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The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy [Kindle Edition]

Edward M. Hallowell Md
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $11.76
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Here, at last, is a book brimming with the good news of raising children—the basic reassuring news about happiness and unconditional love, about enduring family connections and kids who grow up right. Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., father of three and a clinical psychiatrist, has thought long and hard about what makes children feel good about themselves and the world they live in. Now, in The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, Dr. Hallowell shares his findings with all of us who care about children.

As Dr. Hallowell argues, we don’t need statistical studies or complicated expert opinions to raise children. What we do need is love, wonder, and the confidence to trust our instincts. This inspiring book outlines a 5-step plan that all parents can use in giving their children the gift of happiness that will last a lifetime. Connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition: as fundamental as these five concepts are, they hold the key to raising children with healthy self-esteem, moral awareness, and spiritual values. Dr. Hallowell explores each step in depth and shows how they work together to foster trust, respect, and joy.

Privilege, wealth, and expensive “extras” are not necessary for happiness—there are many stories here of children who have overcome poverty, abandonment, and shocking deprivation to find true fulfillment. Dr. Hallowell encourages us as parents to reconnect with the moments in our own childhoods that made a difference; he explores the impact of genetics and environmental factors on the inner workings of a child’s mind; and he discusses how activities like team sports, community service, religious observance, and household chores can foster a child’s sense of mastery.

Like the works of T. Berry Brazelton and Benjamin Spock, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness is infused with the wisdom and humanity of a doctor who truly loves and understands children. Writing with the warmth of a friend and the authority of an expert, Dr. Hallowell gives us a book at once practical and exuberant, joyous and informative, eye-opening and reassuring. Ultimately, this book is a celebration of childhood and of the magic that happens between parents and the children they love.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hallowell (Driven to Distraction) provides a refreshing look at what children really need in order to grow up to be happy adults. Hallowell argues that kids do not need straight As, a crammed schedule of extracurricular activities or even a traditional family in order to become contented adults. What children really need, according to the author, are unconditional love from someone (not necessarily a parent) and the opportunity to revel in the magic and play of childhood. Kids do not need perfect lives, and learn from adversity and failure, but for the best chance of future happiness, Hallowell says, they need five basic tenets: to feel connected, to play, to practice, attain mastery and receive recognition. It's easy to get caught up in the "great riptide that sucks kids out of childhood and into an achievement fast lane as early as nursery school," Hallowell warns. Instead, he says, parents should focus on social/emotional health and happiness, creating an environment in which kids are free to "develop the muscles of confidence, optimism and hope." Drawing upon the research of optimist expert Martin Seligman, happiness researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others, the author offers a solid case for establishing joyful childhood roots that form the basis of adult contentment. Though occasionally overly sentimental, Hallowell's heartfelt message is essential for our fast-paced, electronic age, reminding parents and children alike to slow down, enjoy life and learn to play well. (Oct.) Forecast: The publisher plans a solid media package, including an 8-city author tour, but Hallowell's name alone will boost sales.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hallowell (Harvard Medical Sch.) here aims to help parents give children the tools needed to achieve happiness. Though he provides useful, up-to-date information backed by quotes from many books and research studies, readers may resist his socioeconomic assumptions. Hallowell speaks as if everyone has attended an Ivy League school, for example. In addition, the vignettes used to illustrate various points often involve Hallowell's family, and it gets tiresome to read how terrific his children are. The absence of a bibliography is a further stumbling block. A much more accessible and easy-to-read book about raising happy children is Steve Biddulph's The Secret of Happy Children. Still, Hallowell's book may be requested because of his reputation and his previous publications, which include the popular Driven to Distraction, which addressed attention deficit disorder. Purchase this new book only where demand warrants. Alice Hershiser, Reedville, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 493 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345442326
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1H9G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,251 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for Anyone with Children May 22, 2003
This is an excellent book, which shows that in childhood you plant the seeds for adult happiness. It gives concrete suggestions about what to do for your children in order to improve their odds of becoming happy adults.
A few things struck me in particular: the idea of flow, that we are happiest when we are in activities that we get so wrapped up in that we forget ourselves, the concept that children need to learn how to fail, and how to cope with failure, that being bored is an opportunity, you needn't fill up every minute of your child's time, or orchestrate their play.
I'd recommend it to anyone with children, or anyone, such as teachers, that deal with children. Even an unhappy adult, might find out that they have the seeds of happiness within them, they just need some care to make them grow.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
There are a lot of things American parents think they need for their child to grow up to be a happy adult:

. An elite education.
. An endless number of enriching, exciting experiences.
. A personal space outfitted with the latest....clothes, technology, furnishings.
. A continual flow of positive reinforcement.

In fact, we are all striving to give our kids everything we felt we didn't have...but in the process, as this book so eloquently elaborates, we aren't giving them many of the things we had naturally in our childhoods which we never valued.

. A feeling a it extended family, organized religion, or ethnic identification. Being connected to others in a positive way is one of the elements which has fallened by the wayside of 21st century life.

. Mastery of something "real"...not mastery of a video game but the process of genuine mastery of it gardening, soccer, reading, cleaning out the garage...the whole process of finding something daunting, chosing to practice despite obstacles..and finally that feeling of "flow" when a sense of mastery is achieved.

. Flow. Free time, free thought, free truly being in a moment.

As adult we find ourselves striving for a sense of completion through spending more, consuming more, doing more....and we try to create happy adults by giving our child the same...more stuff, more "help", more dislocation.

A lot of this book is asking us to slow down, appreciate the now with our kids, let them fail and be there to encourage them, but not to "fix it" for them.

Particularly for parents who feel that their kids can never pack their Harvard applications too soon, this book is a declaration of independence from that thinking.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book! May 7, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read this book three times. I go back to it every once in a while to stay on track with what is truly important for my kids. I watched my nine year pitch in a baseball game for the first time this week. As he struggled, walking in three batters I thought of this book and reminded myself that failing is not only OK but is vital. An hour later as he stood up to the plate with two outs and down by one run, 11 to 10, he dug down deep into his determination and hit a ball to the fence for a double, driving in two runs and winning the game. All the words in the world I could have used would never have been as effective as living that lesson of failing and getting back up again to keep giving your best. Hallowell really nails it with this book. Just love your kid, let them fail, make sure they have unstructured play as much as possible and praise them when they truly deserve it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book September 22, 2008
By Nancy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm sad to see that this book is only available from special sellers now. This is one of the best parenting books I've read. It provides a lot of practical, helpful information about the importance of connection/secure attachment for creating happy children who have the emotional foundation to become happy adults. I wish more parents would read this!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness October 3, 2002
"The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" is the only parenting book you'll ever need! In his usual heartwarming and uplifting style, Dr. Ned gives parents, teachers, counselors and anyone who works with kids THE five step formula for creating lifelong happiness. As a lover of biographies, I must admit, that the true adult success stories have as their foundation Dr. Ned's five key elements!! While reading this inspiring book you can't help but look back at your own childhood and smile at the things that went right and understand better why things went wrong. Furthermore, it helps one better understand the unhappy adults we interact with from time to time. Another striking impression that "Roots" delivers is that it's never too late to begin cultivating pieces of the formula one might have missed along the way. If you want to cultivate successful adults, I highly recommend this highly informative and provocative book, beautifully written by one of the leading experts in psychiatry today!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book October 21, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book because like most parents I want my children to be happy. The author was very likeable and I liked how he told stories about his own kids in relation to the points he was trying to make. The author is a Dr. and used scientific research as the basis for his suggestions, but did not cite medical mumbo jumbo in the book. It is written in an easy to understand, conversational style. I found some practical advice in this book such as how connectedness at home and school are so important to kid's happiness. Also just helpful, useful advice on helping you to raise your kid's to their best. I am glad that I read this book and I would recommend it to others.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really great insights.
wish I would have read this before having my own children. They are now fully grown adults and have children of their own. Really great insights.
Published 26 days ago by John Piper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book.
Published 3 months ago by JJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and inspiring!
I read this book years ago when my children were much younger and have just now re-read it. It is brilliant and inspiring. It is great for parents and also great for adults. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tracy
Published 7 months ago by NANCY
5.0 out of 5 stars Time
Arrived on time, what I expected. The book itself is excellent for parents, teacher and whoever is in regular contact with children. An eye opener.
Published 9 months ago by Savia de Morais Arbuckle
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose happiness
Written in a very easy style that carried conviction. Sensible content that sounds credible. Good advice that is straightforward to apply. Read more
Published 9 months ago by E. M. Kavanagh
5.0 out of 5 stars Every human should read this
This book offers important insight on people in general, not just children. It may help you understand why people act the way they do.
Published 10 months ago by alison elliot
4.0 out of 5 stars good read.....
The book arrived promptly, in good shape and is very worth the reading if you are interested in learning about positive parenting.
Published 12 months ago by Carlita
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for the parent, teacher, theologian or any person who happens to...
I am a theologian by love for the avocation and in the interest fo pursuing excellence I often find it rewarding to study, philosophy, psychology, history cosmology and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by AMA
5.0 out of 5 stars Written for parents but should include educators and caregivers.
Happy Children don't just happen... Easy read that makes this book very valuable for anyone who influences the lives of children. Read more
Published 14 months ago by skylark
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More About the Author

I am a child and adult psychiatrist with private practices in Sudbury, Mass as well as on the upper west side in New York City. Both practices operate under the name The Hallowell Center, where we offer diagnosis and a range of treatments for ADHD and learning problems in children and adults. I also am a writer and a speaker. I am married to Sue Hallowell, a social worker and a therapist. We have been married for 24 years and have 3 children, Lucy, now 23, Jack, 20, and Tucker, 17 (as of April, 2013).
The major theme that runs through all my work is the magical power of the human connection, and the power of positive connections of all kinds. I also specialize in learning differences and have written books about how to deal best with attention deficit disorder, a condition that I regard as a potential gift, if it handled correctly. Having both ADHD and dyslexia myself, I am particularly qualified to help people with these conditions bring out their best
I welcome hearing from readers. Just send me an email to or visit my website at

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