If you want to know the secret to having happy children, you’ve come to the right place!
As parents, we all start off with the best of intentions. We aspire to be better moms and dads than our own parents were, with plans to raise happy, confident, strong children who go off to do great things in the world. And while I’d argued that most of us are doing just fine with our parenting skills thankyouverymuch, there’s always a new theory or approach to child-rearing that promises to help us do better by our kids.
Whether you’re the parent of toddlers, school-aged kids, tweens, or teens, we’re excited to teach you how to raise happy kids that grow up to be happy adults!
How to Raise Happy Kids
1) Be a positive role model
It’s no secret that our children watch our every move, so if you want to know how to raise happy kids, it only makes sense that you need to model that behavior yourself. Of course, this goes above and beyond smiling, laughing, and having a positive mindset. It also means sharing your fears and failures with your child, showing him or her how you use constructive criticism to better yourself, replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk, and engaging in regular self-care. Remember to be the change you want to see in your child, even if it pushes you outside your comfort zone.
2) Keep a daily gratitude list
Another great tip for those who want to know how to raise happy kids is to get them into the habit of writing down 3-5 things they’re grateful for each day. If this isn’t something you’re already doing yourself, it can take some getting used to, but try to remember that a daily gratitude list doesn’t have to be filled with huge and awesome things. Things like a yummy family breakfast, a fun playdate at the park, or a good mark on a school project are all great ideas your child can include on his or her gratitude list. The idea is to teach your children to search for the positives instead of the negatives.
If you’re looking for a guided gratitude journal, I highly recommend The Five-Minute Journal. It’s a simple yet powerful tool you can use to train your brain to start and end each day with feelings of gratitude so you can learn how to be a happy and positive person. It only takes 5 minutes to complete and it is also available for kids, so you can purchase a set for the entire family and make it a ritual you complete together.
3) Assign age-appropriate chores
When I first started to consider assigning age appropriate chores to my own daughter, my initial fear was that it would have a negative impact on our relationship. I envisioned myself nagging and reminding her to complete her responsibilities each day, and that the resulting power struggles would leave the 2 of us frustrated and irritable. This was the experience I had with my own mother, but as I started researching chore charts and the benefits of rewarding kids for helping out around the house, I realized that the issue with my own childhood had nothing to do with being given responsibility, and everything to do with the fact that my mom didn’t choose age appropriate chores for me.
As it turns out, assigning your child household chores can actually strengthen your relationship. When you empower your child, give him or her more accountability, and teach him or her important life skills, you simultaneously show your child that you trust them and that they are a contributing part of the family, which helps boost their self-esteem.
4) Teach self-control
Teaching children self-control is one of the most important things a parent can do for their kids. Some studies suggest that a child’s level of self-discipline at a young age can predict how successful – and happy – he or she will be later in life, and while some might argue against such findings, the facts remain the same: if you take the time to teach your child strategies for self-control now, you will be setting him or her up for long-term success at school, work, in his or her personal life, and beyond.
From managing impulsive behavior, resisting distractions, and learning the art of delayed gratification, to regulating emotions in the face of conflict and feelings of discomfort, self-regulatory behavior is key to success in all areas of our lives. And since children with poor self-control tend to exhibit more behavioral problems than their self-disciplined peers, teaching children self-control is more important than parents might think.
We’re written an entire post about how to teach kids self-control, which you can read HERE.
5) Don’t expect perfection
As much as we want our children to excel and achieve great things, there’s a fine balance between encouraging them and pushing them too far. There is nothing wrong with setting expectations for your child’s behavior and academic performance, but be sure they are aligned with his or her capabilities, remember to reward effort over results, and refrain from comparing your little one to others.
6) Spend quality time together
If you want to know how to raise happy kids, spending quality time with them probably sounds like a no-brainer, and yet this is an area where many parents fall down. We live in a day and age where we are encouraged to over-schedule ourselves and our children as much as we can, leaving us feeling as though we have little to no time to connect with one another. But that’s actually not true!
Spending quality time with your children doesn’t need to be an Olympic event. You don’t need to pull out all of your board games, put a 1,500-piece puzzle together, or play dress-up in order to connect with your kids. There are tons of ways you can spend one-on-one time together, many of which take minimal time to setup and cost absolutely nothing. CLICK HERE for 25 ideas to inspire you!
7) Encourage regular self-care
Taking care of our own physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being can help reduce emotional issues like stress, anxiety, and depression as well as the physical reactions they create, leaving us with more energy and motivation, and making us better able to handle the challenges life throws at us. There’s been a huge shift in recent years when it comes to encouraging self-care among adults, and it’s time we take it a step further and teach these practices to our children so they grow up with a good balance in all areas of their lives.
8) Allow them to fail
Another great tip for those who want to know how to raise happy kids is to allow them to make mistakes and help them see the lessons they learn along the way. As tempting as it is to protect our children from failure, life isn’t perfect and it’s important our children feel confident and comfortable putting themselves out there. We want our children to view setbacks as learning opportunities to help them grow, develop, and move forward, and while it can be difficult watching our little ones fail, teaching them how to cope with adversity will serve them much better in the long run.
9) Celebrate emotions
My final tip to help you learn how to raise happy kids is to teach your children about emotions, and celebrate them when they occur. There is no shame in feeling angry, sad, resentful, or jealous. These are normal human emotions that everyone experiences over and over again, and instead of punishing our children for feeling these things, we need to teach them appropriate coping skills. CLICK HERE for more information on how to teach appropriate self-regulation to kids, along with some super fun zones of regulation activities!
If you’re trying to figure out how to raise happy kids, I hope these simple yet effective positive parenting tips prove useful to you. Remember to be a positive role model, to keep your expectations in check, to spend quality time together regularly, to allow your children to contribute, and to help them learn from their failures.