It’s Happiness Happens Month! What is the number one thing parents’ universally want for their children? You guessed it, they want their children to be happy. A study found 64% of parents chose “be happy in life” as their number one pick over healthy lifestyle, financial security, successful careers or fulfill potential for their children.
On a blazing hot summer day a few months back my family and I decided to grab some ice cream to cool off. My son and husband went into Cream to choose their flavors when I noticed a palm reader shop with an open sign in the window. Deciding to forego ice cream I thought it would be a giggle to have my palm read. I sat down face-to-face across from very young woman who said, “Make two wishes, one you tell me and one you keep to yourself.” Want to know what the wish was that I kept to myself? I wished to raise and have a happy family. It was the first thought that popped into my head when I thought about what I really wanted for my son and family: happiness.
How To Raise Happy Kids (Backed By Science)
Everyone has unique happiness-boosters but as parents there are things we can do to cultivate happiness in our children. It’s really no different than teaching our kids how to use their intelligence or strive for success.
- Get Happy Yourself: Kids are sponges and pick-up on the emotional state of their parents and caretakers. How happy you are can dramatically affect how happy your children are. Research found behavioral problems in children are actually caused by parental depression; likely because parental depression makes parenting less effective. Ask yourself: What makes YOU happy? And create time each month for those activities. If anyone asks, just say you’re having a happiness adventure.
- Photos Make Families Happy: Families who have photos on display in their home tend to be more happy. Photos of our loved ones hanging on the walls at home, on our phones, or on display at work act as a reminder of the activities, people and places we love most. My son always says he wants to hang a photo because he wants to remember. But really, it’s because he wants to remember that moment because it makes him happy. (resource)
- Nurture Your Kids: Kids with nurturing moms have 10% bigger brains. A mother’s love physically affects the volume of her child’s hippocampus making it larger. This is the brain region that’s responsible for learning, memory and stress. A bigger brain means a greater capability in children to mitigate stress. Which means they’ll be happier!
- Dad’s Love Impact Kids’ Happiness: Mom’s have the secret sauce in my book, but did you know a study found that a dad’s love was even more important for kids’ wellbeing, happiness and life satisfaction than feeling loved by mom? Dad’s involvement and love directly impacts their child’s happiness.
- Optimism Teaches Happiness: Kids are half as likely to be depressed during puberty when they learn to be optimistic between the ages of 10 – 12 years old. But even younger kids, as young as 5 years old, can understand the benefits of positive thinking to help them feel better. How? By observing their parents react to problems. If parents have sunnier outlooks so will their children. (resource)
- Praise Kids For Their Effort: Children who are praised for their intelligence or abilities, instead of their efforts, have a harder time coping with failure. Focus instead on praising your child for their effort, in doing so it will increase their enjoyment of challenging tasks and they will show more motivation. (resource)
In the spirit of Happiness Happen month what are your favorite things to do with your children that encourages happiness in you and them?