The meaning of authentic success

Psychologist & Author Madeline Levine, PhD, shares advice for parents on what success truly looks like in your kid and how to raise a happy and successful child
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The meaning of authentic success

I think parents are confused about what success looks like for their kids. You go to any school in America and what you see is, the Honor Roll and the Athletic Scholarships. That makes it seem like, nothing else counts. For those of us, you've been a parent and around for a while, you know that authentic success is a much broader, deeper context than just easily observable success. Authentic success is something that feels owned by the child. It is not something you did. It's not something they got help with. It feels like their own version of who they are. The single most important thing a parent can do, is actually get to know their child authentically. Who your child really is; not what you wanted that child to be, not who your sister's child is. Every child brings extraordinary gifts into a family. If we take the time and pay attention and help our child to develop their island of competence, the things they are good at, the things that come naturally to them, the things that interest them; then we help them cultivate a sense of "I own myself." I've got a home in here that really belongs to me. I think that's authentic success.

Psychologist & Author Madeline Levine, PhD, shares advice for parents on what success truly looks like in your kid and how to raise a happy and successful child


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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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