Positive Pushing

positive-pushingamazon-five-starsThe challenge of balancing childhood achievement and happiness often puts parents in a position of uncertainty. If children are pushed too hard, they may rebel and achieve neither success nor happiness. If parents don’t push enough, their children may be self-satisfied and unmotivated. Parents often feel they must choose between two alternatives: sheltering their children from the cruel realities of the world so they can experience a “happy childhood” or driving their kids so they can get into the best schools and achieve financial success as adults.

Dr. Taylor avoids this “either/or” choice that parents face and, instead, shows that there is a better course for parents and children: achievement and happiness can be mutually inclusive. By providing active guidance and positive support, parents free their children to seek out and pursue true success and happiness in life. Dr. Taylor distinguishes between children who achieve success from those who are successful achievers—children who are successful in their achievement efforts and gain great joy and satisfaction in those efforts. He introduces parents to the Three Pillars of Successful Achievers: self-esteem, ownership, and emotional mastery. Children can develop a deep and resilient belief in themselves, gain a sense of commitment and responsibility toward their achievement efforts, and develop the emotional mastery to overcome the many obstacles and setbacks that they will experience on the road to success.

Dr. Taylor shows that failing to push children can be as disastrous for children as parents pushing their children too much. Dr. Taylor advocates the use of “positive pushing” to encourage children to become successful achievers. He describes why pushing has gotten a bad rap over the past 30 years, why it is essential for parents to push their children, and most importantly, how to push them—the most effective ways to push, how hard to push, and when to let up. For parents who are afraid to push their children, Dr. Taylor shows how to push, when to push, and when to back off. For parents who push their children too hard and find that their efforts are producing the opposite of the desired effect, Dr. Taylor shows those parents how to provide their children with a positive, caring, and motivating impetus to achieve.

This book emphasizes achievement for all children—not just those who are gifted. Any child can become successful and happy if their parents do the right thing. Whether a child is capable of achievement in academics, the arts, sports, or other areas, Dr. Taylor’s guidance will help parents find a way to nurture their children as achievers and people, and to strengthen parents’ own relationship with their children. Dr. Taylor provides parents with the rationale, understanding, and tools for raising children who are confident, motivated, emotionally mature, and joyful.

Positive Pushing is structured around the Three Pillars of Successful Achievers. Each chapter follows a meaningful and practical progression. First, parents are introduced to the fundamental issue that relates to their child’s achievement and happiness and are educated about its impact on their child. Next, parents are shown the “red flags” they should look for in their child and in themselves to indicate that a problem may be evident. Finally, parents are shown practical ways to resolve the red flags and guide their children toward success and happiness.

Grounded in the latest research and Dr. Taylor’s own extensive work with achieving children, Positive Pushing shows parents how to identify potential obstacles in their child’s development and what they may be doing to interfere with their child’s growth. Parents will immediately resonate with the concerns Dr. Taylor raises and the case studies he describes—“Oh my gosh! That’s my child.” Importantly, Dr. Taylor shows parents how to take positive and active steps to help their child to become a successful achiever.

Ultimately, Dr. Taylor gives parents permission to (positively) push their children to become successful (and shows them how to do it properly) and empowers parents with sound psychological insights to guide them in raising their children to be successful and happy.


Introduction: Positive Pushing


Chapter 1: Aren’t I Good Enough for You?
Chapter 2: Can’t You Just Love Me for Me?
Chapter 3: Who is the Real Me?


Chapter 4: Whose Life Is This, Anyway?
Chapter 5: Who’s In Charge Here?
Chapter 6: Why Won’t You Let Me Grow Up?


Chapter 7: Why Am I So Scared?
Chapter 8: Will I be a Child Forever?
Chapter 9: What Can I Do?


About Positive Pushing

Children do not like discomfort. When they first try something new, they will often put forth effort until it gets difficult or uncomfortable. Then they will look to others—most often to you—to see whether they have gone far enough. If you say, “Great job. You can stop if you want,” they often will. By stopping, your child will never find out what he is capable of and will miss out on the satisfaction of moving out of his comfort zone and pushing his limits. If you push him to try harder and persist longer, “Good job so far, but we bet you can do even better,” he is more likely to face his discomfort and attain a higher level of achievement and satisfaction. Observes Boston Globe writer, John Powers, “A funny thing happens when you raise the bar. People find a way to get over it, once they realize it’s expected. Human beings can do amazing things—if they’re asked to.”

A powerful metaphor is that of the mother bird and the baby bird in the nest. The time has arrived for the baby bird to learn to fly. But the baby doesn’t know it. If left to its own devices, it might remain in the warmth, comfort, and safety of the nest forever. The mother knows the time has come for the baby bird to leave the nest. The mother knew that any earlier the baby would have been unprepared to fly and might have fallen to the ground. Any later and the mother knows that the baby would resist leaving the nest. So, with a firm nudge, the mother bird pushes the baby bird out of the nest, having complete faith her baby is ready. And the baby bird does fly!

If you don’t push your child, she will have a much more difficult time developing these essential elements of becoming a successful achiever. Some people have described pushing children as a form of child abuse (and it can be), but not pushing your child may be a form of neglect that can be equally destructive. Like the mother bird with her baby bird, you need to be willing to push your child so that she will learn to fly and to soar to her greatest heights.

Goal of Positive Pushing

An essential message I want to convey in Positive Pushing is the need for you to play a deliberate and vigorous role in raising your child. This emphasis requires that you actively guide your child in ways that will encourage his positive development. This message means that you need to thoughtfully explore the values, beliefs, and attitudes that guide your life and you make a conscious decision of how you want to raise your child.

You can only communicate this message effectively if you do so in a positive, confident, and loving way. Your child needs to sense that whatever you do—whether rewarding a job well done or punishing bad behavior—you are doing it out of love and the belief that it is best for your child.

The ability of your child to become a successful achiever will be grounded in essential beliefs that you must foster in her. Drs. Aubrey Fine and Michael Sachs, authors of Total Sports Experience for Kids, offer a valuable summary of those beliefs (I have added #1, #7, and the parenthetic comments): (1) I am loved (sense of value), (2) I am capable (sense of competence), (3) It is important to try (value of effort), (4) I am responsible for my day (sense of ownership), (5) It is okay to make mistakes (accept imperfections), (6) I can handle things when they go wrong (responding to adversity), (7) I enjoy what I do (value of passion and happiness), and (8) I can change (being a master). Positive Pushing is devoted to instilling these fundamental beliefs in your child. I encourage you to post these eight beliefs on your refrigerator as a constant reminder of what all of your parenting efforts are directed toward and what beliefs you most want to instill in your child.

The philosophy and approach that I advocate in Positive Pushing is aimed at helping you fulfill three essential goals. Everything you do with your child needs to be in his or her best interest; must promote his or her achievement, happiness, and healthy growth into a joyful and vital adult; and finally, must foster a strong and loving relationship between you and your child.

About Successful Achievers

Parents who want their children to achieve something called “success” may find that this goal conflicts with their desire for their children to also become happy. Success, as frequently defined by our society emphasizes wealth and social status, but is often at odds with the values of satisfaction, contentment, and happiness. A perusal of the psychology section of any bookstore shows that the goal of achieving success by itself is inadequate. As Dr. Jack Wetter, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist, observes, “On the one side, you’ve got books on how to raise achieving, successful children. And across from that, you’ve got books for adults on how to overcome your depression and increase your self-esteem.”

The purpose—and the theme—of Positive Pushing is to guide you in raising your child to be a successful achiever. Successful achievers are distinguished from those who simply achieve success in that, for successful achievers, success and happiness are synonymous. Not only do they not view success and happiness as mutually exclusive, parents of successful achievers see them as necessarily mutually inclusive. Success without happiness is not success at all.

Implicit in the notion of successful achievers is that a necessary part of success and happiness is the internalization by children of universally-held values such as respect, consideration, kindness, generosity, fairness, altruism, integrity, honesty, interdependence, and compassion. Children cannot become successful achievers unless they adopt and live by these essential life-enriching values.

The development of successful achievers comes from fostering the Three Pillars of Successful Achievers: self-esteem, ownership, and emotional mastery. These three areas provide the foundation for raising children who are successful, happy, and who possess life-affirming values. The goal of Positive Pushing is to show you how to raise your child on these three pillars so that their childhood development will lead to lives of success and happiness.

First Pillar: Self-Esteem

Self-esteem has been perhaps the most misunderstood and poorly used developmental area in recent generations. In the last few decades, parents were led to believe that self-esteem developed if a child felt loved and valued. This belief caused parents to shower their children with love, encouragement, and support regardless of what their children actually did.

Yet this “unconditional love” is only one half of the self-esteem equation. The second part is that children need to develop a sense of competence and mastery over their world. Most basically, children must learn that their actions matter, that their actions have consequences. Since the 1970’s, parents have often neglected to provide their children with this essential component of self-esteem.

Your child will develop high self-esteem from receiving appropriate love, encouragement, and support, but also from the sense of competence he develops from opportunities you give him to learn and use skills in the pursuit of achievement. High self-esteem also acts as the foundation for the other two pillars that form the essence of successful achievers.

Second Pillar: Ownership

Another mistake that parents have often made in trying to develop high self-esteem in their children was to provide them with too much love, encouragement, and support. By investing so much of their own self-esteem in their child’s efforts, parents were, in effect, assuming ownership of their child’s achievements. Though these efforts were often well-intentioned, the effect was that children felt no sense of connectedness and responsibility for their efforts. The children end up being unable to say, “I’m doing this because I want to.”

Children need to gain a sense of ownership of their life’s interests, efforts, and achievements. This second pillar, ownership, means that they engage in an activity out of an enduring love for it and an internally-derived determination to do their very best. This ownership also provides them with an immense source of gratification and joy from their efforts that further motivates them to strive higher in their achievement activities.

Third Pillar: Emotional Mastery

The third pillar of successful achievers, emotional mastery, is perhaps the most neglected aspect of a child’s development. Parents have been led to believe that letting their children experience negative emotions such as frustration, anger, and sadness will harm them. Based on this belief, parents have felt the need to protect their children from feeling badly. They rationalize failure, distract children from deeply experiencing emotions, try to placate negative emotions, and create artificial positive emotions.

Yet, parents who protect their children from their emotions are actually interfering with their children’s emotional growth. These children end up never learning how to effectively deal with their emotions and enter adulthood ill-equipped for its emotional demands. Only by being allowed to experience emotions are children able to figure out what emotions they are feeling, what the emotions mean to them, and how they can manage them effectively.

This third pillar explains that you will want to give your child opportunities to experience emotions fully—both positive and negative—and provide her with guidance to understand and gain mastery over her emotional life. Children who do not develop emotionally can still achieve success, but the price they pay is often discontentment and unhappiness in their successes. Emotional mastery enables children to not only become successful, but also to find satisfaction and joy in their efforts.


Television Interview

NBC’s Today Show with Al Roker, April 9, 2002.

Today Show appearance

Radio Interviews

WGN Chicago, May, 7, 2002
KTAR, Phoenix, May 17, 2002
WBT, Charlotte, July 23, 2002
WAAM, Ann Arbor, July 24, 2002
WEEA, Baltimore, August 7, 2002
WGY, Albany, NY, August 14, 2002
KFBK, Sacramento, August 15, 2002
WOOD, Grand Rapids, MI, August 28, 2002
KPAM , Portland, OR, August 28, 2002
WTVN, Columbus, OH, August, 29, 2002
Sports Byline (nationally syndicated), August 29, 2002
KOIT, San Francisco, Positive Parenting, January 5, 2003
NPR, The Parent’s Journal with Bobbi Conner, February 10, 2003
The Parenting Report (nationally syndicated), January 29, 2003
WBZ, Boston, July 3, 2003 The Shmuley Show, TalkAmerica (nationally syndicated), July 14, 2003

Newspapers Articles

The Challenger Newspaper, Wilmington, NC. Circulation: 5,000
The Apache County Reporter, Eagar, AZ, 1,500
Fairfield Echo, Fairfield, CT, 23,000
Newport Daily News, Newport, RI, 13,540
Twin Peaks Observer, San Francisco, 20,000
Indian Hill Journal, Loveland, OH, 2,500
Crestview News Bulletin, Crestview, FL, 3,202
Native American Times, Tulsa, OK, 36,000
San Marino Tribune, San Marino, CA, 100,000+
Denver-Herald Dispatch, Denver, CO, 8,500
The Independent, Collier, TN, 2,600
Holly Springs Sun, NC, 4148
Apex Herald, NC, 3184
Fuquay Independent, NC, 4,717
The Bigfork Eagle, Missoula, MT, 4600
Dos Mundos, Kansas City, MO, 20,000
Phillips County Review, Phillipsburg, KS, 2000
The Herald-Mail, Hagerstown, MD, 21,175
The Intelligencer, Philadelphia, PA

Parenting Magazines

Parents, September, 2002; July, 2003
Your StepFamily, September/October, 2003; Cary, IL, 50,000
Singlemomz, Brooklyn, NY, 10,000
Los Angeles Family, Los Angeles, 150,000

Out of His League by Sally Lee Parents, September, 2002, p. 7

Q: My 8-year-old loves to play team sports, but he’s not very good, and coaches let him play only about two minutes at a time. Should I talk to him about his mistakes?

A: You can ask him if he’s having a good time, says Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a San Francisco psychologist and author of Positive Pushing (Hyperion, 2002), or mention that it looks like he’s trying really hard. But beyond that, giving your child feedback about how he played is not appropriate. “That’s not your job, unless you’re his official coach.” However, points out Dr. Taylor, at this age, all the kids should have equal playing time. “These games shouldn’t be about winning but about participation. In fact, they shouldn’t even be about playing well or poorly but about developing qualities—reliability, teamwork, and perseverance—that will enable him to be successful and happy in the future and not necessarily in this sport.” Dr. Taylor suggests that you talk to the coach about the team’s philosophy. “Find out why your son isn’t getting more of a chance to play. If it’s because the emphasis is on winning, you might want to look for a league with a more age-appropriate philosophy.”

Raising Kids Who Succeed by Mary Mohler Family Circle, April 23, 2002, p. 32

With kids today stressed out and overscheduled, many parents wonder whether they should skip the piano lessons and the chores, and let kids set their own pace. “Overscheduling is harmful,” says Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Positive Pushing (Hyperion, 2002). “But not only is it okay to push, it’s your responsibility to do so,” says Dr. Taylor. Would a baby bird leave the nest if its parents didn’t offer encouragement? It’s our job to help our children do their best, which means getting them to see the connection between effort and outcome. “And achievement is always about effort,” says Dr. Taylor, “not about talent.” The secret to positive pushing is that you model, you coach, you encourage—never threaten or nag—and you stress that doing nothing is not an option. Here’s how to get behind your children.

If parents have their own source of meaning and validity, they won’t need to live through their children. Your child should be allowed to own his accomplishments.

Help your child find a passion. When kids have something they care deeply about, they are far less likely to behave in destructive ways.

Share expectations and teach the difference between expectations and goals. Goals are possibilities; an expectation is an assumption that something will be achieved.

Redefine success and failure. Make kids see that it’s really about setting and achieving goals that express and affirm your values. True success includes feeling happy.

Let kids feel deeply. Don’t try to protect your child from unpleasant emotions. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Perfectionism doesn’t make you perfect; it makes you miserable.

Weighing the Price of ‘Perfect’ in Family Life: Parents face pressure to push their children into many activities and to be involved as well by Marilyn Gardner. The Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2002.

When her two children were small, Bugs Peterschmidt made a quiet vow: She would not become “one of those moms whose kids are in a ton of things.”

But by the time her son reached sixth grade, he was involved in six activities. No wonder, perhaps, that when soccer sign-up sheets arrived, both of her children said no. They just wanted to stay home that summer. Rather than push, she let them follow their leanings.

“It was a huge success,” says Mrs. Peterschmidt, of Plymouth, Minn., describing their summer. “Cousins came to visit, and we’d visit cousins.” Instead of spending four evenings a week at soccer practice, the family enjoyed leisurely dinners at home.

Yet when acquaintances learn that her children have, for now, dropped all activities except music lessons, they respond with incredulity. In an era characterized by overcommitted children, overinvolved parents, and pressure to succeed at an early age, the Peterschmidts’ brave approach is hardly the typical American way of parenting.

But here and there, small signs of change are appearing, which support decisions like Peterschmidt’s. Several new books warn against excessive pushing and parental overinvolvement. A grassroots group in suburban Minneapolis is also challenging the competitive culture of parenting. Its organizers want to create a better balance between family life and outside activities…

…That cultural conversation begins with a fundamental question: What is a good parent? One who is heavily invested in children’s activities, pressing hard to help them build impressive “résumés” of their accomplishments? Or one who guides gently from the sidelines, mindful that every added activity exacts a price from the whole family in lost time together?…

…Jim Taylor, whose book, “Positive Pushing,” will be published in April, offers several reasons for parents’ extreme investment in their children.

Many parents understandably want to ensure that their children will become financially successful. To that end, they push them to earn top grades and high SAT scores so they can get into the best schools.

In addition, the potential rewards of greatness, particularly in sports, have increased dramatically. That encourages some parents to pressure a child to become a professional athlete. As a cautionary tale, Taylor, who works with young achievers and their parents, recommends the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” It illustrates, he says, what can happen when parents become overly invested in their child’s achievements and activities.

Taylor also laments the ubiquitous pop-culture messages that emphasize success and happiness, particularly success. Popular culture, he notes, offers extremely narrow definitions of success: wealth, fame, power, status, beauty. “Very few people can live up to that.”…

…The other extreme, simply taking a laissez-faire approach and letting children do – or refuse to do – whatever they want, is not the answer either, of course.

Taylor emphasizes that parents need to push their children based on what is best for the children, not what is best for themselves. If children understand that an activity is in their best interests, then they will accept it, he finds….

…Taylor and other family experts remain pessimistic about the possibilities for widespread societal change. “The force of our popular culture, driven by money and superficial values, cannot be resisted,” he says. But change can take place at a “micro-level,” in families and schools.

When changes do occur, the rewards can benefit everyone in the family, Peterschmidt and others say. She cites the advantages her family experienced after her children cut back on activities.

“The biggest thing is that since we have done this, we are rested,” she says. “Not only are our kids rested, because they’re not in a ton of stuff, but my husband and I are rested, because we’re not driving them everywhere. We weren’t living in the moment when we were always busy. We were living by the schedule. The return on our investment of spending time together has been enormous.”


Positive Pushing was featured in the April, 2002 Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club.



Barnes & Noble Editorial Review

We parents experience such a thrill when our kids show aptitude. Wow, he scored a goal in pee-wee soccer? Onto the World Cup! Oh, look at the color choices in this finger painting. Watch out, Museum of Modern Art! Sure, we’d all like our kids to become rich and famous and take care of us in our old age. On the other hand, we want our children to become functional adults who don’t need therapy three times a week. How can we reconcile the two and raise children who are happy and successful?

Jim Taylor acknowledges that our society’s emphasis on wealth and social status “is often at odds with experiencing satisfaction, contentment and happiness.” His goal is teaching parents to raise successful achievers — people with high self-esteem who are accountable for their actions and maintain mastery of their emotions. In order to get our kids off the couch and away from their video games in the first place, we must set high expectations for them, push them beyond what they think they’re capable of. But we must do it positively and with love. Taylor warns us, in the form of “red flags,” about the many ways that we end up sending detrimental messages to children about their self-worth. Without the foundation of a secure parental relationship, “high-performers” are only going through the motions of their chosen “achieving activity” and will eventually rebel.

Positive Pushing will certainly benefit parents whose children are already demonstrating talent in athletics, the arts, or academics. But even those who want nothing more than for their child to grow up and find a job that suits them will find wisdom in the cautionary tales of parents who take their children’s successes and failures too personally. Taylor delves deeply into the psyche of high achievers to provide insight and strategy to parents who want to motivate their children to excellence — and happiness. (Jessica Leigh Lebos)

amazon.com Editorial 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

Booklist American Library Association

Parents eternally struggle to strike a balance between complacency and overzealousness in the way they push their children. Taylor, a Ph.D and counselor to children in sports, the arts, and education, presents a sensible plan for achieving that balance. His approach is three-tiered, starting with self-esteem, moving on to ownership, and finally arriving at emotional mastery. Each pillar is thoroughly explored and explained with research and clinical backup. Taylor demystifies old “truths” and offers new advice on child rearing.

Somewhere between the overindulgent parent who never says no and praises everything her child does and the overly critical parent who condemns her child’s every move is the middle ground that Taylor advocates, which relies on parents’ ability to mitigate their own expectations based on their child’s emotional, physical, and intellectual makeup. Still, parents are advised to push a child to his full potential, to be sure, but understanding a child’s development is key to avoiding common pitfalls to motivation. A positive, useful guide for helping children succeed. (Mary Frances Wilkens)

Publishers Weekly February 18, 2002

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 no 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.

Library Journal April 1, 2002

Positive Pushing shares progressive ways to spark achievement. Motivational consultant Taylor, who has worked with the U.S. Tennis Association, emphasizes three pillars: self-esteem, emotional mastery, and ownership. By ownership, Taylor means that kids must choose, or “own” their activities-that way, they are inherently happy and successful. Taylor believes that positive parental pushing is an “absolute moral imperative,” arguing that parents are responsible for helping to bring out the best in each child—and showing them how to do so. This excellent work is highly recommended for parents, counselors, and especially athletic coaches.

Ski Racing magazine review Viki Fleckenstein Woodworth, former U.S. Ski Team member, mother of three

As a parent of a ski racer it’s that time of year again. New season, new “to-buy” list. The usual: faster GS skis, bigger stealth, warmer socks, more wax, files, etc. Dr. Jim Taylor, a former high-level racer himself and now a well-known sport psychologist, has added one more item and possibly the most important one of all. His new book, Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child (Hyperion, 2002) is written for every parent of a ski racer or achieving child. At $23.95 at all major book stores (less from Amazon) it may prove to give you and your ski racer more bang for your buck than great wax or fast GS skis. Plus it can go with your ski racer from J6s right up until they fulfill their Olympic dreams and beyond.

In the glorious yet difficult world of being a ski-racing parent (or coach), Positive Pushing is a must-read. And then the hard part, it’s a must-practice. The reading is exciting and enticing because Dr. Taylor (JT to all in the ski racing world who know him) clearly describes what we’ve all done as parents or seen in others. With seventeen years of experience working with “achieving children” JT is able to share wonderful true stories with happy endings and sad stories of children led astray by well-intended, but misguided parents. He scares us a bit and in the end he challenges us by asking, What road will we choose? Will we parent this way or that way? JT illustrates very clearly how what we do affects our children either positively or negatively and coaches us to the appropriate path.

Positive Pushing is about guiding and pushing our children along the road to adulthood. The pushing applies to every area in which your child is trying to achieve, from school, to the arts, to sports. The ‘positive’ is about how. As you read the book you’ll have in mind the area or areas in which your child is trying to achieve. If one of these areas is ski racing you may see yourself or someone you know on almost every page. Why? Because of the nature of this rugged and wonderful sport we all love. If you are a ski racer or the parent of a ski racer you know too well how it can chew you up and spit you out. You know that the eternally long stretches between wins can’t be blamed on a goalie and that the wrong wax excuse might as well be whispered to yourself. You know about injuries, fog and gusts of wind on the flats and how they seem to occur only for some. You know the FIS points go to the 1/100ths and what it takes to shave those off. What you may not know is that Positive Pushing is a book that may help you and your ski racer come out shining and happy and friends forever with or without the FIS points you always wanted. Or that Positive Pushing might be just what you and your ski racer need to lower those FIS points even if the fog does seem to roll in while he’s in the gate!

The beauty of the book is that Dr. Taylor makes it clear where we go right and where we stray. He tells us in each chapter with his “Red Flags” what indicators we should look for in our children–and in ourselves. Then he tells us how to do it better. It’s not all easy news to take, however. He makes us take a good, hard look at ourselves, and we might not like what we see. If you read between the lines he might very well be suggesting you not go to every race with your child, let alone tune his or her skis.

His ultimate goal for us as parents and coaches, which he states in the beginning and throughout, is ”successful achieving for our children”. He coaches us to believe and to practice toward that goal. As with any good coach, JT constantly helps us keep sight of our big picture goal – successful and happy children. In Part I, JT clarifies how Self-esteem is so misunderstood and explains what it really is. In Part II, he shows how to help and allow our kids to gain Ownership of their ski racing (or other activities). In Part III, he shows us how to help our kids overcome the biggest challenges in achieving and life by developing Emotional Mastery.

If you don’t mind being reminded that “you are the parent” and that “parenting is not a part time job” and if you really feel you can “make changes for the good of your child” then you must move Positive Pushing to the top of your “to-buy” list. Get ready for some great reading and perhaps your happiest and most successful season yet!


“A thought-provoking guide to prepare children to survive and thrive in a complex world.” Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., Co-author of Raising Resilient Children

“[Positive Pushing] is absolutely inspiring! You are going to do so well, I know! Anne Leedom Editor/Publisher, Parenting Bookmark

“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.

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 book.” Thom Rutledge, author of Embracing Fear

“As a father of two (age 12, 9), husband of 20 years (same girl!), and counselor-to-be of children and families, your book meant a great deal to me. Very, very inspiring to me, both as a parent and as a future therapist.” Raymond R. Rubino

“Positive Pushing is what most parents really need. Dr. Taylor’s insights into child rearing and achievement hit home with me. So much of what he writes about are issues that parents have to deal with everyday. His book has changed the way I approach encouraging my children to achieve as athletes, performing artists, students, and people.” Tricia Hellman Gibbs, M.D., Family Physician, former U.S. Ski Team member, mother of five

“Dr. Taylor is to be commended for writing a book that describes clear guidelines for nurturing and reinforcing those skills that will help our children to be happy and successful in life. Parents will find this a valuable resource as they raise children in a very challenging world.” Robert Brooks, Ph.D., Co-author, Raising Resilient Children

“Finally, someone (Dr. Taylor) reminds us that achievement is a ‘no pain, no gain’ endeavor. Contrary to most current approaches to a child’s development, Dr. Taylor advocates that parents should be tough, yet caring, firm, yet flexible, and demanding, yet accepting in helping their children to become successful and happy.” Richard Stratton, Ph.D., Professor and youth sport expert, Virginia Technical University

“Dr. Jim Taylor’s explanation of the why’s and how’s of motivating children to the next level is excellent guidance for all parents. His advice to continually raise the bar and extend the comfort zone has already been critical to our sons’ athletic and artistic experiences. Positive Pushing reminds us of the importance of balancing our children’s achievement and emotional well-being with our own expectations. Dr. Taylor’s handbook of parenting fundamentals and tools is one we will revisit time and again as we travel the ever-challenging parenting road.” Ronna Stone, mother of three, San Francisco

“Dr. Taylor’s ideas are consistent with my own experiences in working with children. His understanding of the development areas that influence children and what parents need to do to raise achieving and happy children is right on target. This book is a must-read for every parent.” Gloria Balague, Ph.D., Professor and child psychologist, University of Illinois, Chicago

“The originality and insight in Dr. Taylor’s book will inspire, guide, and free parents to treasure their children’s rights of personal ownership and empowerment.” Joanne Cunard, Ph.D., Professor, Dept. of Education/Child Study, St. Joseph College, West Hartford, CT

“After thirteen years of coaching at the high school and college levels, and as the father of seven-year-old twin boys (whose YMCA team I now coach), I found Dr. Taylor’s approach to be refreshing and useful. We all need to be reminded of the importance of high expectations in the lives of our children. Indeed, during my time teaching and coaching, it was overwhelmingly clear that we do kids no favor by allowing them to be easy on themselves. Dr. Taylor gives parents permission to (positively) push their children. One of the strengths of Dr. Taylor’s approach is his recommendation that parents explore their own needs and push themselves to do what is best for their children. Dr. Taylor is right to ground the transmission of values to children in the context of day-to-day life and to insist that child rearing is not a part-time job.” Dennis Hartzell, Executive Adviser to the President, University of Maryland, Baltimore, father of two, former teacher and coach

“As a parent, educator, coach, and headmaster, I have been looking for a book that would guide me in helping children become successful and happy. I have finally found that book in Positive Pushing! Everyone associated with raising children should read this book.” Kirk Dwyer, Headmaster, Burke Mountain Academy, East Burke, VT

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What They’re Saying

“I have had the pleasure of hearing Jim Taylor lecture a group of CEO’s and Presidents, of speaking with him one-on-one and of reading several of his works. He provides a unique window into the head, heart and soul of top performers at their field. His perspective is special in that it combines performing at one’s best...”

Seth Waugh
former CEO, Deutsche Banks America