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Listen to Dr. Hallowell on Raising Happy Children

Education Should Teach Attitudes

This is the main theme of Dr. Ned Hallowell’s talk (podcast link further down) on raising children.  Hallowell —  a child and adult psychiatrist, author and founder of intervention centers in NY and MA — 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 is to learn attitudes — perseverance, optimism, creativity, flexibility, attitudes that lead to success.

Then Hallowell asserts that these attitudes come from 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.”  For children with reading difficulties or needing learning help, this emphasis is even more critical.  As he says there are a wide range of successful lives available to be lived and not many of them require straight As.