Dr. Shimi Kang Shares A Motivation Prescription

Downtime, social connection and play: Dr. Shimi Kang prescribes these three things to help people stay motivated during stressful times.

Dr. Kang, an award-winning, Harvard-trained medical doctor, used science and storytelling to share the neuroscience behind this “prescription” in a Zoom presentation on February 17, 2021. The hour-long interactive talk, titled Optimizing Wellness, Innovation & Self-Motivation In Our New Normal, was presented by Crescent School and the Crescent Parent Association. It was attended by over 120 Crescent parents, alumni and staff.

Noting that the prescription is “simple, but not easy,” Kang encouraged parents to remind their children that habits that are beneficial to our wellbeing are things that we do when we feel at ease – or, as she put it, “anything you wouldn’t do if you were being chased by a tiger.” For example, deep breathing, engaging with nature, mindfulness exercises and connecting with friends are habits that reduce stress.

“When we teach children self-care skills, their focus improves, their attention improves, their motivation improves,” said Kang.

Five qualities – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and contribution – “are the skills for self-motivation in the 21st century,” Kang said. Downtime, social connection and play are innate in every child and are essential to developing these five qualities, she said.
Kang also addressed the question of healthy technology habits for children. “We have to go beyond screen time” as the metric for monitoring tech use, she said, recommending a “tech diet” approach to teach children how to use technology wisely. For example, she said, one hour of Instagram use can be toxic if you are comparing your life to others, or like junk food if you are mindlessly scrolling, or healthy if you are using it for self-care, motivational quotes, building community or innovating. The tech diet approach is “a game-changer in our understanding of our relationship with technology,” Kang said.

Kang is the author of The Self-Motivated Kid and The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids. Her new book, The Tech Solution, provides neuroscience-based strategies to optimize technology’s benefits while minimizing its drawbacks.

Read the executive summary of Dr. Shimi Kang’s presentation.

Learn more about Health & Wellbeing at Crescent School.