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

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  289 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published October 1st 2002)
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Jun 09, 2009 Willa rated it really liked it
Shelves: before-2009
The author thinks that childhood happiness that puts down real roots comes from the following:

Connection, Play, Practice, Mastery, Recognition

Connection is the groundwork for all the rest. He points out that even kids from troubled backgrounds can succeed IF they find a person that can help them connect. But obviously, it's better if the parents themselves provide the basis for connection, and he says we don't have to be perfect to provide this -- just willing to love the kids, enjoy them, spend
Oct 30, 2011 Anji rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautiful book! Skip the whole idea of 5 steps and listen to what he's saying (and he says it beautifully). I loved that this Harvard psychiatrist isn't a know-it-all, but instead a friendly reminder to slow down, listen to your intuition and common sense, and remember what you loved about being a kid. I will actually keep this book because I imagine I will reread it whenever I need to be inspired.
Jan 04, 2013 Molly rated it really liked it
I will tell you why I connected so strongly to this book at this point in my life. Both of my children are now in private school. I am seeing more and more parents using "stuff" as a way to connect with their children rather than experiences. I am also seeing far too many shark eyes, of those children who have seen it all, done it all, and own it all and nothing can move them anymore. It's sad. No one can be satisfied with a simple slumber party anymore; there must be a theme. Or, that everyone ...more
Jul 16, 2014 Tommi rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
I didn't think this book was written very well. It wasn't very enjoyable to read. It felt more like ramblings. But I really liked Hallowell's 5 steps. The 5 steps are a continuing cycle that when instilled will naturally lead to self-esteem, optimism, moral choices, etc. The steps are CONNECTION, PLAY, PRACTICE, MASTERY, & RECOGNITION. Connection is the most important. A child must feel loved and connected to someone (hopefully their parents). Hallowell also talks about the importance of ...more
Feb 14, 2009 Daneen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents and teachers.
Recommended to Daneen by: a parenting magazine.
I finished this book a few months ago and it was a good reminder and an eye opener to how I am raising my daughter. I will be sure not to SOLVE her problems but rather listen and let her make mistakes and solve her own problems so that she can become independent and confident. Far too often parents want to step in and make everything right for their child not allowing him/her to grow. This is one of many things I discovered. A great book if you are a parent or teacher.
Jen Lee-Olmstead
Oct 13, 2016 Jen Lee-Olmstead rated it really liked it
Good especially for us middle-class parents who have a tendency to be overly involved and have the means to provide too much. Good tips on increasing resiliency and optimism.
Apr 17, 2015 Anne added it
Happiness cycle: connection-play-practice-mastery-recognition (-connection-play......)

Connection is the foundation for everything else. Means of connection within families include unconditional love, family dinners, reading aloud, touch, time spent talking, rituals and traditions, and pleasure in being together.

Other sources of connection are friendship, church, responsibilities (ie chores), activities, pets, extended family and a sense of the past.

The best teacher of moral behavior is connect
Jul 08, 2013 JaNel rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
He has five steps/characteristics that he (and many experts that he quotes) think are essential. I mostly agree with him. I would've enjoyed the book more, but I feel that it mainly validated what I already believed and was (mostly) doing. If it's one of your first parenting books, it's a great synopsis of many others, and a great guide.

What do I want for my children?
My answer: I want them to be happy.

What does that mean?
My answers:
-resilient: to be able to try again inf they want to, to weathe
Lourdes Heuer
Jul 26, 2016 Lourdes Heuer rated it it was amazing
Book 24 of 2016. Parenting/Child Psychology. "Summer is like childhood. It passes too fast. But if you’re lucky, it gives you warm memories from which you take strength in the cold days ahead"
"Each activity a child takes up is a seed that might just grow into a lifelong pleasure or even passion. These seeds beget the childhood roots of adult happiness…The more activities you have that you like to do simply because you like to do them, the greater your chances of living a happy life…It is
Apr 29, 2011 Jenni rated it liked it
I recently heard Michael Thompson (Raising Cain) speak and he recommended this book. I purchased it as a possible summer reading book for our faculty (middle and high school teachers). I thought is would help foster discussion as we talk about Race to Nowhere. I wanted to read it first and I am glad I did.

The book is good, but definitely aimed at parents of young children. I personal gleaned some gems from the book, but they were few and probably have to do with where I am in my life right now
Feb 03, 2013 Marleen rated it really liked it
A good book about parenting that reminds us that love and the feeling of security is the best thing we can do for our children. Dr. Hollowell emphasizes the importance of personal connections, routines and family rituals in building a nurturing relationship with your child. This provides the foundation that will help your child grow into a happy fulfilled adult. The other important elements are play, practice, mastery, and recognition. We want our children to be resiliant; to be able to handle ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Jules rated it liked it
A good framework to think about how children develop the skill of pursuing and sustaining happiness that can last throughout their lives, and how as parents we should help them develop this skill, and give them opportunities to practice it, rather than just plopping ephemeral happiness in front of them like lollipops. I found the steps: connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition, overall very sound, and worth exploring. The basic idea of giving kids a chance to work up to mastering ...more
Andrea Thorpe
Feb 02, 2010 Andrea Thorpe rated it really liked it
I found this author's writing to be extremely positive and well explained. He was an easy read, since his writing flowed well for me.

I learned that a connection to a larger entity than themselves is the foremost ingredient to creating lifelong joy for my kids. Everything else is just as important, but doesn't exist without connection. I left feeling that I could definitely bring my kids up to have passions that sustain creativity and happiness.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is looki
May 29, 2008 Malia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents
I loved this book. Edward Hallowell is not always a masterful writer, but he writes so tenderly about his own children and children in general that I was moved to tears several times. Hallowell helps readers connect with their own childhoods to help remember what went right, and gives some clear steps to helping kids have a happy, authentic childhood that will lead to adult happiness. He clearly calls for parents to move away from the achievement-at-all-costs mindset that can lead to miserable ...more
Apr 14, 2015 Tessa rated it it was amazing
I got so much from this book. I picked it up from the new book shelf at the library on a whim, thinking it would be something I could easily skim through and return, but I ended up reading it all. Hallowell's tone is warm and self-deprecating. He's an accomplished psychiatrist and doctor, but his descriptions of his own family life and his own parenting adventures make him seem very approachable. Pretty much everything he wrote was preaching to the choir with me, as his parenting philosophy ...more
Oct 18, 2013 Kony rated it really liked it
Great message, stated in a joyful and down-to-earth way. This guy loves kids and loves life, and his positive attitude permeates the book. I really dug the first half or so, smiling and dog-earing like crazy, because the central ideas resonated so deeply. I started skimming more as I went along, because later points and anecdotes started feeling redundant. Still, overall, I enjoyed it. It's a reassuring and refreshing take on what life is truly about, and what we all want as human beings, small ...more
Laurie Dewan
Sep 30, 2015 Laurie Dewan rated it it was amazing
As a parent of two young children, I loved the way that this book helped me focus on and truly value their happiness as an end in itself. While the author gives a very specific 5-step program for helping children find true, deep happiness, his advice is far from formulaic. He encourages parents to reflect on the roots of our own happiness (or lack thereof) and to view our children honestly and with care. In large ways and small, this book has made me a happier parent and hopefully helped me to ...more
Caryn Jackson
Jan 28, 2016 Caryn Jackson rated it really liked it
Terrific book recommended by a friend. This is one the the best books I have read about raising children because it was one of the few books that speaks to loving and relating to kids, particularly kids with ADHD. Wish I had read it sooner, particularly for my daughter's and mine relationship, but so glad to have it read while she is still at home. I actually ordered in on Amazon to read again.
Mar 16, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it
I already took this book back to the library, but let's see if I can remember the steps to happiness:
1) a feeling of connectedness (to family, etc.)
2) play
3) practice
4) mastery
5) recognition

Guess what? "Get into Harvard" or "play on the best city-league soccer team" was not on the list!

As I read this book, I was comparing the steps to my understanding of our relationship with God and "eternal happiness", and I saw lots of parallels.
Amanda Banks
Feb 27, 2013 Amanda Banks rated it did not like it
Shelves: parenting
I hated this book, for its utterly unoriginal content (why write a book if you have nothing new or creative to say? for the money, I guess), the horrible smugness of the author, and its generally dishonest view of parenting and the world in general (in favor of giving everything a sugar coating, an odd choice given the author's professional occupation in mental health, one of the more depressing fields). Grade: D+.
Nov 07, 2011 Josh rated it liked it
This gave me much to think about both in terms of my own personal and professional development and how I can give my kids opportunities to develop talents and hobbies that will sustain with life-long enjoyment. I would recommend it to any parent, as well as to anyone who has thought or been told they need to find a hobby.
Aug 29, 2010 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting, psychology
This book identifies what the author believes to be key developments in children which influence their long term happiness. Most of the boo kis rooted in research, but the author doesn't have footnotes indicating where the source material comes from and his illustrations largely come from his family life which results in this book not being as good as it could be.
John Strohm
Apr 27, 2011 John Strohm rated it really liked it

This is a pretty good book on parenting, although it is about twice as long as it needs to be. The author in the beginning says he will keep the book short because parents are busy, and then proceeds to waste time with extended stories about welfare babies and his own broken childhood.

In spite of the length, it's highly recommended.
Jun 17, 2016 Hana rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
On the whole, this was the type of book that kept me thinking after I put it down, even though it didn't feel so spectacular while I was reading it. It could have been shorter, but overall re-emphasized a few very straightforward points that I firmly agree lead to the ability to grow up happy: loving unconditionally, not over-parenting, and planting seeds of passion for your child to develop.
Apr 29, 2013 Kelsey rated it liked it
I felt the author was very repetitive and that the book could've been a few chapters shorter, but Hallowell addresses key factors to childhood happiness and what makes childhood the most beneficial for our children. I definitely agreed with many of his points and views. Worth the read for any parent.
Jul 18, 2008 Annie rated it really liked it
I loved Hallowell's emphasis on those things that make children feel secure, and have tried to incorporate them into my own parenting. I particularly liked his feelings that children need an adult to trust and confide in -- even if it is not a parent, and his encouragement of spirituality in children.

I've recommended this book to lots of new parents!
Jul 28, 2009 Rebecca rated it did not like it
Och, perfectly terrible. Just follow these simple Five steps of blah blah blah blah. Like a dull corporate powerpoint stretched on endlessly-- unsullied by research, or experience, or anecdote...How does such awful stuff ever get published?
Chris Walker
May 14, 2012 Chris Walker rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Some really great bigger ideas buried under loads of anecdotes. The author's stories of his own memories or children tended to be a little too gushy for me. Still, just by reading this book I felt more connected and proactive with my daughter.
Cindy Deister
Jul 25, 2016 Cindy Deister rated it it was amazing
An excellent book for parent, teacher, and even for families to read together. The cycle described by the author has been processing in my mind since, and I am ready to share it with teachers at our preschool. I especially enjoyed the emphasis on play.
Sophie Brookover
Dec 21, 2007 Sophie Brookover rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents
Shelves: nonfiction
Not done yet -- it's an ILL, so I have to return it -- but it's so good I may buy a copy for myself.
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Edward M. Hallowell is a child and adult psychiatrist who specialises in ADD/ADHD and who also has ADHD. He is the co-author of the book Delivered From Distraction. He also created The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, MA. He is a Harvard alumnus and has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School since 1983. He received his medical degree from Tulane University ...more
More about Edward M. Hallowell...

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