As parents, the most important thing to us is our children’s health and happiness. These two things are intrinsically tied to each other.
Ever since the first moment I held my babies, I’ve been thinking about how to raise a happy child in the best way. There are numerous factors that contribute to their overall well-being and contentment. Happiness is an indicator of a healthy and vibrant childhood, and will affect them as they grow up and take on the world.
Parents always stress out that they are doing the wrong thing, not involved enough, or not pointing their kids in the right direction. There’s no specific right or wrong way to raise a child but there are a couple of things you can do to ensure they grow up to be happy and vibrant children. We have to strike a gentle balance with them and cultivate a nourishing and supportive environment.
The author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, Dr. Christine Carter, discusses how positive psychology shows that happiness arises from experiencing a variety of mixed positive emotions. These emotions include gratitude, optimism, and confidence. We should try to instill these positive values in our children so they can have a joyful outlook on life.
This might all seem very abstract, but these are the foundational concepts you want to base the method of how you raise your kids on. In practice, it means finding the right balance between coddling and spoiling your child and being too controlling and traditional.
Granting your child all their wishes and shielding them from the rough realities of the world won’t help them be strong and resilient adults later. At the same time, being too strict and emphasizing discipline can scar your children emotionally. As parents, we have the responsibility to raise happy children who are able to also deal with the harsh realities of our modern world.
Your relationship with your child is much more important in their happiness than any innate disposition. That means it’s essential for you to be happy first. There is a relationship between parents who are depressed or unhappy and their children carrying negative attributes. Our kids learn from us—happy parents mean happy children.
If you’re happy, you’ll be better equipped to take care of your children. Also, you’re your child’s biggest role model—they will learn and pick up your habits. You need to show them what a happy person does and they need to be raised in a positive, happy environment. Show them what proper self-care looks like.
In building a healthy relationship that supports a healthy childhood, it’s imperative that you respect and understand their feelings. Acknowledging their feelings teaches your child how to manage their emotions properly as adults.
Make sure that they’re cognizant that you’re always available for open discussions. Your time is a valuable resource for instilling positive emotions and teaching problem resolution.
Having happy and positive connections in all of their different realms is important. They should have points of positivity at home, at school, and in your community. These positive connections are built through positive experiences.
Have fun with your kids both at home and in the community. Encourage interaction with other children in the neighborhood or at school. Set up regular gatherings and celebrations. A happy community is just as important as a happy family.
Sometimes we focus too much on achievement and success and not enough on letting our kids be kids. Allowing our children to play outside with other children exposes them to new and important feelings.
Playtime allows them to develop meaningful relationships with their friends. It seems like a pretty straightforward thing, but not all parents allot time to teach their kids to connect and build relationships with other people. Isolation is one of the worst things your child can experience.
Urge your kids to practice kindness and gratitude with others while playing. This builds positive relationships and allows your children to learn how to interact with both groups and individuals. They’ll learn how to problem solve and voice their thoughts.
Let them have unstructured playtime every here and there. Give them a break from all the formal practices and let them enjoy being young.
Don’t force happiness and positivity onto your children. Remember that you’re also not perfect and no family is perfect. All families have problems, and all people have bad days. A normal, healthy human being is not happy all the time. We must teach our children that negative emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience.
The key to raising happy children is teaching them to be comfortable with negative feelings. Being able to process these emotions will help them be able to experience things like love and joyfulness.
We all want our children to be happy all the time. But the key to maintaining a healthy lifelong relationship with their emotions is allowing them to experience the full range of human feelings.
It can be tough to see your kids unhappy, angry, or sad. Empathy here is important. Again, let them know that you’re here for them and understand what they’re going through. Normalize feeling negative emotions so they can better process and understand them in relation to happiness and joy.
Don’t worry about shielding your children from all the harsh realities of the world. Let them experience everything fully and deeply. Help them process and understand these feelings instead. This is essential when raising healthy, happy children.
Strike a balance between spoiling and instilling traditional discipline. Provide a nourishing and supportive environment for your child both at home and in the community. Don’t expect perfection and constant happiness all the time. Help your children process their negative emotions so they can appreciate the positive ones such as happiness and love. The key to a happy child is a happy environment.
Focus on helping them build healthy connections that encourage their social and cognitive development. Happiness starts with you. Cultivating a positive home environment gives them the skills to deal with the outside world through a positive lens.
Cristin is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice, and the loving mother of two wonderful children. In her free time, she can often be found in a yoga studio or catching up on her favorite shows.