Who's in the Burrow?

Parents Contemplate Positive Pushing

Graeme Plant, father of Riley ('13), reads the
String of Hopes during Parents' Weekend
SBA Parents' Weekend 2011 featured an address by noted psychologist and author Dr. Jim Taylor.

In his address, entitled "Positive Pushing," Dr. Taylor focused on the following question:

"Should I push my child?"

The emphatic answer, according to Dr. Taylor:

"You must push your children. It's your right, it's your responsibility, it's your absolute moral imperative.

"What's important is how you push, when you push, and, most importantly, when to push back."

Taylor's address drew a distinction between negative "old-style" pushing and what he has dubbed "positive pushing."

Old-style pushing is "negative, it's controlling, it's angry," and sends the message "if you don't live up to our expectations, we won't love you."

Positive pushing, said Taylor, is "supportive, loving, encouraging, and sends a very different message: no matter how you perform, we will love you."

Taylor emphasized that he used the term "perform" rather than "behave" - actions, he said, do have consequences - and described the three pillars of happy and successful achievers: 

  • Self esteem
  • Ownership
  • Emotional mastery

One of the failings of modern society, said Taylor, is in not allowing children to fail.

"The most successful people in the world failed frequently and monumentally on the way to success.

"If you don't let your kids fail, they are not going to have self esteem."

Kids develop confidence, Taylor argues, by failing - falling down, getting back up, and trying again.

"Ski racing is a wonderful sport for that, because there is a lot of failure."

Taylor educated parents about what he calls the "red flags of self esteem," and cautioned that parents should keep an eye out for these red flags. Their appearance in their children is, he said, a call to parental action.

What follows is a short movie of the parents' weekend festivities, along with - for the benefit of those who were unable to attend - the slide show that parents in attendance saw at Friday night's social gathering.