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).
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
He also outlines the warning signs and solutions to 10 critical challenges middle schoolers and high schoolers are exposed to, including:
- How to take the “bull” out of bullying and address youth violence
- How sex can change a child’s life forever
- Bad habits: gambling, alcohol, drugs, smoking
- Depression and suicidal tendencies
- Eating disorders, physical inertia, and health issues
Doug has seen firsthand many of these challenges that kids experience. As an educator, he spends between seven and eight hours a day working with children from different backgrounds and possesses a wide perspective on the needs of “the whole child” and the challenges they are going through. Furthermore, as a child, he experienced relentless attacks from bullies, and because of that he’s been an outspoken advocate against youth violence.
His book provides a fresh, comprehensive guide for parents who desperately seek solutions, especially answers to these problems:
- “How do I gain confidence as a parent to choose wisely and help my child succeed at all levels?”
- “How can I react better when faced with temper tantrums or rebellious behavior?”
- “How do I effectively talk about topics like sex, drugs, and bullying with my kid?”
- “How do I listen better so I actually get to know who my child really is?”
- “How can I communicate effectively and connect with my child so she knows I love her?”
- “How do I get my child to be motivated at school and in organized activities without becoming detrimental to my child’s development or injuring our relationship?”
Doug provides parents with useful, time-proven, kid-tested methods to handle stressful or dangerous situations appropriately and effectively. By providing anecdotes, specific steps and tools, practical exercises, and encouraging ideas, Doug provides the strategies that parents will need to simplify parenting in a fast-paced, tech-driven, info-saturated and complex world – and gain a lasting connection with their child – while truly helping them prepare for adulthood.
Q & A with Doug Haddad
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.
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.
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.
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.
About the Author
Douglas Haddad is an award-winning middle school teacher, best-selling author, and parenting and education expert.
Douglas has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” in his Connecticut school district, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017). He has taught over 2,000 students in his 17 years as an educator, working with children from all different backgrounds and abilities.
He was recognized as the 2016-2017 Simsbury, Connecticut Teacher of the Year and has been named a 2017 Teacher- Ambassador for Public Education in the State of Connecticut. Douglas has worked as a coach, personal trainer, nutrition counselor, tai chi ch’uan and reiki master, one-on-one mentor, and tutor. He is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Performance Enhancement Specialist for elite athletes. Douglas has been featured in the NEA Today magazine and the CEA Advisor for educators for his unique contributions in curbing childhood obesity.
Douglas is also a blogger, contributing writer, and has been featured in many national print and online outlets. In addition to his work as an author, educator and wellness expert, Douglas Haddad is a modern-day Renaissance man who has also been on stage singing, playing piano, writing music, performing voiceovers for various companies and products, and acting in theatrical performances, film, television, and commercials over the years.
He has been featured as a regular guest expert on FOX, NBC, ABC, and ION television. He graduated magna cum laude from Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology/secondary education and a master’s degree in biology. Furthermore, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bridgeport with a second master’s degree in human nutrition and was inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi as a lifetime member.
Douglas resides in Connecticut with his wife.