|Dr. Coleen Kelly Mast gives some of her educational materials to David Olejnik of Shelby Township, Michigan, who came to hear her speak at the school open house for Everest on Nov. 9, 2008.|
November 30, 2008. Clarkston, Michigan. Children who grow up with
the understanding that others’ needs supersede their own will be
happy and successful adults, according to one expert on children’s
Dr. Coleen Kelly Mast, who holds an Honorary Doctorate in
Humane Letters from Quincy University and a master’s degree in
health education, said the key to raising a successful child
is realizing there is more than one level of happiness
–in fact there are four. Our culture, unfortunately, emphasizes only
the first two levels, but this is not enough to
truly satisfy the human person.
Dr. Mast addressed parents attending the
November 9, 2008 Open House on the Everest campus
in Clarkston, Michigan. Dr. Mast speaks nationwide on subjects of
psychological and physical health. She hosts, along with Dr. Ray
Guarendi, a syndicated Catholic call-in radio show - “The Doctor
Is In” - that gives psychological and spiritual advice.
Mast told her audience that the first level of happiness
is “feeling good,” the level at which many in our
culture are stagnated. “Our culture is into emotional immaturity,” said
Mast. “It teaches our kids the opposite of what we
want them to learn and to do. But we must
swim against the culture and eventually help our children change
The second level of happiness, she explained, involves accomplishment of
a goal, such as winning a sporting event or getting
good grades. “In our world today,” she said sadly, “those
who do get beyond the first level rarely go beyond
Self-Giving Is the Key
But for a human person
to be truly happy, he or she must develop the
habit of self-giving, according to Mast. Humans are made to
love, and love involves sacrifice, which is not a popular
idea in our modern world. Parents must help their children
to reach this point by emphasizing the development of virtues
like self-control and self-discipline.
According to Dr. Mast, family life is
well suited to educate children in virtuous living and the
development of what she calls a “fine-tuned” conscience. (Mast stated
emphatically that children will not be happy if their consciences’
are not fined-tuned.)
|Dr. Coleen Mast poses near a sign touting her appearance at the school open house for Everest on Nov. 9, 2008. Standing with her (from left to right) are Maura Plante, Everest Director of Admissions, and Michael Nalepa, Everest Executive Director.|
“We have wonderful support systems through our
churches and schools,” she said, “but these are just support
systems. The Church and school cannot not make up for
what is lacking at home.”
Child Must Learn to Discipline Themselves
how can busy parents help children fine-tune their consciences? Dr.
Mast suggested parents adopt the strategy of a sports coach.
Parents need to stop “nagging,” she says, and teach the
skills of self discipline.
A parent’s good example is not
enough, Mast said. Children must become engaged in their own
development. Parents can help by making children accountable for their
actions, and stop protecting them from painful experiences.
train our children to make sacrifices, and let them face
the consequences of their actions,” said Mast.
She stated that good
discipline is not just getting compliance from children. “We must
motivate them with more than ‘Because I said so.’” Mast
refers to a scene in a Christian movie called “Facing
the Giants” where the football coach gets a rebellious team
member who is a leader to his other teammates to
carry another team member on his back while crawling on
his knees, across the entire football field.
“The whole time
the coach is right down there with the kid, encouraging
and challenging him. You know he loves this kid and
wants the best out of him,” said Mast.
true happiness, parents must remember that diligence is more important
than intelligence. “Children need to learn that developing the habit
of working hard is more important than getting straight “A”s,”
she said. Parents must teach the skills to help them
reach this point, like orderliness and organization.
Our Thought Process
Leads to Generosity
Then parents need to work on developing
in their children the habits of generosity and kindness to
others. She suggests starting with what goes on in their
heads. “Help your child, and yourself, to think kind thoughts
of others, while pushing out negative thoughts. This makes generosity
all the easier.”
Mast also suggests getting to know your child’s
unique temperament, and in conjunction with this, having he or
she develop the habit of reviewing his or her day
nightly, with a focus on improving his or her own
Mast emphasized, above all, that we must remember
life is not all work and no play. “We must
celebrate and enjoy life. Laugh about ourselves and have fun!”
you would like more information on Dr. Mast and her
particular philosophy of success, go to her website