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Raising Kids in the 21st CenturyReview - Raising Kids in the 21st Century
The Science of Psychological Health for Children
by Sharon K. Hall
Wiley-Blackwell, 2008
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H.
Sep 1st 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 36)

Raising Kids in the Twenty-first Century is a bridge connecting psychological research and practical applications of that research, with regard, particularly, to the healthy psychological development of children.  The author, Dr. Sharon K. Hall, is an Associate Professor of Psychology, at the University of Houston (Clear Lake).  Hall toils diligently to review research data, pertinent to various "measures" associated with children and good psychological health, in informatively practical fashion.  The book formed by Hall's toilsome intellectual labor expertly informs the reader, in a research supported, practical way, regarding the raising of psychologically healthy children.

A distinguishing structural feature of the book is the characteristic placing of a briefly worded "vignette", at a chapter's start, which engagingly introduces the reader to the main substantive current flowing through a particular chapter.

In another structural vein, Hall here and there implants some pithily worded "examples" (of a germane nature) in the book's substantive soil.  These examples are dissected and examined by Hall in carefully probing search of didactic value for the reader.

The blood vessels feeding the substance of the book flow copiously with a nourishing abundance of information pertaining to psychological health and children.

The view embraced by Hall is that early cognitive growth is connected integrally to good psychological health.  And, in Chapter Two, the development of cognitive skills in early childhood, and also the fostering of such development in children (by adults), garners the raptly discerning attention of Hall.

The crux of Chapter Three is the perspicacious examination, by Hall, of "external" influences outside of the home (importantly enveloping school), on a child's cognitive growth.

In Chapter Four, the psychological development of children as affected by family relationships draws the keen vision of Hall's sharp eye.  The concept of "belonging" is revealingly sighted, in Hall's intellectual field of vision.

"Peer" relationships, as a means to advance the healthy psychological growth of children, is the particular focus of Chapter Five.  Topics broached informatively, by Hall, in this respect, extend to:  parent child relationships; peer interactions; and friendships.

The instilling of "values" in children, in the enframing context of  psychological development, forms the substantive cynosure of Chapter Six.  In characteristically erudite fashion, Hall unravels strands enmeshed with the knotty issue of transmitting values to children, including:  the value of autonomy; and academic achievement as a value.

Linkages connecting "fun", "humor", and "laughter" to good psychological health receive centerstage attraction, in penultimate Chapter Seven.  Following the tradition of the book overall, Hall sifts meticulously through selected research data, in earnest search of nuggets of intellectual matter of particular pertinence to the chapter's substantive emphasis.

Finally, in concluding Chapter Eight, Hall especially focuses readers' attention on the development of "tolerance", as a measure of good psychological health.  Of entwined interest are:  "social justice", "social activism", and "prosocial" behavior.

In an appendix following Chapter Eight, Hall provides information about entities and book resources tethered to tolerance and social justice.

The substantive discourse of Hall is populated with references to specific academic materials.  The identifying of specific references provides a basis to evaluate critically the relative solidness of the research underpinnings supporting the accompanying substantive contents.

The referenced materials suffusing the book typically are reviewed by Hall in an instructively explanatory, albeit not technically advanced, manner.  Indeed, as composed substantively, the book may be vulnerable to critical charges that (somewhat perversely) the dose  of technical sophistication injected into its substantive composition is neither sufficiently potent for the academic or professional reader, nor diluted adequately for the lay reader.

Citations for the referenced academic materials (arranged, alphabetically, by author name) are given in the "References" structural appendage, attached to the book's far end.

To the extent that there are differences  in the relative sparseness or plentifulness of extant research data (in particular sub areas, of the research region encompassing children and healthy psychological development), critically curious readers may question how such differences may have affected the book's contents.

The possible confounding of Hall's review efforts, by design, or other, flaws affecting particular studies situated in this research region, may additionally incite critical curiosity.

But plainly, a cascade flows through the conduit of this book, inundating the reader with information concerning the healthy psychological development of children.  The flow of information conveyed to readers vitally encompasses myriad streams of advice, suggestions, and also guidelines, notable for their practical nature, and originating from Hall's adept review of selected research references.

The fruits of Hall's intellectual toil should be edifyingly delectable to all laypersons seeking guidance concerning the raising of psychologically healthy children.

These fruits may, as well, have greatly nourishing professional value to, among others:  psychologists, developmental psychologists, psychiatrists, child psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, school nurses, school teachers, educators, social workers, pediatricians, and primary care physicians.


© 2009 Leo Uzych


Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University.  His area of special professional interest is healthcare.


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