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10 proven practices to help children thrive

In a world that seems to grow more unpredictable and challenging by the day, how can we increase learning and joy for children while offering them much-needed support?

Uncertainty and disruption have created a youth mental health crisis that requires all hands on deck. This urgently needed guidebook offers comprehensive and scientifically-grounded methods you can use to support young people’s well-being, no matter what obstacles they face. Written by an expert with decades of experience in education, youth development, and social work, this timely and timeless resource includes:

  • 10 practices that can prevent and address mental health challenges and enable young people to thrive
  • Strategies for taking care of kids while also taking care of yourself
  • Information on the most pressing issues youth face, from nurturing healthy relationships to building community and belonging
  • Key takeaways and reflection questions for individual use and group discussion as well as “Try Now” sections with tips and tools that can be used immediately

Providing essential information, practical advice, stories, and time-tested strategies to help kids live and learn, Whole Child, Whole Life is required reading for anyone who is working with, caring for, or raising young people.

List of Tables and Figures
About the Illustrations
Part 1: Whole Child Portrait
Ch 1: Demographics and Determinants
Profile Parts

From Profiles to Portraits

Ch 2: Age and Stage
A Pandemic Pause

Growing Up Fast and Slow

Developmental Protective Factors

Developmental Growth Charts

Developmental Milestones

Ch 3: Brain and Body
It's All Connected

Charting Kids' Health Profiles

Ch 4: People and Places
Kids in Context

Mapping the Spaces Where Kids Spend Time

Understanding and Using Maps of People and Places

"Whole Child" Interview Template
Part 2: 10 Whole Life Practices
The Art and Science of Helping Kids Live, Learn, and Thrive

Ch 6: Meet Basic Needs

When Kids Need Essentials




More Than Maslow

Rights Worth Fighting For

Meeting Basic Needs in Times of Crisis

Ch 7: Prioritize Mental Health
Responding to Mental Health Challenges

Mental Health First Aid

Emotional Wound Care

When Feeling Panicky

When Feeling Overstimulated

When Feeling Strong Emotions or Exhibiting Self-Destructive Behaviors

Mental Health Habits and Emotional Hygiene

Prioritize and Practice

Ch 8: Invest in Personal Interests
You Can Only Be What You Can See

Invest in the Individual

Pursuits of Passion and Purpose

Lifetime Pursuits

Ch 9: Nurture Healthy Relationships
Webs of Social Support

Built to Last

How to Nurture Healthy Relationships

Nurture and Nudge

Ch 10: Build Community and Belonging
Different Kinds of Community

Climate, Culture, and Community Building

Building Belonging

Belonging Across the Long and Wide of Life

Ch 11: Embrace Identities and Cultures
Embracing Community and Culture

Identity Development

Ch 12: Attend to the Past and Present
Kid Specialists

Making Rounds

Young People Should Hold Their Own Histories

Ch 13: Act With a 100-Year Mindset
Living Longer Than Ever

Forecasting Possible Futures

Ch 14: Be a Force for Good
Civic Engagement and Sociopolitical Youth Development

Ch 15: Seek Awe and Wonder
Spiritual Development

The ABCs of Spiritual Development

Nurturing Kids’ Spirit and Spark

Wholeness Comes From an Integrated Core


A Fern That Grows in Lava Fields
Optimal Conditions for Well-Being and Well-Becoming

Aiming for Wholeness

Cultivating the Garden

Back of Book Sketchnote

About the Author
About the Illustrator

“Are you someone who is raising or educating children and youth? If so, open this book. The words, charts, and drawings on these pages wonderfully capture the complexity about what we know works to support kids in today’s world and helpfully convey how we grownups might try to do better—for them.”

Gregg Behr
Co-author, "When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids"; Executive Director, The Grable Foundation

"Momentum for expanding social, emotional, mental, and physical health and development has grown to an all-time high across the country. No one can argue that this is one of the most critical fields in public education. Whole Child, Whole Life is an excellent ‘go-to’ resource for school districts that are committed to creating and sustaining social emotional learning programs as part of their strategic plans on behalf of the students who are learning and growing in their communities."

Daniel A. Domenech
Executive Director, AASA

"In Whole Child, Whole Life, Stephanie Krauss has created a blueprint and set of strategies for what adults (parents, teachers, coaches, neighbors, etc.) can do to help children thrive in a rapidly changing world. This book is chockful of insights, practices, and everyday strategies that support the needs of children, from basic survival needs to nurturing their relationships, sense of belonging, and spiritual development. There are practical ideas here that will help any adult support the growth and flourishing of children, youth, and our communities."

Mark Greenberg
Emeritus Professor, Penn State University; Founding Director, Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center; Board Chair, CREATE

"Stephanie Krauss demonstrates her grasp of the youth mental health crisis we face today and provides the guidance we need to cope with it. This compelling new book is for everyone who cares about young peoplenot just professionalsand I am so grateful she has contributed to our understanding with such focus and compassion."

Chuck Ingoglia
President and CEO, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

"If you care for kids in any capacity, pick up this book right now. It's innovative, humane, solution-oriented, and both powerful and incredibly practical."

Anya Kamenetz
Author, "The Stolen Year"

"Whole Child, Whole Life is a whole encyclopedia of useful ways for adults to understand and support whole children. From creating an in-depth social/emotional/physical/environmental portrait of a child to addressing key challenges, this book offers a treasure trove of strategies and approaches."

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD
Author of "Kid Confidence: Help Your Child Make Friends, Build Resilience, and Develop Real Self-Esteem"

Whole Child, Whole Life is a vivid and thoughtful recipe for adults interested in supporting children to realize their potential and achieve success. Krauss boldly describes the ways and means people and systems can utilize to personalize child development, meet children where they are, and give them what they need to flourish and to become both resilient and accomplished. This is an incredibly useful manual for caring adults who want to help our children thrive in these challenging times.”

Paul Reville
Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Founding Director, EdRedesign; former Massachusetts Secretary of Education

Whole Child, Whole Life is a book that speaks to the ‘wholeness’ not just of children, but to those of us who love, care for, and educate them. Practical strategies interwoven with moving personal narratives make this a must-read for anyone looking to expand their compassion, competency, and knowledge about what it takes to positively impact a future generation.”

Gina Warner
CEO, National Afterschool Association

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ISBN: 9781071884423