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on February 4, 2010
Thanks to Christine Carter for giving us parents an actual step by step approach to engendering happiness in our childrens' and our own lives. I've enjoyed her blog at Half Full for sometime, but this is an excellent synopsis of her work.
If you read nothing but Step 3 "Praising Effort and Enjoyment" your childrens' lives will be forever changed.
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on March 23, 2010
To lump this book in with the myriad other books on parenting would be doing both the book and the reader a disservice. Raising Happiness goes beyond 'parenting' - it's truly a book on how to create a happiness lifestyle, and in turn raise happy kids. I enjoy Dr. Carter's anecdotes, but also appreciate that all her happiness advice is rooted in scientific study; both social and medical. This is the book that I will not only reread (and enjoy each time) but will keep on my bedside table and refer to time and time again when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and potentially down. Thank you for this book, for your insights, and for the happiness guidance. I have been implementing suggestion after suggestion, and to my delight, my children are flourishing and I'm a happier mom because of it! I will be recommending this to friends, giving this book for baby showers, and sharing the insights with my husband. And reading it again. And then probably again. And perhaps one more time for good luck!
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on May 8, 2014
This was not a parenting book. This was a self-care book. There was almost no information on how to be a good parent. Yes, I know that she’s saying that taking more care of yourself will help you to be a happier parent, but then she should have called her book, “How Parents Can Take Better Care of Themselves.” When my kid is kicking in the midst of a temper tantrum, nothing in this book will be of any help. Any tips she did have were overly basic and vague. For example, when she talked about sibling fights, she wrote “Calm you kids down.” Really? Did she think that we needed a book to tell us to calm our kids down in the middle of a fight? Also, her book mainly consisted of examples of how she did things wrong, with comments about why not to do it that way, but without a follow up with examples on what to do. Although she sometimes said what to do, she rarely gave any information on how to do it. Plus, she was so self-deprecating throughout the book that it actually was a distraction. She should know that if you’re going to write a book, you don’t have to spend half of it negating your knowledge on the topic in order to feign humility. Drop the “I don’t know anything” act. Instead, be confident. If you don’t believe in yourself, your readers won’t believe you either.

You do not need to buy this book, because here is the summary of her very basic points:
1) Go out with your friends and to yoga class more
2) Get along with your co-parent
3) Be grateful
4) Forgive others
5) Be optimistic
6) Don’t threaten or bribe
7) Teach your kids to regulate their emotions (though she gives few examples on how to do so)
8) Be mindful

Her final points are: day care is bad, TV is bad, play is good, and eat dinner with your kids. Overall, this self-care book was most unhelpful for parents who are looking for solid techniques on how to interact more calmly and positively with their children.
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on March 4, 2010
This book is an excellent source of tips and techniques you can begin to implement TODAY that will change the overall feeling in your house immediately. Christine carter has translated literally hundreds of social science articles into practical steps you can take to help your child grow, learn, and feel happy and fulfilled. Need to get out the door on school mornings? She has a plan. Want your child to be happy with what they have rather than asking you to buy something else? She has strategies. This book helps everyone in the family be more attentive to what we already have, the joy of our relationships, and ways we can help each other. Not just a "parenting" book. It is a family-building book. You will benefit as much as your children.
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on November 23, 2010
The front flap promises much, such as how to avoid raising a brat, changing good habits into bad ones, the right and wrong way to praise your children, how to turn their attitude into gratitude, how to avoid the pitfalls of perfectionism, and how teach them to be more self-motivated. But how many of these things do I predict I'll be able to change with my two recently inherited-through-marriage kids (10 and 11)? Not many. The most effective ones will be the ones I can institute myself: Eating Dinner Together; praising them properly. But as the author says on the final page, "finding even one thing here that works for your family . . . can increase your children's happiness, and yours as well."

Overall, I feel disappointed by the book because it promised so much. Part of that, I think, is that the author covers so much, she has little space to devote to HOW to achieve something. For a while as I read I was flipping back and forth to the "Notes" in the back of the book. Nearly every sentence or two the author writes is sourced to some study. This sounds good in theory, but what happens is that she can't do justice to any one idea in depth. So I'm going through the book and nothing is sticking in my brain and then when I come to the chapter that talks about Learned Optimism I think I realize why. I read Learned Optimism a long time ago and it had a big impact on me. Because the author covers so much in her book, though, she has little time to devote to any particular topic, and so does a poor job of describing Learned Optimism. Perhaps the reason nothing seemed to be "sticking" in my brain for the earlier chapters is that she is condensing them too much too. Another area with the same problem was her section on mindfulness. It felt like we were getting the crib notes of an "A" student who took a seminar and passed their notes to us, rather than someone who has actually EXPERIENCED the feeling of mindfulness from the inside and can get us to FEEL how to do it. The author seems to be practicing all the things she preaches from the outside, rather than from the inside, and sporadically at that. She often reveals her mistakes, which seem to be frequent, as if nothing is internalized. Her life seems just too danged busy to have a calm environment at home.

On the positive side, I take a few things from this book:

- Put on your own oxygen mask first (Chapter 1): If you're unhappy, it's unlikely that you'll be creating the best environment for your kids, so make sure your needs are met first. (Watch out, though, because some parents could use this almost as an excuse for near neglect.)

- Expect Effort and Enjoyment, Not Perfection (Chapter 2): This is an idea I'm already aware of, but it's nice to be reminded of it. She talks about how kids who are praised in the wrong way (for their successes rather than their effort and their enjoyment) or are labeled, even in a positive way ("you're smart"), can end up actually AVOIDING the very things we want them to spend time at because the wrong type of praise can lead to perfectionism and the fear of failure: once they have that label of "smart," they don't want to lose it.

- Eat Dinner Together (Chapter 10). I've been talking about this in my family for a long time so now I'm finally implementing it. It is the easiest for me and seems to have the most wide-ranging benefits.

- Rig Their Environment for Happiness (Chapter 9). She shows the results of studies comparing different kinds of childcare. She also talks about how kids shouldn't be exposed to TV until they're two years old because they will learn so much more with direct parental interaction that that time is wasted sitting in front of the TV. Even the Baby Einstein videos are not as effective as direct parental interaction. As a person with a new baby on the way, I'm glad I read this before it was too late!

I don't think certain discussions will be of much help to me in my situation.

The suggestion I think would work best to instill gratitude would be to have the kids volunteer at a soup kitchen or something like that. But how likely am I to do this with my whiny and resistant kids?

I also didn't buy much into having a family "feelings" list.

There's some good stuff in this book, just don't expect it to lead to the familial bliss that its front flap promises. And, if nothing else, you can always look up all the studies referenced in the back of the book.
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on March 4, 2010
I really love this book. Its simplicity, optimism, and compassion for both parents and kids resonate with me as a parent and as a psychologist who works with families. I appreciate that nearly every one of Carter's happiness building skills can be initiated right now... making it a great book for new parents as well as for parents negotiating the teen years. In Carter's world, and supported by solid research, it's never too late to create new habits to build family happiness. I keep many copies of this book in my office and have found myself giving it to nearly every family with whom I work.
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on October 4, 2010
We all want the best for our kids. We want our children to be successful, get good grades and have impeccable manners. On top of these goals we also want our children to have a happy life. How is this all possible? Dr. Christine Carter gives step-by-step advice on emotion-coaching your child. She does this in her book Raising Happiness. She focuses on these 10 items:

* Put on your own oxygen mask first
* Build a village
* Expect effort, not perfection
* Chose gratitude, forgiveness, and optimism
* Raise their emotional intelligence
* Form happiness habits
* Teach self-discipline
* Enjoy the present moment
* Rig their environment for happiness
* Eat dinner together

All of this can be practiced during a 9-minute meal! The chapter that gave me that "aha moment" was Chapter 10: Eat Dinner Together. Dr. Carter expresses that the benefits of family mealtime are remarkable. Having dinner as a family is the most important piece of science-based advice that she gives in her book. Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis are more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They get better grades and they also have fewer depressive symptoms. Family dinner trumps reading to your kids in preparing them for school!

Why is family dinnertime so important? Well for starters many social skills are learned at the dinner table. Research shows a strong connection between language development and dinnertime, and language is THE most important aspect of social intelligence that we have.

Each of the ten steps that Dr. Carter presents in her book provides some resources for additional information on each of the steps if you find yourself wanting to learn more. I highly recommend this book - especially chapter ten.
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on March 9, 2010
raising HAPPINESS by Christine Carter, Ph.D. is a must read for everyone (not just parents). Even though the book provides 10 simple steps for more joyful kids and happier parents, these 10 simple steps are actually steps toward more joyful living. During each chapter, by applying Dr. Carter's easy to implement steps to the reader's household and workplace, one can achieve greater happiness.

This book reminds us that good parenting is necessary for the children of our future. The front cover of the book of a young girl running on her own self-power - flying a rainbow kite outdoors under a beautiful blue sky with clouds, symbolizes the importance of the message of this book - we, as a community, need to raise happiness and elevate the importance of playtime. We do not need to focus on perfection - just to work on expecting effort and enjoyment. Throughout the book, Dr. Carter identifies scientific studies to compliment her teaching, and infuses the book with humor, insightfulness, meditation techniques and downright common sense. It was a pleasure to read this book, and put the teachings into practice.

Please read this book today, and make the world a better place by raising happiness all around you. Thank you.
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on April 3, 2012
A beautifully written, easy to read, and engaging parenting book that is based on the latest research into child development and happiness. This is the one parenting book that will be read and re-read, with notes along the margins, at our home. Loved it!

Dr. Christine Carter gives step-by-step advice on the best evidence-based techniques for positive parenting that fosters happiness in children. She addresses each of these topics:

* Put on your own oxygen mask first
* Build a village
* Expect effort, not perfection
* Chose gratitude, forgiveness, and optimism
* Raise their emotional intelligence
* Form happiness habits
* Teach self-discipline
* Enjoy the present moment
* Rig their environment for happiness
* Eat dinner together

I highly recommend this book, and love that Dr. Carter isn't shy about discussing her own parenting experiences and daily challenges as a single mom. Fantastic read!
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on April 25, 2011
I am disappointed in many parenting books because they give you general guidelines on how to become a better parent but not many specific ideas on how to implement these guidelines. In contrast, this book is a great guide that not only outlines ideas (based on solid research) on how you can make your children (and yourself) happier but also gives specific suggestions outlining how to improve your interactions with your both your children and your "other-parent." I would highly recommend this book to all parents.
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