Raising Happy Kids
By Dana Daymude, OTR/L
Ask any parent what they want for their children and more than likely the response would be “I want my child to be healthy and happy.” Our children’s physical and emotional well-being is extremely important. Raising happy kids will pave the way for a more successful life. But how do you go about raising your kids to be happy in today’s world? Here are a few tips.
- Practice Gratitude and Optimism: Teaching a child to say please and thank you is great, but for our children to learn genuine gratitude, it needs to be modeled. You can model gratitude by expressing thanks to others in front of your child and by directly thanking your child. Create opportunities to discuss what you are grateful for with your child. Teach your children the power of positivity and optimism; to look on the bright side even when its gray and gloomy. The more you model these behaviors, the more your children will learn and follow.
- Teach self-discipline: Sneaking a piece of chocolate or skipping practice or homework to hang with friends can give your child pleasure. However, allowing your child to cut corners on a regular basis can establish unhealthy habits. How do you teach self-control? Start small. Try keeping electronics in a common area instead of the bedroom. This can reduce the temptation to get on the phone or lap top when doing homework or trying to go to sleep. Try filling the pantry and fridge with healthy snack options, limiting that sweet tooth temptation.
- Assign Chores: Chores can teach children valuable life lessons such as responsibility, a sense of accomplishment, community service, and connection. Children as young as 3 years old can begin participating in chores. You can use a sticker chart, reward them, or give allowance for their help.
- Eat Dinner Together: Families are so busy with sports, extra curriculars, school, and work that dinners together are often placed on the back burner. Family meals can improve mood, help develop good eating habits, and promote family connection. Don’t stress if you can’t do this every night. A few nights a week can be extremely beneficial.
- Exercise together: Whether it’s a stroll around the neighborhood, a game of touch football, or bike riding, exercising together improves mood, aides in bonding, and provides a lifetime of memories.
- Expect effort, not perfection: We know that children will not always jump at the idea of practicing the piano or studying hours for a chemistry test, but studies have shown that children who strive to do hard things live happier lives. Children will work hard on a task when they know that will be praised for their effort and work. The key is making expectations achievable. Do not expect perfection. If goals are set too high, your child may not succeed and are more likely to give up.
Providing your child with a loving environment where they can grow, learn, and be successful is key! Have fun!
https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-raise-happy-kids-4176629 – Amy Morin, CSW
https://time.com/35496 – Eric Baker