Raising a happy child – 6 things that every parent should know.
It’s only normal for every parent to want their child to be happy and healthy. However, two in three parents will tell you that they are extremely concerned about the wellbeing of their children, and this feeling of fear knows neither gender, ethnicity, age or income. While there are many topics covering raising healthy kids and smart kids, how does one raise happy kids in the world plagued by the culture of violence, anxiety, and depression? Let’s cut through the nonsense and look into these six tips based on scientific developmental psychology.
Become happy yourself
Ironically, the first step starts with you. How happy you feel about yourself affects your kids’ happiness dramatically. Countless studies have established a strong link between parents, especially mothers who feel depressed and the negative outcomes in their children. Apart from causing behavioural problems in kids, parental depression also makes parenting less effective. The study which concluded that happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children ruled out any genetic component from the relation. So, how can you become happier? First, take some time off each week and spend it with your friends, exercise, or take a course on an interesting subject. Stay in touch with friends and family members who often laugh. Neuroscientist say that hearing other people laughing triggers mirror neurons in our brain, making listeners feel as if they’re laughing themselves.
Effort before perfection
If you’re a perfectionist and a hovering parent, you should cool down a bit, as constant reminding the kids of their achievements and failures can mess them up. Parents who overtly stress the importance of achievements are more likely to raise kids with high levels of anxiety, depressions, and eventually substance abuse. The message is clear – parents should always praise effort before the natural ability. In a related study, the majority of kids who were praised as intelligent didn’t want to lose the ‘smart’ title, so they asked for an easier puzzle. On the contrary, the majority of kids praised for their hard work chose a harder puzzle to solve. Carol Dweck, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, says that if we praise children for the effort and hard work, we’re motivating them to keep on trying, without questioning how smart or not they may look.
Help them build relationships
While most would agree that relationships are important for happy child development, only a few parents actually spend time helping kids relate to others. For example, you can encourage kids to build empathy by making small acts of kindness. While this teaches kids essential people skills, in the long run, it also makes them happier. A study which involved Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, concluded that those who were encouraged to provide unconditional compassion for other MS patients through monthly 15-minute calls showed visible improvement in self-esteem, self-confidence, and fighting depression. For instance, many Australian moms look for a reliable learning centre that provides their kids with the safest, healthiest environment where they can grow and develop. These institutions are reliable, and they have an engaging teaching system that helps kids make friends, learn, and have tons of fun in the process.
Make memories time together
If you look at all the time your kid spends at daycare, in school, at camps, sleeping over at their friends, and generally occupied with activates that don’t include you, the remaining moments suddenly become enormously precious. But, instead of worrying about how much time you’ve used up, focus on turning those days into memorable moments. Although many parents like to compensate for having little time by planning quality time like going to the movies, the zoo, for the meal, etc., in reality, quality moments may occur when we least suspect. One of the best ways to have a ton of random quality moments is to take your kids on a road trip. Even if you don’t have a car, you can find a cheap car rental in your town and plan the route together with your kids.
In many cases, science can only concepts our grandparents knew all the time. Among other things, the simple tradition of a family dining together makes kids happier. Different studies, including a nationwide Thai Cohort Study that involved 39820 people for 8 years, show that kids who eat dinner with their families are more likely to be emotionally stable and less likely to abuse substances. As adolescent girls are concerned, eating together has also been related to having fewer depressive symptoms and eating disorders.
In the age when our environment has become over-digitalized, many parents find it hard to unplug and engage in daily activities with their children. However, nothing can inspire our kids to be happy than us being mindful about what we’re doing and giving them an example of how to relate to others and cope with their feelings.
Teach emotional intelligence
Believing that kids will naturally come to understand their own emotions, as well as those of others, doesn’t really do them any service. Emotional intelligence is a skill that is learned, not a trait we’re born with. The first step is helping them empathize, label and validate when they are experiencing anger and frustration. For example, if your kid gets mad at you, you should encourage them to come forward and tell you more about it, for example, why are they disappointed, sad, etc. By doing this, you help them identify what they are feeling, and let them know that feeling is okay, even though bad behaviour might not be.