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The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy Hardcover – October 1, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Parenting in a complicated world
Strategies to help you be the best parent you can be. See more
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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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345442326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345442321
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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 community...be 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 something...be 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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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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By Nancy on September 22, 2008
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really like the author's hope and optimism throughout this book. His viewpoint on life is quite a happy one and very positive, which makes for a fun read. His writing is also very engaging, he was born to write books.

I look forward to reading his other works since I am now a fan. Thank you, Ned Hallowell, for sharing your talents and insights with fellow parents.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ALL PARENTS, TEACHERS AND COACHES. It's full of some incredible information that will help kids become happy adults. It really opens your eyes to some things that we "think" are in the best interest of our kids when, in fact, they are the complete opposite. I used a highlighter in the book and intend on making a cheat sheet so I keep these things top-of-mind. Really great stuff - I wish my mother had read it when I was a kid!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! What a great book. Dr. Hallowell hit the nail on the head with this title. This book was like therapy as I read it waiting for my son to arrive. I really wish that every parent or parent-to-be would read this title. I think the world would be a better place.

This book re-kindled memories of my own childhood, both good and bad that will help to establish a baseline for raising my little guy. It was also a very entertaining read. I laughed, cried a little, was inspired and a little heartbroken, but in the end, determined to remember this book when obstacles in fatherhood arrive. I will, no doubt, be revisiting this book over and over again throughout my son's life. What a resource.

If you are an expecting parent or a parent already, please do you and your child a favor and buy and read this book. If you are a loved one of an expecting parent, or a parent that could use a little support, please do them a favor and purchase them this book. And make sure they read it. It will help to make the world a little bit better for us all.
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