Q&A with Douglas Haddad, Author of “The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens”


“Douglas Haddad delivers parents a no fail approach to raising children. If you could read only one book to help children become successful and reach their unlimited potential, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens has everything you need and is the one to get!” -Jack Canfield, multiple #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul ® series, success coach, and human potential thought leader.

The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens By Douglas Haddad

 Raising teens and tweens to become healthy, loving, and independent individuals is a process filled with pitfalls and challenges -- from bullying, drugs, sex, and peer pressures to unrelenting societal demands, endless technology challenges, and negative parental or school influences. Award-winning educator Douglas Haddad, who has helped thousands of middle school students transition from being kids into young adults, presents a forceful, insightful, and inspiring guide for parents, educators, and caretakers to use to help raise the newest generation in his latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017, ISBN: 978-1-4422-5695-8; 286 pages).

“Children are living in a ‘war on childhood,’ where problems no longer are viewed as opportunities to problem-solve, but rather an ‘enrichment opportunity’ at every turn,” asserts Doug. “Our children are over-scheduled, distracted by technology, and exposed to so much so fast. We need to help overwhelmed parents and educators to navigate this overwhelming, frenetic-paced society.”
Doug identified 10 tools to nurturing smart, successful, and self-disciplined teens and tweens, including:

Be the boss by sharing power with your child
Use empathy and consequences
Kick your kid’s butt effectively – but not literally
Give your child the license to problem ownership
Get your kid iMotivated
1. What inspired you, after teaching for over 15 years to write a book on raising healthy teens and tweens?

Being around teens and tweens as a teacher, mentor, and coach for 17 years, I have seen the array of challenges that children are faced with. In addition to the traditional problems that have affected children for generations and continue to affect them today, technology has opened up a new can of concerns in which kids are partaking in inappropriate and unsafe behaviors. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that a child’s ability to effectively communicate, resolve conflict, solve problems, and persevere through challenges have diminished over the years. Seeing that and also being actively involved in students’ lives as a teacher, my goal in writing this book is to equip parents with the tools necessary to help their children navigate through challenges and rise up against adversity to achieve their potential.

2. What are the 3-5 takeaways from your book?

In The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens, parents will:

Discover the secrets of effective communication with their children and learn the techniques to stop behavior problems right in their tracks when they happen.

Know the strategies to best motivate their children and unlock their potential.

Find out how to set appropriate limits and hold their children accountable for their actions.

Understand all of today’s “child-limiting challenges” and strategies for preventing and intervening to best handle them with their children.

Apply the 10 specific, proven “child unlimited” tools on a regular basis with teens and tweens to help them unlock their full potential to become smart, successful, and self-disciplined individuals and have a strong connection with their child for a lifetime.

3. What are some of the 10 steps identified in your book to unlocking your child’s full potential?

Avoid unnecessary power struggles by using empathy and providing natural consequences when rules are broken through the “R.E.V. method”

Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Going back and remembering the daily pressures that kids this age face is important in relating with your child. Once a child knows that you truly care and that they are being heard, a child will be more apt to open up and communicate their concerns or come to you for advice.

Be a role model and behaving in a manner that you expect your child to behave is fundamental to getting the desired behavior in your child.

Demonstrate effective conflict resolution and problem-solving skills for your child.

Discipline your child using the “C.A.L.M. technique.”

Use strategies to set goals and increase a child’s motivation.

4. If you were a parent, do you think your book would be written differently?

If I were a parent, I would possibly include anecdotes and highlight different situations from my own personal experiences. However, the scope of this book is coming from a teacher’s perspective, as I wanted to take advantage of the unique position that I am in as an educator, mentor, former coach, and someone who witnesses peer interactions and personal struggles with children on a regular basis for seven to eight hours a day. My goal in this book is to provide parents with an insight into the day-to-day issues that tweens and teens experience, as seen through the lens of an educator who “raised” over 2,000 students, and offer strategies to simplify parenting in a fast-paced society and help them better connect with their children and navigate them toward achieving their full potential.

5. You were named teacher-of-the-year in your school district. What does it take to motivate, teach, and grow middle school students?

Connections, care, and compassion are at the core of my practice as an educator and are the key ingredients to help motivate, teach, and grow middle school students. The old adage, “A kid doesn’t care how much you know until he/she knows how much you care” is so true. Finding a way to connect with all children in a genuine, meaningful way through care, compassion, humor, and storytelling or just being a lending ear for students when they need it, all while creating a safe classroom environment, can make the world of difference. By putting myself out there in a vulnerable state by acting, singing and dancing, my students come to know that I am not afraid to take chances, be real, show vulnerability and would do anything for them to succeed.

6. Why is adolescence an important state in a child’s development?

This is the period in life when children test boundaries, strive for independence, seek to be understood, become curious about the opposite sex, place greater importance on image and being accepted among their peers, engage in different risky behaviors, and develop lifestyle habits that will be carried with them throughout adulthood. In order for parents to have the best chance at raising a smart, successful, and self-disciplined child, they need to be aware of the challenges that their children face and possess strategies to help their children cope to best prevent them from making poor decisions along with techniques on how to intervene in a crisis. Additionally, making connections with children and being actively involved is paramount to them developing good fiber and lifelong habits of success.

7. You note there are many potential pitfalls for the new generation, from addiction, sex, and alcohol to gambling and violent video games. How does today’s parent navigate through this minefield?
Applying the “child unlimited tools” in this book, on a daily basis, will help all parents establish effective communication with their child and apply strategies to regularly and openly discuss the different challenges and pressures that their children face. In turn, this will facilitate a strong, lasting relationship that is rooted in trust. By applying these tools, parents can help their children become good problem-solvers, map out and set meaningful goals, develop resiliency skills to persevere through adversity, and learn and practice coping mechanisms that are non-destructive and emphasize self-responsibility. By spending quality time with a child and displaying a genuine care, interest, patience, and support over a child’s lifetime, a lasting positive impact can be made in a child’s life.

8. Bullying seems to be a huge burden in schools today. Are things improving there?

Creating a school climate around tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures is critical to preventing bullying. Everyone in a school community from principals, teachers, counselors, custodial staff, food service workers, and bus drivers contribute in creating a safe and caring school climate. Having a zero-tolerance policy at school for bullying is crucial toward stopping bullying in its tracks. However, bullying often takes place where adult supervision is lacking such as in the halls, bathrooms, lunchrooms, locker rooms, and on the bus. Involving the entire community - in particular the parents - helps with bullying prevention efforts. With all of the different social media available to kids today, cyberbullying is on the rise and parents need to know how to monitor their child’s online activities.

9. You were bullied as a kid and you see it happen in school when you’re teaching. What do you recommend can be done to tackle this problem?

When I was bullied, I was unable to find help from teachers or friends at school to end bullying. I was lacking strategies to stop these bullying behaviors from recurring. To tackle this problem, I would recommend creating a school climate that is positive and encourages children to speak up if they experience or witness bullying behavior. The environment should be accepting of all individuals and reward students for standing up and doing the right thing. I feel that if schools implement a mandatory life skills and success course for all students (k-12), then kids would understand from a young age the negative impact that bullying has on others and on themselves. Being taught leadership and coping strategies, and how to avoid being a bystander, can save someone from becoming a victim from bullying.

10. Do parents lose their moral authority when they fail to model the behavior they desire from their child?

Children can become perplexed when parents say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Younger children think in absolutes. “If Daddy does it, then why can’t I?” Modeling the behavior that parents desire from their children is the most powerful thing that parents can do to shape their child’s behavior. It is important for both parents to be on the same page when it comes to messages, as to avoid “good cop/bad cop” parenting. If your actions are not something you wish for your child to model, it is important to take ownership for your behaviors. Telling the truth to your child and taking responsibility for shortcomings, failures, or poor choices may feel uncomfortable, but empowers you and shows your child that you care to change and do what is best.

11. What does it mean to get a kid to be motivated?

Getting a kid motivated means that he/she is willing to work hard, on their own accord, to achieve a task or goal. Introducing different activities help spark a child in discovering their interests in life. A child’s ability to persist and continue with a task, despite obstacles in their way, is a sign of an intrinsically motivated child. Children who experience success at a challenging task tend to display positive, engaged emotion and welcome more challenging tasks. Children who possess a high level of motivation have a low dependency on adults and do not seek adult approval or assistance in helping with tasks. They are not doing something in order to receive a reward such as money, candy, a toy, or excessive praise, but for the internal feeling of satisfaction.

12. How should a parent shape his or her parenting style based on their child’s personality and skill set?

There are different parenting styles that can be used based on a child’s unique personality. Research has shown that the most effective strategy involves a high parental demandingness and responsiveness and that an equal level of providing strict discipline and expressing love, warmth, and affection is the foundation for effective parenting. However, it is important to understand the different ways that children are interested in the world around them - whether they are extroverted or introverted - the different ways they gather, evaluate, and organize information to perceive their world. These are good predictors of how children deal with different life experiences and react to various situations. Furthermore, birth order affects personality and it is important to take that into consideration with your parenting style.

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