When you ask parents what they want for their kids, what’s usually the most common reply? They want their children to be happy.
Now there’s tons of info on raising smart kids and successful kids, but how do you raise happy kids?
Sometimes it’s hard to balance what’s best for children with what makes them happy — but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.
Step 1: Get Happy Yourself
The first step to happier kids is, ironically, a little bit selfish. How happy you are affects how happy and successful your kids are — dramatically.
Because laughter is contagious, hang out with friends or family members who are likely to be laughing themselves. Their laughter will get you laughing too, although it doesn’t even need to in order to lighten your mood. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves.
Step 2: Teach Them To Build Relationships
Nobody denies learning about relationships is important — but how many parents actually spend the time to teach kids how to relate to others? (Just saying “Hey, knock it off” when kids don’t get along really doesn’t go far in building essential people skills.)
It doesn’t take a lot. It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy. This not only builds essential skills and makes your kids better people, research shows over the long haul it makes them happier.
Step 3: Expect Effort, Not Perfection
Note to perfectionist helicopter parents and Tiger Moms: cool it. Relentlessly banging the achievement drum messes kids up.
The research is very consistent: Praise effort, not natural ability.
“When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look.”
Step 4: Teach Optimism
Want to avoid dealing with a surly teenager? Then teach those pre-teens to look on the bright side.
Author Christine Carter puts it simply: “Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.”
She compares optimists to pessimists and finds optimists:
- Are more successful at school, work and athletics
- Are healthier and live longer
- End up more satisfied with their marriages
- Are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety
Step 5: Teach Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a skill, not an inborn trait.
Thinking kids will just “naturally” come to understand their own emotions (let alone those of others) doesn’t set them up for success.
A simple first step here is to “Empathize, Label and Validate” when they’re struggling with anger or frustration.
Step 6: Form Happiness Habits
Thinking through these methods is taxing but acting habitually is easy, once habits have been established.
How do you help kids build lasting happiness habits?
- Stimulus removal: Get distractions and temptations out of the way.
- Make It Public: Establish goals to increase social support — and social pressure.
- One Goal At A Time: Too many goals overwhelms willpower, especially for kids. Solidify one habit before adding another.
- Keep At It: Don’t expect perfection immediately. It takes time. There will be relapses. That’s normal. Keep reinforcing.
Step 7: Teach Self-Discipline
Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence — or most anything else, for that matter.Yes, it’s that famous marshmallow test all over again. Kids who better resisted temptation went on to much better lives years later and were happier.
What’s a good way to start teaching self-discipline?
Help kids learn to distract themselves from temptation.
One way to do it is to obscure the temptation–to physically cover up the tempting marshmallow. When a reward is covered up, 75 percent of kids in one study were able to wait a full fifteen minutes for the second marshmallow; none of the kids was able to wait this long when the reward was visible.
Step 8: More Playtime
Getting kids to do outdoor play regularly works well. Playtime isn’t just goofing off. It’s essential to helping kids grow and learn.
Step 9: Rig Their Environment For Happiness
We don’t like to admit it, but we’re all very much influenced by our environment – often more than we realize.Your efforts will be constrained by time and effort, while context affects us (and children) constantly.What’s a simple way to better control a child’s surroundings and let your deliberate happiness efforts have maximum effect? Less TV.
…research demonstrates a strong link between happiness and not watching television. Sociologists show that happier people tend to watch considerably less television than unhappy people. We don’t know whether TV makes people unhappy, or if already unhappy people watch more TV. But we do know that there are a lot of activities that will help our kids develop into happy, well-adjusted individuals. If our kids are watching TV, they aren’t doing those things that could be making them happier in the long run.
Step 10: Eat Dinner Together
Sometimes all science does is validate those things our grandparents knew all along. Yes, family dinner matters.This simple tradition helps mold better kids and makes them happier too.
Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis are more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They got better grades. they have fewer depressive symptoms, particularly among adolescent girls. And they are less likely to become obese or have an eating disorder. Family dinners even trump reading to your kids in terms of preparing them for school. And these associations hold even after researchers control for family connectedness…
source : time.com