solid foundation for teaching children how to experience themselves outside the box of such limited thinking, setting the stage for us to offer the next generation legitimate alternatives to double-binding, self-defeating concepts of success that have nothing to do with genuine happiness.
Best selling author Alice Miller (The Drama of the Gifted Child, Breaking Down the Walls of Silence, etc) reminds us that if we are serious about changing the world, it can only begin with caring for our children. Positive Pushing will help you be a better parent --- definitely. But the book's own potential is bigger than that. Whether or not you have children, I suggest that you read this one.
- Thom Rutledge, author of Embracing Fear (HarperSanFrancisco)
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