Rebutting Tiger Moms with positive psychology

Jesse Kornbluth’s Head Butler today tackles the Tiger Mom brou-ha-ha (the Yale law prof who says don’t praise your kid publicly, push them to achieve the best in all they do, etc) by citing the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman. In his book The Optimistic Child, Dr. Seligman says failure is an excellent tutor–and that learning optimism is possible.


“Children need to fail,” Seligman bluntly says. We’ve got to fall off the bike before we learn to ride it. Only then does that first solo trip to the end of the block mean anything.

How do we help our kids confront the challenges of life? By being realistic about their failures and appropriate about their successes — by helping them build the inner strength to reach courageously, fail nobly and try, try again.

That seems straightforward enough. But it isn’t, Professor Seligman contends, because we’re living in a sick culture that sends so many messages to make us pessimistic that we don’t even notice them for what they are.”


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