Many parents believe that raising their children to be happy is the holy grail of successful parenting. All too often, happiness is thought of in fleeting moments, rather than lasting happiness. This lasting happiness is not only more complicated, but also ultimately more rewarding. Believe it or not, it is possible to increase the chance that a child will be happy just by the way that they are raised.
What are the things that will make happy and productive kids grow up into happy and productive adults? It is a byproduct of their emotional health, shaping the child into developing their sense of optimism.
1. Practice Gratitude
Feelings of gratitude are linked to emotional well-being. How would one foster gratitude in children? Many families find it effective to take the time in their day to share with everyone what they are thankful for. This can happen before, during, or after a family meal. The most important thing is to make it a ritual. This will help grow the child’s positive emotions, which will lead to long lasting happiness.
2. Teach them to Share
By encouraging the child to play nice, they will develop empathy for others. When they are very young, demonstrate the behavior you would expect from them. They might not understand the significance now, but this sort of model will reinforce the concept that sharing is something that is expected. When sharing experiences are made fun (like handing out biscuits for dinner), it can make a positive impact.
3. Give Responsibilities
People have a natural need to be needed. The idea behind giving real responsibilities to children is to convey to them that they are making a unique contribution to their family. When this is nurtured from an earlier age, the child will feel more self-worth. Meaningful roles can be filled by children as young as three years old. For example, they may feed the family pets or help set the table for dinner. Aim to pinpoint the specific things (organization, nurturing, etc.) that make them happy, and choose similar roles for them to fill for the home.
4. Allow for Both Success and Failure
Simply put, children will not know the thrill of success unless they have been allowed to risk failure. As adults, we know that there are very few skills that are perfected on the first try. It is only through practice that mastery is achieved. When children experience repeated mastery, they will develop an attitude that is positive, setting the tone for them to approach challenges in the future with optimism and gusto that is essential for a happy life.
5. Nurture Your Own Happiness
Children absorb everything from their parents, so their moods matter significantly. Happy parents have happy kids. One of the best things for your child’s happiness is to nurture your own. Take time doing the things you love. You can even rest and relax doing things you love, like listening to music. For example, you could lineup all of your favorite country songs on repeat. Nurture your own relationships, including the one with your spouse.
6. Praise the Right Things
Self-esteem is linked directly to happiness. When children only hear praise when they achieve something, they will be conditioned to think that this is how to make a parent happy. Only praising specific traits will also harm a child’s self-esteem later in life. Redirect this praise from the result to the effort. Praise the child’s creativity, persistence, and hard work rather than the achievement itself.
7. Foster Connections
Help your child feel connected with friends, family, and neighbors. This will allow them to feel understood, loved, acknowledged, and wanted. Snuggle with them, laugh together, show empathy when they cry, and read to them aloud.