How to Raise Happy Kids: 7 Essential Strategies
The Happy Family Playbook
We often speak of "finding" happiness -- as if it's something we stumble upon, a lucky penny on the sidewalk of life. Actually, it's an emotion over which we have a fair amount of control. Science is confirming what Dorothy had to go to Oz to discover: Happiness is not somewhere over the rainbow. It's right in your own backyard.
In the slides that follow, our experts share the latest research into the mystery of positive vibes, plus easy ways of putting these findings into action every day, from laughing more to plugging in less. The great news is that introducing your kids to happiness habits is a package deal. "It's buy one, get one free. You can't teach these habits without getting happier yourself," says Christine Carter, PhD, author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents and a senior fellow at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. When you all work on it together, "positive emotions are amplified, and the benefits are stronger."
In the process, you'll build strong bonds, which adds to the bliss: "Having close family relationships is a key predictor of overall happiness," says Jeffrey Froh, PsyD, a Hofstra University psychology professor and coauthor of Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character.
At first, you may have to take the lead. But then watch some magic happen. "Kids want to do these things, not because they are Pollyannas, but because it feels so good to them," contends Carter. So are you ready to get happy? Read on for seven proven strategies (and many more tips and activities) for raising upbeat kids and increasing family joy.
Commit Acts of Kindness
Doing a good deed is a win-win. It helps others and adds to the deed-doer's happiness.
LOL -- A Lot
Get serious about getting goofy. Laughing can bring families closer together.
Jump for Joy
An instant happiness lift could be just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Unplug for a While
To lighten the mood, pull the plug and connect with your kids.
Get Into Gratitude
The nicest thing you can give your kids is a deep appreciation for what they already have.
Go Play Outside
Getting active outdoors has proven payoffs for body and mind.
Celebrate Sunny Thinking
With some basic tactics, you can help kids develop an optimistic worldview.