Doesn't everyone at some point wish for a manual for... life? Nothing could be that comprehensive, but Sean Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens provides practical advice for navigating adolescence. Included: Information about the seven habits.
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone were handed a manual on how to survive adolescence on his or her 13th birthday? While the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide doesn't automatically arrive with the birthday cake, it's become favorite reading for many teens and teachers. More than 3 million copies of the book have been sold and it has been translated into more than 15 languages.
In the book, author Sean Covey (son of Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,) provides a step-by-step guide for youngsters about not just surviving the teen years, but flourishing as an individual, student, sibling, and child.
The Seven Habits are:
Covey, who is senior vice president of innovations and products at FranklinCovey, a consulting organization that helps people maximize personal and professional productivity, talked with Education World about his reasons for writing the book and how he hopes it will impact teens.
Education World: What inspired you to write the book?
Sean Covey: What inspired me was my dad using me and my brothers and sisters as guinea pigs for his famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We lived this stuff and I think we turned out better because of it.
And, I'm really just a great big retired teen myself and I remember how hard it was to be a teen. I don't believe for a minute, though, that my experiences are anywhere near as tough as what today's teens face. I wrote this book to give teens a set of tools to help them navigate through the teen years and come out successful and highly effective adults.
EW: How could teachers use this book in their classrooms?
Covey: Wow, that's a big question. I think the uses for this book in the classroom are limitless. Some teachers have used this as a semester long class, others assign the book in English and have their students do book reports or group presentations. Student councils use the book to share a thought in the morning announcements, homeroom teachers teach a section once a week, character education classes base their core curriculum on the principles in this book, and parent-teacher organizations use it to teach values in assemblies. I could go on and on.
EW: Why do you think there is a need for this type of teen guidebook these days?
Covey: Life is so much tougher for teens today. They are dealing with intense peer pressure, media overload, violence, addictions, sexually-transmitted diseases, and on and on. It's a real jungle out there and I wanted to give teens a guidebook, a compass, a set of tools, to help them navigate through the challenges and struggles they face.
EW: What chapter could you have used most when you were a teenager?
Covey: Definitely Habit 1: Be Proactive. This habit is the foundation and basis for all the others; this is the key to unlocking all the other habits. Once I was able to say, "I am the force, I am the captain of my life" then I was able to go on to do anything I put my mind to.
Choosing to not let any one else control my responses and my emotions really helped to boost my self-confidence and gave me the courage to get out of my comfort zone.
EW: What do teens say is the hardest habit to sustain?
Covey: Any one of the habits is the toughest habit to sustain because every single teen is unique and faces his or her own set of challenges. But a lot of kids say that Habit 7, Sharpen the Saw, is the most important habit for sustaining a healthy life. Most teens tend to do a whole lot in one or two of the dimensions of the four dimensions (body, mind, heart, soul) but balancing all four is really tough because teens are so busy and so distracted by bombarding messages.
EW: What kind of feedback have you received from educators and kids about the book?
Covey: I get bucket loads of letters and e-mails from both adults and teens. Teens mostly say "thanks" your book helped me deal with school, family, friends, etc. I get some letters from teens in juvenile detention centers and they always tell me they wish they had read the book before they had made the poor choices they did to get there.
Some teens write me because it is an assignment from their teacher. Others have told me that their parents made them read the book as a punishment. Whatever the reason, the feedback from all the letters has taught me something about them and the tough trials they face.
Every letter I've received, I've read. And I thank the readers for their support and encouragement. I'm always reminded that our future is in good hands because our future is in their hands.
[Also,] lots of adults read this book so they can know how to talk to their teen. This book has great advice for parents, too. And many adults tell me that now they finally get what my dad was trying to teach in his book!
This e-interview with Sean Covey is part of the Education World Wire Side Chat series. Click here to see other articles in the series.
Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Copyright © 2009 Education World
Originally published 10/04/2006
Last updated 12/31/2009