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Friday, April 24th, 2015
Being happy, raising happy children, and living in a happy environment are all essential factors of a person’s wellbeing, which is why experts across multiple fields came together in 2012 to begin assessing the overall happiness of different places around the world. These experts, who represent a variety of fields like psychology, health and national statistics, have one goal in mind: to shed light on the importance of happiness as a criteria for government policy.
To that end, the third World Happiness Report was published yesterday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). The report analyzes the life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, corruption, and levels of gross domestic product of over 150 countries.
According to this year’s report, these are the top 10 happiest countries:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
It came as no surprise that the Netherlands made list—earlier this year, a study compared the happiness of Dutch babies to that of American babies. Unfortunately, the United States has not yet made an appearance in the top 10, but did rank 11th in the 2012 report and 15th in this year’s report.
Related: 10 Secrets of Happy Moms
While you might not reside in one of the happiest countries on Earth, these countries are a perfect choice for your next family getaway!
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Happy boy via Shutterstock
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Thursday, June 26th, 2014
A Harvard University survey of school-aged kids has found that 80 percent of children believe that their parents care more about happiness and academic and athletic achievement than moral attributes like kindness. The survey collected opinions from 10,000 children from 33 school districts nationwide, and though researchers were not surprised that kids reported parental concern about their happiness, they were taken aback by how strongly children perceive their parents’ attention to be focused on achievement as a priority. More from Today.com:
Students said that achievement was the most important value and thought their peers would agree. More importantly, students reported that their parents appreciated achievement much more than happiness or kindness. They were three times as likely to agree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member.”
This means kids think much less about being nice than they do about getting an A on a test, winning a swim meet, or being best camper. Yet, all this focus on accomplishment doesn’t lead to content kids.
“The achievement pressure can have a bunch of negative results,” says Weissbourd, who is co-director of the Making Caring Common project. “I’m concerned that it makes kids less happy.”
Weissbourd says living up to this standard causes stress and depression and can lead to bad behaviors, such as cheating. Studies have found that 50 percent of students admit to cheating and 75 percent say they have copied someone else’s homework, possibly in an attempt to live up to expectations.
But, teaching children about caring can enrich their lives.
“I think that the irony is that when kids are caring and really able to tune in and take responsibility for other people, they are going to have better relationships,” he says. “And those relationships are probably the most important aspect of happiness.
Image: Straight A’s report card, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 14th, 2014
Taking a toddler shopping may actually help their social, intellectual, and even motor development, according to a new British study. More from The Daily Mail:
The interaction between child and parent while shopping helps young people develop social skills and promotes happiness – even if a bawling toddler shows few signs of it at the time.
According to the joint study by Oxford University and the Open University, shopping trips are just as beneficial for the child’s development as painting or drawing activities.
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The two universities made these conclusions after studying the results of an economic survey in Germany.
This survey looked into the daily routines and habits of 800 parents with two and three-year-olds.
It recorded higher perceived levels of happiness among the children who had taken part in activities such as arts and crafts, and shopping.
Researchers Professor Paul Anand and Dr Laurence Roope added that the more retail therapy the toddlers were exposed to, the happier they seemed to be, and the more developed their everyday skills became.
Shopping may be beneficial because it involves changes of scenery from shop to shop, which improves the child’s motor and social skills more than a sedentary activity, the report continued.
Image: Toddler shopping with father, via Shutterstock
What’s your toddler nutrition IQ?
Monday, October 29th, 2012
The Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee was the site of a fun surprise for patients recently–not something that often happens in the scary environment of a hospital. A group of window washers amazed kids by dressing in superhero costumes which they donned while they clambered up the windows on the outside of the building. ABC News has more:
“The kids always come up to the window and ask us, ‘Are you Spiderman?’” Steve Oszaniec, a 23-year employee of the Chicago-based American National Skyline window cleaning company, told ABCNews.com today. “So I came up with the idea of, ‘Why don’t we just show up as Spiderman?’”
With the plan hatched, Oszaniec, son Danny Oszaniec and their colleague, Jordan Emerson, pitched the idea to their boss, Sean Conley, in the company’s Memphis office and to hospital administrators, who all quickly said yes.
The trio then purchased their costumes – two Spiderman suits and one Captain America – and Oct. 17 turned the hospital into a scene straight out of a comic book.
“We just went there, put them on and went up,” Oszaniec said. “They [hospital staff] brought a lot of the kids to the little family room there so they could see us. It was unbelievable. They just totally forgot they were sick for a minute. They were just ecstatic about it.”
Oszaniec, who describes himself in real-life as “more Captain Old Country than Captain America,” says the dressed-up superheroes also shot silly string as they repelled up and down the 12-story hospital building for four hours to make their Spiderman takeover even more life-like.
Hospital administrators say what Oszaniec and his colleagues did was, all jokes aside, truly heroic.
“It’s a real thing,” hospital spokeswoman Sara Burnett said of the use of out-of-the-box therapies like this one to help kids heal. “When a child’s mind gets off their pain and their sickness, it makes them heal, it makes them relax and it helps them recover and get better quicker.”
Image: Window washer, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
A major new report from The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia is shedding new light on often-asked questions about modern family life–how having children affects happiness levels. The report, “When Baby Makes Three,” is the 2011 edition of the “State of Our Unions” series, an annual examination of marital mores in America. The report considered data from three nationally representative surveys, including a new survey of 1,400 heterosexual married couples ages 18-46.
The main findings of the report, according to its executive summary, are threefold:
- Married parents are more likely than their childless peers to feel their lives have a sense of meaning and purpose.
- Parents who are married generally experience more happiness and less depression than parents who are unmarried.
- Parenthood is typically associated with lower levels of marital happiness.
Additionally, the report finds 10 factors that predict which marriages will succeed in combining parental and marital happiness. Those factors include shared housework, good sex, marital generosity, date nights, and having a college degree, as well as what the report calls “institutional” marital values like shared religious faith, commitment, the support of friends and family, a sound economic foundation provided by a good job, and quality family time.
Taken together, these 10 factors suggest “a hybrid model of married life appears to be the best path to successfully combine marriage and parenthood for today’s parents,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, the report’s lead author, in a statement.
Image: Happy pregnant couple, via Shutterstock.
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