Oct 19, 2023

When The Need to Achieve Becomes Toxic with Jennifer B. Wallace

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Achievement, Children, Confidence, Mental Health, Parenting, Teens, Toxic Achievement Culture


I’m jamming today with Jennifer B. Wallace, an acclaimed journalist and bestselling author of “Never Enough: When Achievement Pressure Becomes Toxic.” Jennifer, a mother of three, was struck by the toxic pressure surrounding high-achievement schools. Concerned about the impact on her own children, she embarked on a journey to understand and mitigate this achievement culture’s harmful effects, resulting in her book, “Never Enough: When Achievement Cultures Become Toxic and What We Can Do About It.” 

In this episode, we talk about toxic achievement culture and what parents can do to make their children feel seen, heard, and loved without that being contingent on their achievements.


  • How parenting has evolved over the past few decades
  • What we can do to help our children become mentally strong 
  • How a sense of “mattering” can protect against burnout for parents and children 
  • How increased pressure and the need to succeed create a toxic environment for our children

00:00 Intro 

00:27 The high expectations of modern parenting

04:51 Value of a college education in today’s job market

06:32 Teaching kids that they matter

10:03 Empowering kids with intrinsic motivation

16:07 How toxic achievement culture is impacting children today

22:51 From people-pleasing to self-valuing

31:14 Parenting with value

35:46 Repairing and shifting in parenting

40:55 Teach your kids to ‘never worry alone’

45:18 Be interested in your child’s online world

50:22 Encouraging kids to celebrate other’s achievements