Healthy versus unhealthy risk taking

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Healthy versus unhealthy risk taking

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One of the things really worry about is how much risk taking their kids should or should not be doing, and I think we need to be clear that there is healthy risk taking and unhealthy risk taking. So one expects an adolescent to take some risks. Part of what separation means is I am not like you, so if you do it this way, I am going to do it another way. And as long as your kid is not getting himself or herself into hot water, that is okay. You can expect, for example, with your adolescent that there will likely to be some drug use, some alcohol use, some sexual activity. The best we know from research is that if your child can hold off on those behaviors until they are about 16 years old. There is this real cut off at 16. For example, if your child is really doing drugs at 14, they are at very high risk for substance abuse. If they are doing it at 16 or 17 and fooling around with drugs, they are at no greater risk than the general population. The same thing with sexual activity. 14, 15, high rates of pregnancy and all kinds of academic problems. 16 or 17, no. So every year you can buy for your child or adolescent is a tremendous pay off in terms of not running into significant problems down the line.

Watch Madeline Levine, PhD's video on Healthy versus unhealthy risk taking...

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Expert Bio

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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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