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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: ( Book Review Pedcast)

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

The 7 Habits of highly Effective Teens:

By Sean Covey

1998,  Simon and Schuster


Welcome. Thanks for joining me today.  I am your pedcast host, Dr. Paul Smolen.  One of the great things about producing a podcast is that I read and explore a lot of material in preparation.  Recently I decided that giving parents my impressions of some of the books that address parenting and childhood issues might be useful.  Maybe I will peak your interest in reading a book, or maybe I can just sum it up for you and you can gain from my reading.  Whichever it may be, here is my second book review in this special edition of DocSmo.com.  Today’s book is by Sean Covey, the son of the famous author Stephen Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame. Sean has written a teen equivalent called …of all things… 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens!  Talk about following in Dad’s footsteps!

This book offers self-help for teens to improve their lives, whether their lives are on track or not.  The book is written in the spirit of a personal coach for teens.  It demands some self-reflection and when appropriate, guides teens through baby steps toward change with concrete examples and exercises.  As Mr. Covey puts it, improvement demands that we “look at the man in the mirror.”

Here are two of my favorite of Mr Covey’s habits:

1. Be proactive—By that he means that you are the master of your own fate.   Take control.  Don’t be passive and react to events.  Stand up for yourself when appropriate.

2. Think Win-Win mentality—Try to solve problems and conflict with solutions that let both parties win.  This habit requires keeping promises, being kind, listening to others’ points of view, being loyal, setting clear expectations and compromising.  Sean Covey’s father made this habit famous in the original book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  by Stephen Covey.

Well, you get the idea.  Please take the time to read the rest of Mr. covey’s book to explore all 7 habits he suggests for your teen.

Now for my comments.  Let’s start with the pros of this book.  Here are what I see as it’s strengths:

a. Teens of various reading abilities will be able to read the book.


b. The book is peppered with stories and cartoons with messages which keep it entertaining, especially for teens.


c.  Many of the habits have exercises encouraging self-reflection and ultimately, learning new healthy habits.


d. The book is motivational.


e.  One thing I particularly like about the book is the 50 reasons for teens not to be sexually active.  If you read nothing else, read this section.  Mr. Covey has obviously given this a lot of thought…50 reasons!


f.  I also like the rubric of Habit 3 (First things first) about time management.


g.  Finally, I think that the book could provide a jumping-off point for conversation between teen and parent.

Now for the Cons:

a.  I think the book is unnecessarily long and, frankly, gets bogged down in spots.


b.  Additionally, I found some spelling errors—inexcusable in my opinion.


c.  I think some of the exercises (e.g., the personal mission statement) assume a level of maturity that many teens don’t have.


d.  I think the author believes that teens with serious depression, eating disorders, and drug problems can simply learn the habits and solve their life problems.  I think this assumption is naïve and possibly dangerous.  Mental illness is not something that the 7 habits will cure.

My Overall impression:

Despite being a little choppy in presentation, I think the book could be useful for many teens and their families. I actually think it might be more useful for parents to read than teens.  I think a parent who reads the book may be able to help his or her children form effective habits.  I also think that the book may help parents of children with low motivation.   Overall, I give the book 3.5 out of 5 Doc Smo stars.  I would love to hear your perspective on the book.   As always, thanks, and I look forward to you joining me again in the future. This is Dr. Paul Smolen hoping you are able to raise a keen teen. Until next time.


From the Desk of DocSmo- Teen Driving Safety

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 16th-22nd), an attempt to improve our awareness of the dangers young drivers face as well as giving parents ideas on how to reduce their young drivers’ chances of being injured in a car.  It is very tragic that on average 8 children a day die in preventable automobile accidents.  These are young, healthy, energetic, bright adolescents who die before their adult lives even begin.

During my pediatric career, I have witnessed improvement in both car safety and in the teaching of driving skills to teens.  I am a big fan of the graduated driver’s license.  My children benefited from the slow introduction of driving skills.   I also think  that automotive engineers have done a wonderful job over the past 30 years of improving the safety of cars.  I have seen teens walk away from crashes that would have surely killed a generation ago, protected by airbags, safety cages, restraint systems, and anti-roll technology.   My first car didn’t have a seat belt!

The highlight of National Teen Driver Safety Week campaign is to get parents more involved in teaching safe driving to their children.  Here are some suggestions for improving your teen’s driving skills:

-Drive with your teen as much as possible, the more the better.  Practice makes perfect.

-Be very clear about your expectations for your teen’s driving.  Lay out the rules and write them down. Make a formal agreement and get everyone to sign it.  Make sure your agreement addresses your teen’s car privileges as well as financial contributions to driving, cell phone use while driving, calling home when away from home, driving after dark, radio use while driving, driving non family members, and the consequences of driving infractions or breaking house rules.

– Share your rules with other parents.  Having similar rules for your child’s friends will make them easier for everyone to enforce.

-Lead by example.  Set a good example for your children by being a safe driver yourself.  Never drink and drive.  Be defensive in your driving.  Wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers do as well.  Don’t drive when you are too tired.

I am now going to share with you something that I invented that I think helped when my children were learning to drive.  I realized that the more I reminded (nagged)  my children to follow the rules the more they ignored me.  My reminders, instead of reinforcing the messages of safe driving, seemed only to emotionally agitate my children.  I therefore decided to communicate with them using “hand signals” to remind them of my safe driving tips.  Here are Dr Smolen’s hand signals for safe driving:

– “1 finger then  10”.   Meaning- stay 1 car length back for every 10 miles per hour.  Example- 3 car lengths back at 30 mph.

– “Repeated downward hand motion”.  Meaning- Don’t drive too fast.  Stay BELOW the speed limit.

– “The double head turn with fingers pointing both ways.”  Meaning-  Look twice before you pull out into oncoming traffic.

-“Shake head no with phone to ear”- Meaning- No talking, texting, surfing or anything else with the phone while driving.

– “2 fingers pointing from eyes”- Meaning-  Keep your eyes on the road!

Feel free not only to use my hand signal method of communication with your young driver, but also to add your own variations.  It was actually fun to talk to my children with just hand signals and have them know exactly what I was talking about.  I am posting some web resources for you to check out if you want to read more on this subject.  You can find a sample driving agreement to use as a starting point on the CDC website.  Good luck and happy driving.

Slow Down:

Pay Attention:

No Cell:

Look Two Ways:

1 per 10:


CDC – Teen Driving – Parents Are the Key Homepage

Get Behind National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW)

CDC – Teen Driving – Graduated Driver Licensing – Parents Are the Key