Giving your kids happy, healthy childhoods could set them up for success in life. Many parents wonder, how to accomplish this in today’s world. I always say, go back to the basics.
Raising happy kids isn’t about giving them momentary pleasure or buying them everything they want. It is actually quite the opposite.
Happy kids have a skill set that allows them to enjoy long-term happiness in life. They’re able to pass up instant gratification in an effort to reach their goals.
You can help your kids develop those skills by adopting healthy, lifelong habits. Here are a few ways to raise happy kids.
Make outdoor play a daily habit. Even when the weather isn’t perfect, encourage your kids to ride their bikes, play with neighborhood kids, and run around in the rain, it is good for them.
Nature can boost your child’s mood, so encourage your child to read a book outside or color while laying on a blanket on the grass to give him an instant boost in happiness.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that children who increased their time playing outside increased their empathy, engagement, and self-control—which are critical social skills.
Your child may think they want to play endless hours of video games to make him happy. But too much screen time is bad for your child’s psychological well-being and can have the opposite effect. Establish clear limits on your child’s screen time. They will be much better off in the long run.
Incorporating gratitude into your everyday lives could help kids become happier, healthier people. Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between forcing a “thank you” and genuinely meaning it.
Teach by example. If you express sincere thanks when you are grateful for someone else, your children do will tend to do the same.
Talk about three things you’re grateful for at the dinner table or talk about what you’re grateful for at bedtime. This will help your children learn to look for things they can be grateful for in their daily lives.
Assigning chores could be a key factor in helping them achieve long-term happiness.
Studies have found that giving kids chores as young as age 3 and 4 was the biggest predictor of long-term success. This could be a simple chore, such as, putting in a new trash bag when you take the trash out, or feeding the family pet, matching socks when doing the laundry, etc. Children like to feel needed and valued.
We are all busy and it can be tempting to grab something on-the-go and eat at different times. But eating as a family might be one of the best things you could if you want to raise happy kids. This is a great time to talk about your child’s day, their friends, and what may be going on in their minds.
One study found that a higher frequency of family meals was strongly associated with positive moods in adolescents. Another study found that teens who eat meals with their families have more positive views of the future.
Family meals may also promote good health. Kids who eat with their parents are less likely to be overweight. Teens who eat dinner with their parents are also less likely to experience substance abuse issues or to exhibit behavior problems.
Buying your child lots of gifts or giving him everything he wants won’t actually make him happy.
Some research indicates that kids who are overindulged are likely to experience feelings of discontent. They may struggle to identify the difference between wants and needs, and they may think happiness comes from material things.
So resist the urge to get your kids everything they want. Instead, give them an opportunity to earn privileges. They’ll appreciate things much more when they’ve had to work hard to get something, rather than having everything handed to them.
Go for a nightly walk or bike ride together or take a Saturday morning hike as a family. Exercise can make everyone in the family happier and sets the tone for a healthy lifestyle.
Challenge everyone in the family to do one act of kindness each day and share what you did over dinner each evening. You may want to pick an organization to help each year and volunteer as a family. My family and I would serve at our local homeless shelter, or put together food baskets around the holidays for families in need. It feels good to help and it helps your children realize how fortunate they actually are.
Kids don’t need to be happy all the time. In fact, they need to experience all emotions, like sadness, anger, fear, and disappointment too. Our job as parents is to help them through tough emotions and help them find ways to soothe themselves and cope with their feelings.
It’s not a reflection of your parenting if they aren’t happy every minute of the day. You are not responsible for your children’s happiness. Instead, it’s up to you to give your children the skills they need to manage their emotions in a healthy way.
The best thing you can do to help raise happy kids is to give them a loving environment. Kids who know they are loved and cared about are more likely to thrive, even when they face tough circumstances in life.