Friday, March 18, 2011

Reading: The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

I was at a school council meeting for my daughter's school, and one of the teachers was talking about a book written by Sean Covey called The 7 Habits of Happy Kids.  I own his father's book, "the 7 habits of highly effective people" and remembered that it had some great basic guiding principles.... basic things like "putting first things first".  I have been frustrated with some of the bad habits my children have been developing (needing an adult to entertain them, not taking responsibility for themselves or their things), so when I heard about this book, I borrowed it from the library - and gave it a read.  To be honest, I was skeptical, it all smelled a little bit too much like the Dr. Phil family empire with everyone in the family getting into the game....all recycled content for new profit.   But I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised....
At first glance, it doesn't look that engaging for kids - my kids looked at the cover and weren't interested - but I sat down and started reading out loud and very quickly they were engaged in the stories and kept asking me to read more.  The book has a group of fun characters who run through the 7 stories - each one focusing on one of the "habits":
  1. Being Proactive (taking responsibility for yourself)
  2. Begin with the End in Mind (goal setting and planning)
  3. Putting First things First (prioritizing - work first, then play)
  4. Think Win-Win (effective conflict resolution)
  5. Seek First to Understand and then to be Understood (listening with your ears, eyes and heart)
  6. Synergize (working as a team, appreciating everyone's strengths)
  7. Sharpen the Saw (the importance of balance in life - mind, heart, body and soul)
The kids enjoyed the stories, and getting to know the characters.  There were great questions at the end of each chapter so you could explore the themes with your kids.  My 7-year old got it - and my 4 year old just liked the stories, but hopefully it will sink in eventually!

I had the opportunity to put one of the 7 habits into action today - Think win-win.  My daughter was going to a "beach party" at the local community centre, and she wanted to wear a summer dress - I needed her to be warm while we walked there.  My usual impulse would have been to just tell her that if she wanted to go, she had to wear something warmer or put leggings on under the dress (the easiest solution when I am pressed for time).  But instead I told her about my need for her to be warm while walking there, and let her know that I understood her need to dress in beach wear. So, we came up with a list of solutions that would satisfy both of us.  I won't lie, the process was a little bumpy, and there were tears and it took longer than my just telling her what to do, but in the end, we worked together and came up with a win-win solution.  I guess the book was as much for me as it is for the kids!  Many of you out there probably already do these things with your kids - but for me, I am at best inconsistent - so it helps to have a framework and reference to drive these positive behaviours.

I think this is a book I would like to own - so I can keep reading the stories to the kids and reinforce the messages to them and to me!  Thought I would share it with you......

Does anyone else have great books that reinforce good values?  I am still looking for one that stresses the importance of taking care of your things and respecting what belongs to someone else.......


  1. Hi - I found your blog while looking for others who have read The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. I found the book at the library and tried a few activities with my kids. My 4 year old had a similar reaction to yours - he liked the stories, but the lessons were totally over his head. As far as good books - outside of religious books, I like Raising Happiness, Loving Your Child is Not Enough, and any of the Love & Logic books. Glad I found your blog - Kim

  2. Thanks for the suggestions Kim! I will be sure to check out the recommended titles from the library! You mention the Love and Logic books - is that a series? I did an online search at my library and couldn't find those.... is there an author or a specific title? Glad you enjoyed the blog! I look forward to hearing from you on other posts too!

  3. There is a book called Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay that focuses on kids under age 6 and they also have one called Parenting with Love and Logic (by Foster Cline & Jim Fay). I've only read the first one, but hear that both are good.