If you are a parent, chances are you want to know the secret to raising happy kids. Parents want their children to lead fulfilling and happy lives, but just what can you do as a parent to help ensure your child leads the happiest life possible?
Dr. Christine Carter, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley, tells parents to think of happiness as a skill or set of skills that can be learned, rather than as something with which they were born. As you have probably noticed, each baby is born with a certain personality and some actually seem happier than others. This is particularly true when parents are going through phases such as colic or the “terrible twos.” These can make a parent wonder if their children will ever be happy little people, but Dr. Carter explains that happiness is not just a feeling but also a learned skill. Through practice of this skill, your child can become happier.
What types of skills can be practiced when teaching your children happiness? First, teach your children the art of gratitude. You can do this by taking time each night to list the things for which you are thankful. Start this when your child is young. It’s a great bedtime practice to complete just before you turn out the lights. As your children get older, they may want to journal their gratitude. And make sure that you, too, are following the practice of gratitude. Express the things for which you are grateful for whenever you get a chance.
Next, teach compassion for others. It’s important to have children get involved early on with helping those around them. Make sure they show compassion with their siblings and friends. Another suggestion is to volunteer with organizations when your children are old enough. Teaching your children to be compassionate of others is a skill they will take with them into adulthood.
Along with the above skills that can be taught, psychologist and author Madeline Levine tells parents to raise children using the acronym PDF, which stands for:
Children should have PDF every single day regardless of their age. When used together, these three things will help your children grow up healthy and happy. Don’t skimp on the down time as this is the time of the day your children learns to relax and unwind, which is a necessary skill in the art of happiness.
Also, if you want your children to be happy, you need to be happy. Children follow a parent’s lead. So what can you do to ensure your own happiness? Dr. Carter recommends starting by getting enough sleep and exercise. Exercise increases endorphins, which make people feel happier, and being rested will give you a better outlook on the day ahead. Also, as you teach your children to be compassionate and grateful you should follow these practices as they will bring you greater happiness as well.