A Much Better Way To Motivate

As we said recently, it is true that by withholding praise or pride, ​you may succeed in creating a driven kid​. It’s just that they’ll be driven to get one thing and one thing only—and they won’t care where or how they get it.

You’ll be creating a motivated machine. You’re not making them strong, in fact, they’ll be incredibly vulnerable. That can’t be what you want.

It’s important that we look for examples of people who have done great things as a result of their parent’s ability to believe in them, support them, and make them feel secure. We’ve talked about Jim Valvano many times here and tell the story in Daily Dad about how his dad ​packed his bags​ and told his son ​he was ready to watch him coach​ in the Final Four. ​We posted a great video of the comedian Andrew Schultz recently​. Andrew told his father that his dream was to perform at Madison Square Gardens someday. Everyone else laughed or dismissed it. His father just looked at him and said, “I can see it.”

Again, hunger is a powerful motivator. A craving for the approval of a withdrawn parent, a hard to please parent—this can instill in a person an intensity, an unstoppableness, a desire to achieve. But you know what else can make for a great champion? A strong sense of a self. A support network. The belief that they have what it takes. A sense of what’s possible, an understanding that however long it takes, however it goes, no matter how many attempts, that their value as a person hasn’t changed and that eventually, inevitably, they’re going to do something great…because they are great.


We think this idea—that you have to be your kids’ biggest supporter—is so important that in The Daily Dad book, the entire month of August is on the theme. The month of August in The Daily Dad: 366 Meditations on Parenting, Love, and Raising Great Kids is titled, “Always Be A Fan”—it is, as we’ve said, the greatest gift you can give your kids.

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