The meaning of success

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The meaning of success

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There are a lot of questions right now about what success means. A lot of parents are asking themselves: What does success mean for me? What does success mean for my child? How do I know if I'm a successful parent. Our current version of success is incredibly narrow. It's a very metric based system. What preschool did you get into? What grades did you get? What SAT scores did you get? Where are you going to college? Did you get a job at Saks? It's all in these measurable, metrics. In fact, in real life, success doesn't look like that at all. It's a part of it, but success is about what kind of person you are. How happy you are with your life. Whether or not you feel authentic, whether or not you have realtionships, whether or not you have some optimism, whether or not you are a contributor. So, I think, before we can show our kids what success looks like, we have to be incredibly clear ourselves. It's really important that the thing we notice; especially when the kids are younger. If we say, money is not what success is, but every time we walk outside, we comment on the Mazarati down the block or who is wearing what, then there is a lack of alignment between what we say we believe in and what we actually believe in. It's confusing for kids. I think parents need to inventory themselves first and clarify their own version of success before they can model it and to their own children.

Watch Video: The meaning of success by Madeline Levine, PhD, ...

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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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