We’ve got A LOT going on in the world right now. As a parent, it can sometimes get a little discouraging when we think about our kids growing up.
The thing is, kids are strong and extremely resilient. We could learn a few things from them ;).
In the meantime, while we learn from them, we can teach them a thing or two about happiness. It all comes down to routines, habits, behaviors, and setting the right environment.
Let’s chat about raising happy children.
Show Happiness (and Love)
When it comes to teaching our children happiness, they will definitely be impacted by who they are around the most.
How WE think and feel about the world (our perceptions) comes out in how we talk and react.
We aren’t saying you need to be happy all the time, we are saying that you should focus on things that make you happy. AKA you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Think of how happy you feel after an amazing girl’s night out or a great workout at the gym and how fun and energetic you are with your kids. Now think of the days when you are drained and grumpy and how impatient you get with your kids. Take.care.of.yourself!
Healthy Relationship with Food
Getting your child to eat spinach probably doesn’t make them happy at the moment but in the long run, it will.
Research suggests that eating fruits and vegetables improves mental health and can benefit future well-being.
On top of focusing on a healthy and nutritious diet, take time to eat together as a family. Turn off the tv, gather around the table, and catch up from the day as you eat.
One study at a school found significant improvement in children’s behavior when the cafeteria was updated with round tables so students could eat with peers (as well as teachers) while socializing.
A few ideas to get everyone to eat together is to involve everyone. Have helpers to help cook, set the table, fill up drinks, and clean up.
Kids have lots of energy and it needs somewhere to go. Daily exercise doesn’t mean a hardcore workout. It can be things like stretching, going on walks, yoga, or chasing a ball. If you eliminate screen time for one day, you might be surprised to see how much more active your child will be. It will open up time for unstructured playtime.
Daily exercise can also help with:
- Concentration and focus
- Memory and reaction time
- Academic achievement
And so much more.
Have you ever heard the advice that to calm a grumpy child you either get them outside or give them a bath? They both work!
Outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland which is vital for boosting our immune system and making us feel happier :).
It’s also great for sensory skills, social/emotional development, and physical strength.
Make a goal to get outside every single day.
All you need is love… and quality time. A sample of 222 undergraduates was screened for high happiness using a series of assessment filters.
The upper 10% of ‘very happy people’ were considered highly social and had stronger romantic relationships.
What does this mean for your kids? Start ‘em young! Spend time with them reading, playing, singing, dancing, whatever you enjoy doing that doesn’t involve screens.
Set up playdates so your child can interact with other kids and adults! Humans are social creatures. We thrive off of interaction.
Give Them Purpose
Kids LOVE helping. You might think that your kids would be happier without having chores or jobs, but research says otherwise.
Have you ever been rushing out the door and your toddler decides today is the day they want to put on their coat without any help? As we grow older, we become more independent.
Helping your kids to come up with their own goals and “jobs” can help them feel proud when they achieve them.
For younger kids, maybe it’s giving them little chores to help around the house. For older children, maybe it’s helping them find a job.
Involve your kids in your day-to-day life and you’ll be happy to have help with the housework and your child will be happy to help (hopefully) :).
Help Other People
It feels good to help other people (and there are studies to prove it). When you can volunteer, you have the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives (and in your own life).
- Reduces stress: helps us to focus on someone other than ourselves
- Makes you healthier: helps bring out emotions like joy and optimism
- Makes you happier: gives us a sense of purpose and a feeling of satisfaction
And it gives you responsibility and a chance to develop new interests and passions.
Encourage Your Child To Find Their Passion
Have you heard of Gretchen Rubin’s, The Happiness Project? Gretchen has spent her time studying what it takes to be happy and this is what she found: genetics account for 50%, life circumstances 10-20%, and all the rest is up to how we THINK and ACT.
She believes that a person’s passion is their greatest support towards their own happiness. It gives you a reason to keep learning and a goal to master. It gives you purpose (which we talk about above)!
Encourage your child to find something they love. Whether it’s rock collecting, singing, weeding, running, whatever it is, support them in their passion!
So, really, it sounds like happiness comes down to some key habits and behaviors. When we take care of our bodies and minds, we are more likely to be happy. That means things like eating healthy, sleeping enough, exercising daily, volunteering, and finding our purpose.
How we talk to our children about the world around us has a great impact on how they will see the world.
Help your child create daily habits and routines that put them on the path to a happy and healthy life!