The Secret to Raising Self-Driven Kids

7 tips for helping children take control of their lives


Published:

Photo courtesy of Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock.com

The idea of an independent, confident teenager is quintessentially American. But somewhere between the self-esteem movement of the 1990s and society’s apparent obsession with perfection, there’s a school of thought out there that today’s kids have gotten off track.

The pressure to be perfect is inescapable. Kids absorb it from well-meaning parents, peers at school and social media. As a result, rising numbers of young people suffer from self-doubt and anxiety.

The antidote? According to neuropsychologist William Stixrud and self-proclaimed test-prep geek Ned Johnson, the key to overcoming anxiety and becoming a confident adult is control. Stixrud, who has spent 30 years helping teens with learning and anxiety disorders, teamed up with Johnson, who has spent 30 years calming overachieving teens, to write “Raising the Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives” (Penguin, 2018).

Whether you have a toddler or teenager, there are steps you can take to help your child take control of his or her life and move toward that confident, self-motivated American ideal.


Be a Consultant

What kind of parent are you? If you are a “Tiger Mom” who pushes your child to hit tennis balls six hours a day and practice piano for six hours a night, it’s unlikely your child has much opportunity to be in control of his or her life. On the other extreme, if you are a permissive parent, it’s unlikely your child has a chance to develop the sense of discipline he or she needs to be independent and self-motivated.

There is, Stixrud suggests, a parenting “sweet spot” — somewhere between authoritarian and laissez-faire, where a child is given just the right amount of independence and just the right amount of guidance.

“Be a consultant, not a director,” he recommends. A “consultant” parent provides basic rules and structure, and as much advice as needed, but does not insist on definite goals.

Consider also your definition of “success.” If you immediately picture your child as a wealthy banker in New York, that’s fine. But keep it to yourself. Your child is already facing a world in which success is narrowly defined, Stixrud says.

“Kids believe that if they don’t have straight A’s they won’t get into an elite college, and that if they don’t go to an elite college, they are going to have a C+ life,” Stixrud says. He laments that low-achieving kids often give up before they start, and high-achieving kids lose sleep over an A-. Make sure you’re helping your child see the broader possibilities rather than further limiting the field.


Avoid Comparisons

Every child is different and will require responsive adjustments in parenting style. Avoid comparing your child to his peers — or even siblings. An older sister might thrive playing club soccer and easily get straight A’s, while her younger brother might need quiet afternoons perched in his treehouse and earn mostly B’s. Stixrud points out that there is a low correlation between high school grades and later success.

Instead of casting about for ideals in the media, or imposing your own expectations, take a close look at your child. Encourage her interests. Pursuing a passion — whether for modern dance or rock collecting — allows a child to experience the satisfaction of working hard at something she enjoys.

Remember that your child will change as he matures. “We see kids who are a disaster of motivation, but as their prefrontal cortex develops, they come out of it,” Johnson says. “A child might be killing it at age 10, but might not be at the head of the pack at age 30. Prodigies don’t typically end up being musicians. And kids who are a mess now, are not necessarily a mess forever.”


Address Anxiety

A certain amount of stress can be good, Johnson says. He and Stixrud call this “optimal” stress, and explain that stress and competition actually increase motivation and productivity, up to a point. “Past that point,” Johnson says, “the fear of totally blowing it outweighs the motivation to excel.”

If anxiety is affecting you or your child’s daily life, address it. “Stress is contagious,” Johnson says. “It can affect the whole family.”

You can normalize stress by bringing it up at the dinner table.

“Talking about a situation you are dealing with is a great way to introduce coping mechanisms,” suggests Abby Pressel, a licensed psychologist with Chapel Hill Pediatric Psychology. “You can mention practical ways you manage anxiety, such as focusing on relaxing your muscles and regulating your breathing.”

When your child is worried about a specific problem, listen and acknowledge her concerns. At the same time, gently challenge her assumptions. “Often, anxiety can be irrational,” Pressel says. “Try to put data behind the fear.”

David Graham, a counselor at Davidson College, says students who successfully navigate the stresses of college are those who have outlets for stress, like a sports team, exercise class, favorite club or religious group. Help your child find some activity that allows him to relax.


Let Your Child Take Ownership

“Autonomy research is dramatic,” Johnson says. “There have been studies in retirement homes that show if you give people choices, they live longer.”

He points out that today’s kids have very little autonomy, spending most of their day at school where they have to raise their hand to speak or go to the bathroom. Afternoons and weekends tend to be overscheduled, leaving kids little opportunity for creative play, getting bored or having to figure out how to spend their day. Then, suddenly, in college they are free to do anything they want, Johnson points out. Before they go, help them feel internally motivated and confident enough to make decisions and advocate for themselves.

Lucy Dunning, a licensed professional counselor at Thriveworks in Charlotte, suggests letting your child practice choice-making. “Kids are conditioned to wait and be directed,” she says. “You can boost your child’s confidence — even very young children — by letting them make choices, whether that is deciding on dinner or on what clothes to wear.”

To keep things within the realm of reason, you can offer children a choice among a few safe options, she suggests.

Eric Lipp, a Duke Cancer Institute senior clinical research coordinator whose seventh-grade daughter recently kickstarted a recycling program at her school, swears by the value of chores. Committed to raising self-sufficient and confident children, he and his wife Sharon, a psychiatric nurse, required their two girls to take on responsibility for household tasks before they could read.

“We made them a chart with pictures,” Lipp says. “Brushing teeth, getting dressed, tying shoes, putting away toys. They would put a check beside each picture once they’d finished.”

Stixrud and Johnson point out that while the decision-making part of the brain does not fully mature until a person’s mid-20s, this does not mean young people are bad at making decisions.


Give Your Child Space to Fail

As a parent, watching your child fail can be excruciating. It’s tempting to “fix” things — to talk a teacher out of a low grade, beg a coach for a spot on the soccer team or step in to repair damaged friendships. But your child will struggle in the adult world if she never experiences failure growing up. Part of giving your child the freedom to choose is allowing her the freedom to make the wrong choice, i.e., the freedom to fail.

Graham says a large number of Davidson College students — about 45 percent — visit the school’s heath center for counseling, and that many of them have anxiety issues. “These are high-achieving students, most of whom have always excelled at academics,” he says. “For them, getting a B for the first time can be devastating. They have never had to build up the resiliency.”

Graham advises parents of middle- and high-schoolers to revisit their toddler-parenting strategies. “When your baby is learning to walk, and she falls, you encourage her to get back up. And she does. She gets back up and she walks,” he says.

Introduce your child to role models who have struggled to achieve. Thomas Edison, who failed thousands of times before making a successful lightbulb, is famously quoted as saying, “I’ve not failed, I successfully found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

In addition to external role models, be a model yourself. Teach self-encouragement by embracing your mistakes and sharing your strategies for overcoming them.

Praise effort, not result. “It is helpful to frame experiences in terms of learning and growth rather than on an outcome or a grade,” Pressel says. “Being comfortable with imperfection makes you more confident, and more likely to try new experiences.”


Provide Structure

Dunning believes kids need rules to thrive, but that parents should be authoritative rather than authoritarian.

Parents should be providing kids with a framework for behavior,” she says. “And then, as kids get older, parents should gradually back away.” She says children understand consequences, so parents can define behavior in terms of choice. “If your child chooses to miss curfew, then they have chosen to stay at home the following night,” she says.

Technology and social media are a wild west for rules and structure. Stixrud recommends family-wide policies.

“It’s easy enough to place limits on video games when a child is young, but much harder as they get older,” he says. “Make a family rule that everyone will charge phones in the kitchen at night. Parents included.” It is vital to follow the rules yourself.


Allow for 'Radical Downtime'

Graham says many of the freshmen he counsels at Davidson College are troubled by the 24/7 nature of college.

“It’s hard to find a safe place on campus with no onlookers,” he says. “There is nowhere to let down your guard.” As long as students feel they are “flying under the radar” they are OK, but if they get attention, “it’s like being under a microscope,” he says.

For a high-schooler, home should be that safe place college students are missing. Many of the parents Stixrud has talked to say that evenings with their teens can be like World War III, consisting of constant battles over homework. He suggests that instead of pestering your child about getting his homework done, simply let him know you are there to help. “Tell them you love them too much to fight about homework,” he says. “The fighting makes them less motivated to do the work, and is stressful to you as well.”

To escape what Johnson calls the “mind-numbing effects” of social media, he and Stixrud recommend excluding technology during downtime at home, and have introduced the concept of “radical downtime,” which includes doing nothing at all and allows a child to daydream, meditate, sleep and relax.

“Have Sunday mornings just be for pancakes,” Johnson says.


Caitlin Wheeler is a freelance writer in Durham.

 

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Calendar

November 2019

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

During harvest time, farmers often helped their neighbors to get hard work done during communal gatherings such as corn shucking. Learn about this fall tradition and make a corn husk doll to take...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675

More information

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Experience some of the best trail running the Piedmont has to offer in this unique trail marathon and 10 miler across Durham County, North Carolina. The course winds along the scenic Eno River...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
5253 Roxboro Rd
Durham, NC  27712
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Website »

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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

More information

Hike along Bolin Creek Greenway to the Adams Tract Red Trail to learn about the trees and wildlife in Carrboro.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilson Park Shelter
101 Williams St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Learn about mammals of the Piedmont through skulls and pelts, and what bones reveal about animals.  This is a hands-on family friendly presentation by Patricia Thomas-Laemont with Elon...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bynum Front Porch
950 Bynum Rd
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area
Website »

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November is a time to be thankful! Celebrate the natural world and where our favorite Thanksgiving foods come from. Investigate corn under microscopes and hand lenses, learn the difference between...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850

More information

Join in the fight against kidney disease by taking part in a 3.5-mile walk at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. All ages. Strollers are welcome; however, bicycles and in-line skates are not...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

More information

Fall Family Cookie Decorating. Enjoy a family outing…. Come learn a variety of cookie recipes suited for decorating. Then practice piping and flooding sugar cookies for the perfect look....

Cost: $5.00

Where:
The Studio School of Durham
1201 W Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Sponsor: The Studio School of Durham
Telephone: 984-377-4502
Contact Name: Danielle Sunde
Website »

More information

Search for salamanders, owls and more. Equipment provided. Ages 10-13. Register online. Choose course #128019.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

See horses compete and enjoy food trucks, children's activities and more. Admission is free; Saturday evening Grand Prix tickets are $10/person. Proceeds benefit Duke Children's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Red, yellow, orange, and brown – leaves come in all different sizes and colors. Practice your color and shape recognition through centers, songs, and stories. For ages 18 months to 3 years (adult...

Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

See horses compete and enjoy food trucks, children's activities and more. Admission is free; Saturday evening Grand Prix tickets are $10/person. Proceeds benefit Duke Children's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127196.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko will delight fans of all ages with live performances featuring world-class production, toe-tapping tunes and a whole lot of super fun as they go into...

Cost: $28.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

We’ll enjoy poetry written in honor of the many holidays that occur around this time of the year. Following questions and discussion, those attending will have the opportunity to share by reading...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Join us in the Kidzu Front Yard Garden for a special off-season Junior Gardeners in honor of Chapel Hill Arbor Week. Get hands on and explore trees, and all the things they provide including...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »

More information

Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Register online.  Chose course #127203.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

The word philanthropy means love of mankind. From the earliest days, human civilization has depended upon kindness directed towards strangers. Explore the history of giving, then help to cut out...

Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675

More information

Join us to learn about 4H and then enjoy fall activities and crafts!  No registration is required. Grades 3-5

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Join Cary Lifestyle Magazine for a wonderful night of charity, fashion, decadent food and drinks and shopping. Proceeds go to Saving Grace NC,non-profit animal rescue, that since its inception in...

Cost: $75.00

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn
131 Columbus Ave
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina LifeStyle Magazine
Website »

More information

Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. $2 for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 11 and older with special needs help support the Town of Cary's annual toy drive by donating an unwrapped toy for a child in need. Make cards for the holiday cards for these...

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Transformative stories through the mists of time adapted from "1001 Arabian Nights" and performed by Emerson's 10th grade class.  Recommended for audiences age 10 and up. For...

Cost: $5-$12

Where:
Emerson Waldorf School
6211 New Jericho Road
Brown Wing
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Website »

More information

It’s the summer before the 1904 World’s Fair and the three Smith sisters are filled with anticipation. But the year brings turmoil as family life interferes with their newfound chances...

Cost: Adults: $15 Seniors: $10 Students and children: $5 Family 4-pack

Where:
William Peace University, Kenan Auditorium
15 E Peace St
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: William Peace University
Contact Name: Charles Machalicky
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Celebrate collards at the State Farmers Market.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Come share the excitement as Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in The District. Kids of all ages will enjoy our Magical Winter Lights Paintscaping, featuring colorful holiday lights...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Park West Village
Contact Name: Conner
Website »

More information

Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Deck the halls at Waverly Place and welcome the holiday season with their Eighth Annual Tree Lighting Celebration! The festivities kick off on Friday, November 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waverly Place Shopping Center
302 Colonades Way
Cary, NC  27518
View map »

More information

Transformative stories through the mists of time adapted from "1001 Arabian Nights" and performed by Emerson's 10th grade class.  Recommended for audiences age 10 and up. For...

Cost: $5-$12

Where:
Emerson Waldorf School
6211 New Jericho Road
Brown Wing
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Website »

More information

The Triangle Youth String Orchestra and Youth String Sinfonia present a joint concert of their fall repertoire. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

It’s the summer before the 1904 World’s Fair and the three Smith sisters are filled with anticipation. But the year brings turmoil as family life interferes with their newfound chances...

Cost: Adults: $15 Seniors: $10 Students and children: $5 Family 4-pack

Where:
William Peace University, Kenan Auditorium
15 E Peace St
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: William Peace University
Contact Name: Charles Machalicky
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

Ages 5 and older move through yoga poses and show gratitude by writing a thank-you note for someone special. Registration required online. Choose course #127447. 

Cost: $19/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about the state’s American Indian culture from musicians, dancers, craftspeople and storytellers from eight state-recognized tribes. Over 100 presenters will fill the museum and...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join dozens of ethnic communities at the Global Holiday Festival and Market to celebrate and honor holidays and traditions from around the world.  Sample traditional dishes, view free dance...

Cost: Free

Where:
Moore Square, Downtown Raleigh
Raleigh, NC


Website »

More information

Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. Show times are at noon and 5 p.m. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 & 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. Show times are at noon and 5 p.m. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Come share the excitement as Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in The District. Kids of all ages will enjoy our Magical Winter Lights Paintscaping, featuring colorful holiday lights...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Park West Village
Contact Name: Conner
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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Transformative stories through the mists of time adapted from "1001 Arabian Nights" and performed by Emerson's 10th grade class.  Recommended for audiences age 10 and up. For...

Cost: $5-$12

Where:
Emerson Waldorf School
6211 New Jericho Road
Brown Wing
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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It’s the summer before the 1904 World’s Fair and the three Smith sisters are filled with anticipation. But the year brings turmoil as family life interferes with their newfound chances...

Cost: Adults: $15 Seniors: $10 Students and children: $5 Family 4-pack

Where:
William Peace University, Kenan Auditorium
15 E Peace St
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: William Peace University
Contact Name: Charles Machalicky
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.