I am frequently asked if I have suggestions for raising happy kids. A valid question and at times, I think we underestimate our own internal control in doing so. Happy kids are the result of happy parents. So, the question is more, how can one be a happy person and as a result, a happier parent, to raise happy kids? Here are a few tips:
Be an intentionally happy parent
The Association for Psychological Science published a study How Do Simple Positive Activities Increase Well-Being? In part, the result was this: Theory and research suggest that people can increase their happiness through simple intentional positive activities, such as expressing gratitude or practicing kindness. Investigators have recently begun to study the optimal conditions under which positive activities increase happiness and the mechanisms by which these effects work. According to our positive-activity model, features of positive activities (e.g., their dosage and variety), features of persons (e.g., their motivation and effort), and person-activity fit moderate the effect of positive activities on well-being.
So, as a happy person yourself, you are more likely to cultivate happy kids as children will follow your behavior, attitude and beliefs. Much like the cycle of abuse, anger and bullying, being happy and living in a happy, content way, will contribute to raising happy kids. As you become a role model of happiness, your influence spreads to others without even realizing it.
Master the art of meaningful actions
As parents, we look to rainy-day activities and weekend time-fillers as simply one-dimensional activities that stay within the walls of our homes. While it would be simple to say “volunteer” or “give back,” parents can teach their children to go a different route. A meaningful action could include making an art project, craft, or painting for children in foster homes, hospitals or shelter. Or, they could color a few pictures and then pick up a coloring book and crayons from the dollar store and bring them to a child in need, resulting in.. more happy kids! For many, the thoughts of doing well by doing good peak during the holiday season; children should be reminded that helping others is a year-round action.
Related read: Helping Your Kids Set SMART Goals
Kids who better resisted temptation went on to have much better lives years later and were happier. Many will remember the kids and the plate-of cookies -challenge or the Stanford marshmallow test in which kids are challenged to resist temptation. That research test didn’t finish there however. Researchers continued to study the development of the children into adolescents. They found that those children that were able to delay gratification were psychologically better adjusted, more dependable persons, more self-motivated, and as high school students, scored significantly better with grades.
With the latest study conducted on these exact same participants in 2011, the research has shown that the characteristic has remained with the individuals. Delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful and happy people.
As you have read, by setting the example as a parent, your child learns to control impulses, adopt patience and savor the long-awaited rewards, whether that is a toy, a trip, a play date or a treat.
What are you doing to raise happy kids? Send us a note, we would love to hear from you and possibly share your story.
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