The Joy Berry Classics

Objectives, Goals, and How to Use the Joy Berry Classics



The ten-year-old star of Joy Berry's recreation program was a puzzle to her and a problem to his parents. Guy had failed two grades in school and was threatened with expulsion when his exasperated mother called on Joy for help. She visited Guy at his home and was treated to a backyard spectacle. A three-storied treehouse had been expertly constructed high in the boughs of several avocado trees. The structure had running water, electricity, a small refrigerator, a rope-and-pulley elevator, a thatched roof, and windows with glass in them. Joy was amazed to learn that the treehouse was a product of Guy's own imagination and ingenuity.

This young entrepreneur had convinced the neighborhood children to earn their membership in the tree-house club by selling avocados from the backyard trees. Guy had kept careful accounting and organized on-going fund-raisers, which benefited the tree-house club and added to its structure.

Overwhelmed by the size and scope of Guy's backyard project, Joy asked him, "What do you think you do well?"

Crestfallen, Guy answered, "Nothing. I'm not good at sports, I can't draw or sing, and you know how I'm doing in school." Guy paused for a moment then looked directly into Joy's eyes. "Is that why you came to see me? He asked. "Are you disappointed in me too?"

Joy was devastated by Guy's response. Here was a boy who viewed himself as a failure in spite of his obvious accomplishments. Joy vowed then and there to modify her conventional perceptions about children as well as her traditional approach to working with them.

Together, Joy and Guy organized and taught the first classes offered in a supplementary program that Joy continued to expand and direct. The unique classes were designed to teach children the living skills they need to become responsible.

Eleven years later, Joy began converting the classroom materials she created into a comprehensive collection of self-help materials for kids. It took an additional twelve years for her to complete this task.


It is Joy Berry's observation that:

1. The root cause of the world’s major problems is irresponsible people (people who behave in unintelligent, untrustworthy ways). These people create difficult and sometimes detrimental situations for themselves and others.

2. The first step to solving all the world’s major problems is to raise children who are

responsible for themselves,

responsible in their relationships with others, and

responsible in the way they relate to the things in their environments.

It is Joy Berry's belief that:

1. Children do not naturally assume responsibility for themselves. They are often quick to blame others and seldom assume the responsibility for things going wrong.

2. Children do not naturally assume responsibility in their relationships with others. This is exemplified in the predominance of all-take-and-no-give parent-child relationships in which children expect to receive everything from their parents and give nothing in return. It is also exemplified in the predominance of all-take-and-no-give teacher-student relationships in which children expect to be educated without reciprocating in any way.

3. Children do not naturally assume responsibility for the way they relate to the things in their environment. They are more likely to overindulge in anything that promises immediate pleasure or gratification. This includes things like junk food, TV, and the never-ending onslaught of fads promulgated by other forms of entertainment and advertising.

4. Parents often feel inadequate and guilty about dealing with their children's irresponsibility. They often lack the information and skills that are needed to raise responsible children, and they feel guilty when they are unable to do so.

5. Children are the key factor in their becoming responsible. It is futile to tell parents "your children need to do this and that," when it is children, not parents, who need to implement the behavioral changes. Thus, children need to realize that they are ultimately responsible for their lives, and although they cannot always control what happens to them, they can control how they respond to what happens.

It is Joy Berry's conclusion that:

1. Because children need to become responsible and because they are not naturally inclined or equipped to do so, they need to acquire basic Living Skills. Living Skills are the skills every person needs in order to live life intelligently and responsibly.

2. Unfortunately, Living Skills are not something children instinctively develop. Unlike motor skills such as reaching, grasping, crawling, and walking, Living Skills cannot be developed as a result of inherent neurological processes. Like academic skills, they can't be learned without external, instructional input. Living Skills are best learned though the use of self-help materials that present the subject matter in a simple, clear way that children can understand.

Joy Berry's years of teaching Living Skills to children resulted in the following observations:

1. Exactly what Living Skills should be taught to an individual should be determined by the following factors:

• The skill should relate to an issue that the person encounters frequently, and

• The skill should be important to the person.

2. Exactly when a particular Living Skill should be taught to an individual should be determined by the following factors:

• The developmental needs and interests of the person, and

• The environmental influences that are impacting the person's life.

3. In order for Living Skills materials to be effective, they need to accomplish the following:

• Define the issue that needs to be addressed,

• Explain how the issue affects the person and the people around him or her,

• Provide clear guidelines that can help the person make the issue a positive rather than negative factor in his or her life, and

• Motivate the person to follow through with the guidelines.



The first goal of Living Skills materials is to spawn insights that automatically modify behavior. For example, touching a hot stove (a firsthand experience) results in an immediate insight (a hot stove can burn me) which results in the automatic modification of behavior (therefore, I will not touch a hot stove again).

When a child acquires an insight about something, his or her behavior automatically changes to accommodate the newfound understanding and knowledge. Consequently, the motivation to behave appropriately becomes internal rather than external. A child does what is right because of what he or she knows, not because of what he or she is being forced to do.

This moral autonomy is the only way one can survive ethically and pragmatically in the eventual absence of parental and other types of authority. Thus, behavior modification through insight, attained through Living Skills materials, is crucial to the creation and maintenance of a sane, healthy society.


The second goal of Living Skills materials is to teach children how to think rather than what to think so they will live their lives intelligently rather than reflexively. This means that all subject matter must be presented as objectively as possible, and children must be encouraged, then allowed to formulate their own conclusions. In addition, it means that each child must be encouraged, then allowed to relate to the materials at his or her own level, in his or her own way.


The third goal of Living Skills education is to provide the information and skills children need to become personally responsible:

for themselves,

in the way they relate to others, and

for the way they relate to their environment.


To derive the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s materials, it is recommended that an adult:

• Read the materials before presenting them to the child so the adult will be prepared to deal with any questions or comments that the child might have.

• Introduce the product one subject at a time.

• Introduce a subject at a time the child will be receptive to it.

• Discuss the subject with the child before presenting the materials.

• Try to relate the subject to a recent experience or concern of the child’s.

• Present the materials at a pace that is comfortable for the child. Depending on the child’s interest, it might be necessary to go through the materials a few pages at a time.

• Praise the child when he or she follows any advice put forth in the materials.

• Use completed materials as a reference whenever the need arises.

It is recommended that the adult:

• Avoid using the materials when the child feels stressed, overtired, or in a bad mood.

• Avoid using the materials as a punishment or negative consequence for the child’s misbehavior.

• If the child is resistant to a particular subject, it is recommended that the adult:

• Recruit another person, such as a relative, babysitter, or teacher to present the materials.

• Offer the child a reward in exchange for using the materials. For example, postpone bedtime while the materials are being used, or allow the child to do a special activity after he or she finishes the materials.

Use a motivational chart to inspire the child to use the materials. Offer a reward for completing the chart.