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The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness


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About the Author

Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., was an instructor at Harvard Medical School for twenty years and is now the director of the Hallowell Centers in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and the Boston area. He is the co-author of Driven to Distraction, Delivered from Distraction, and Answers to Distraction, as well as the author of CrazyBusy, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, and Worry, among other titles. He also hosts a weekly podcast called Distraction that offers practical solutions on how to focus and regain control in today's digital world.


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.

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 Cahners Business Information.

"Ned Hallowell possesses the most inspiring and optimistic voice emerging from the American medical community today. . . . He brings his scientific knowledge and his generous heart to bear on the problems that afflict our lives and those of our children, and we are the better for his unique vision."
New York Times bestselling coauthor of
Raising Cain and Best Friends, Worst Enemies "Dr. Hallowell writes not only with wisdom and experience, but also with heart. In clear, sparkling language, he provides us with practical, engaging ideas about what really matters in childhood. His joy and resilience are contagious."
New York Times bestselling author of The Dance of Anger "A masterpiece . . . Magical and must reading, this book needs to be read and reread by all parents who struggle to chart the best course for their children."
Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health
Department of Child Psychiatry
Columbia University/NY State Psychiatric Institute

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