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Raising Happy Children


Five Steps to Help Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy

In this presentation, Dr. Hallowell, father of three and a clinical psychiatrist, outlines a five-step plan for promoting successful learning and lifelong joy that parents, teachers and all others who care about children can use to give children the gift of happiness that will last a lifetime: Connect, 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. Based on current research, as well as his own experiences as a parent, teacher, and child psychiatrist, Dr. Hallowell will discuss how one step leads to the next and how the cycle is self-perpetuated.  He will explain how these five key qualities can greatly increase a child’s chances of leading a joyful and meaningful life.  Relevant to anyone interested in happiness or children, this talk points out what really matters in childhood, and what doesn’t, while offering practical pointers on how to make the most of the most precious years of life. 

Connect   Feeling rooted gives children a foundation of security.  Children need unconditional love from one or both parents and benefit when they have close ties to their extended family, feel part of their school, and help care for pets.

Play   Make sure your child’s / student’s free time isn’t too programmed and regimented.  Open-ended play, in which children can invent scenarios and solve problems by themselves, helps them discover their talents and use their own resources.

Practice   When kids find out what they’re good at, they’ll want to do it again and again.  But sometimes you may have to do some gentle nudging to ensure that your child /student sticks to an activity and experiences a sense of accomplishment. 

Mastery   From practice comes mastery.  When children achieve a skill  -- whether it’s learning to tie their shoes, play the piano, draw a flower, complete a math problem, or build a birdhouse  -- they’re further motivated to tackle new challenges.  And that leads to a can-do attitude.

Recognition   Approval and support from one’s parents, teachers, and peers for a job well done reconnect children to the wider world.  When kids think what they do affects their family, classmates, and team, they’re more likely to exhibit moral behavior and, ultimately, to feel good about themselves.

Fortunately, one step leads naturally to the next

Note:  Other topics on this basic theme can also be created.

What Kind of Brain Do I Have?”

This lecture explores the fascinating question of how the brain we're born with influences what we do in life.  Thanks to the advances in the neurosciences over the past decades, we are beginning to be able to answer the questions, “What kind of brain do I have?” or “What kind of brain does my child have?” with more helpful and enlightened answers than the answers most of us current adults grew up with, e.g., “smart” or “stupid”.  We can all benefit from a basic understanding of our brain's biological make-up.  Are you temperamentally upbeat, or are you serious by nature?  Are you shy or outgoing?  Are you a logical thinker or do you tend to be intuitive?  Are you strong at foreign languages or do they come hard to you?  Do you field ground balls effortlessly, or do they skip past you?  These are the kinds of questions this lecture takes up.  The longer the presentation, the greater depth we can get into.

When You Worry About the Child You Love:
Emotional and Learning Problems in Children

Based upon Dr. Hallowell's book of the same title, this presentation explores the various kinds of problems children may contend with that have a biological or genetic basis.  These problems are organized into four categories: Mad, Sad, Afraid, and Confused.  In the “Mad” category, we look at such problems as conduct disorders, disruptive behavior, disregard for authority, or chronic rule breaking, as well as children who simply have a very hard time controlling their anger.  “Sad” covers children who are innately serious, as well as those who might be mildly or severely depressed.  “Afraid” looks at kids, who are very shy, or kids who have been abused in some way, or kids who just feel on the outs, afraid to join in.  And “Confused” takes up the large category of learning problems, from ADD to dyslexia to math problems to non-verbal learning disabilities, as well as covering the even wider field of learning styles, normal variants all children show in how they take in new ideas and information.

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