05 Aug Book Review – 100 Ways to Happy Children
Sherri Fisher, MAPP, M.Ed., CPBS, combines 25 years experience in PK-12 education with positive psychology to uncover engaged learning and working solutions for both individuals and organizations. She is a principal of three education-related businesses: Student Flourishing, provides strength-based education management coaching for students and families; Flourishing Schools, in collaboration with MAPP colleagues Dave Shearon and John Yeager, offers workshops, consulting and coaching integrating best practices in education with cutting edge Positive Psychology research. Full bio.
Sherri writes on the 5th of each month, and her past articles are here.
Parents, if you have been waiting for a positive psychology book that is results-oriented but easy to digest, Dr. Timothy J. Sharp_ã_s 100 Ways to Happy Children may be just what you are looking for. Light on researcher names and discussion of empirical constructs but heavier on simple activities, this little book reads like 100 days of practical homework for the parent who only has a few moments at bedtime to reflect on the day and just needs to try some things that will work.
There is not a program to follow nor is the book scholarly or deep. Instead, the research is there in the form of Dr. Sharp_ã_s years of private practice, in short narratives which show positive parental skills in action, and in the clear but subtle use of words like strengths, resilience, optimism, and gratitude. You won_ã_t necessarily know why something is likely to work, but the upbeat examples, most of which fit on a single page, are nicely peppered with before and after stories of parents and children who use Dr. Sharp_ã_s approaches.
The book is divided into five sections, each of which has twenty entries. You don_ã_t have to read any of the book in order, and Sharp has nicely pointed the reader to other pages with related information, so if you missed something earlier in the book, you can relax and read up on it later.
The first section is for parents who, Sharp rightly identifies, won_ã_t be much use at helping their children identify strengths if the adults can_ã_t do this for themselves. For that reason I believe it would be worth beginning there. There are also sections on character building, setting positive boundaries, making learning safe and fun, and ensuring well-being. Both a great table of contents and the index can help you find the next topic, or you can open to a random entry. While Sharp suggests keeping a diary, since some entries take up only half a page, the reader might add visuals or notes, or even treat the book as a place to journal results.
Other books for parents, such as Tamar Chansky_ã_s Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility, and Happiness look deeply at the underlying causes and interventions for treating negative thinking and draw directly, with attribution, on therapeutic approaches and research from the worlds of cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology.
For a person with more academic interests and a need for or enjoyment of further explication, Chansky offers a nice marriage between readability and evidence, and her activities for parents are clearly scripted and explained. Excellent charts, graphs and drawings support the text, and bulleted summaries reprise the high points within chapters. Drawings such as _ã–The Negative Think Hole_ã and _ã–Brain Nets_ã illustrate what might otherwise seem to be complex ideas, and approaches are explained with clear, developmentally appropriate activities for following up with your child. The book reads as though Chansky is anticipating reader questions; she clearly takes the audience_ã_s needs for explanation and example into consideration.
Back to school is right around the corner. During this natural transition time, either one of these books can help you get started applying positive psychology with your (or someone else_ã_s) children. I_ã_d love to hear what you think works best!
Sharp, T. (2009). 100 Ways to Happy Children. Penguin Books.
Chansky, T. (2008). Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility, and Happiness. Da Capo Lifelong Books.
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This article is Ô© 2009 PositivePsychologyNews.com. The original article was authored by Sherri Fisher on August 5, 2009, and can be seen here. To join the discussion about this article, click here.