If you’re a parent you’ve probably lost count of how many heart palpitations you’ve have had reminding your children to ‘brush your teeth, put your shoes on and GET IN THE CAR!’
Regardless of how crazy they make us, there’s no denying it. If there’ one thing we all want for our children – it’s for them to be happy.
Feeling both positive and negative emotions is a natural part of life. It can be tricky to balance what is good for your kids versus what makes them happy without having your toddler staying up until midnight, watching cartoons with a bowl of ice cream on their lap!
So how can we create a happy home where our children will thrive? Here’s 5 secrets to raising happy kids, from a Mumma who’s raised her two children to (almost) adulthood! They’re still our babies, forever, though, right?!
Are happy kids more successful?
We all want our kids to be happy and successful – whatever that looks like for them. According to Kids Health, children who experience positive emotions are generally happier, healthier, learn better, and get along better with others. Win! Author of the Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, explains in a 2012 Harvard Business Review article, Positive Intelligence – people who cultivate a positive mindset perform better when faced with challenges. He calls this the ‘happiness advantage’
// #1 Secret to raising happy kids: Connect with them
If you’ve been feeling guilty about not spending enough time with your kids, this one’s for you!
Time is the new currency. And you’ll be pleased to know that ‘quality’ time is what matters, not quantity. I get it – life is BUSY!
Sometimes it can feel like you just need a break away from the family so you can to get sh*t done. And it’s important to do this so you can be present with the people you’re with, wherever you are.
Feeling stressed while spending all-important time with your children could actually be worse than not spending the time together at all so try to schedule specific, dedicated family time (using an App like Life Sorted) so you can really be present and enjoy your time together.
// #2 Secret to raising happy kids: Share with them
Okay, so it would be great to be happy 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year but we all know that’s not possible. Being real about the emotions you feel will help your kids understand how to relate to others as well as understand their own emotions.
Positive emotions help us to increase our awareness, as well as improve our attention and memory. As a result, we can absorb more information and understand the correlation between different ideas.
According to Kids Health, when positive emotions open us up to new possibilities, we are able to learn and develop new skills.
This then enables us to do better on tests and tasks. When we demonstrate how happiness is a choice, we can help our children achieve a positive mindset and become more resilient when they go through difficult times.
Check out this popular Ted Talk from Shaun Achor on the Happiness Advantage.
// #3 Secret to raising happy kids: Listen to them
Happiness is largely determined by feeling that what we do matters. We feel happy when we feel valued.
One of the best ways you can contribute positively to your child’s life is by respecting them. You can show your children that their ideas and actions are important very simply – by listening to them.
Including your children in decision-making processes by setting up a weekly ‘family business meeting’ and running your family like a business may help. Allocating ‘real responsibilities’ aka household chores from a young age will help them to develop a sense of self-worth that will contribute to their happiness.
Listening to the needs of your children at various stages of their development will help you raise independent children to who not only look after their own schedule, but are happy humans too!
// #4 Secret to raising happy kids: Inspire them
How to inspire (and motivate!) your children is one of the biggest questions we have as parents – especially as our children evolve (or is it devolve!)… into teenage sloths!
Getting to know what makes your child happy will help you to be able to inspire them to live a balanced and fulfilled life.
Your children will feel empowered to dream big when you nurture their interests, support them to set and achieve goals and monitor and celebrate their milestones.
Having positive peer and adult role models and relationships outside of the family unit is also important so consider the presence of these people in your child’s life.
// #5 Secret to raising happy kids: Praise them
In general, kids don’t like being singled out or made to look or feel different. However, there is one exception. And that’s giving praise!
However, Bob Murray, Ph.D., author of Raising an Optimistic Child: A Proven Plan for Depression-Proofing Young Children—for Life, warns that praising specific traits, such as prettiness, athleticism or intelligence can affect their confidence later in life.
Instead, he recommends parents praise effort over results. For example, praise the creativity, the hard work, the persistence more than the achievement itself.
Helping your child find their own ways to feel happy is the greatest gift you can give them. If there’s one thing we all have in common is that we want our children to be the most balanced, confident, resilient and happiest version of themselves possible!
Hopefully, this list has given you a few ideas to experiment with. Remember that kids – like us – are always evolving and so too are their needs. Be present. Be open. Be you. It’s enough.
P.S I’d love to hear how you go with trying out the ideas from this list. Drop a comment below to let me know how it goes!