Tip No.1: First, be happy yourself!
What parent doesn’t want their kids to be happy? The fact that there is a plethora of books on the market around how to raise happy kids – selling in their millions – suggests that the answer to that is a resounding, none!
Indeed, psychiatrist and parenting expert Dr Robin Berman says: “When I give parenting lectures around the country, I always ask the audience: What do you want most for your children? The near-universal response I get is: I just want my kids to be happy”.
However, she feels that this is a misguided desire and to have happy kids, you must first teach them to tolerate being unhappy.
Huh?! How does that work then?
You don’t want unhappy kids. You want your kids to be happy. Unfortunately, no-one can be happy all the time. Indeed, if we were happy all the time, how would we truly recognise that happiness? In the same way that you can’t have the rainbow without the rain, you can’t have true happiness and contentment without knowing what it feels like to not have that.
“Happy kids develop a skill set that allows them to enjoy a lifetime of happiness.”
Raising happy kids isn’t about giving them a moment’s pleasure or immediate reward. In fact, it is just the opposite. Happy kids develop a skill set that allows them to enjoy a lifetime of happiness. They’re able to wait for the gratification in an effort to reach their goals. Remember that sense of achievement you felt when saving up for something you really wanted, as opposed to that sinking feeling when you put the purchase on your credit card and have it looming over you?
Giving your kids happy, healthy childhoods can set them up for long term success in life. But just how exactly do you raise happy kids in today’s world?
We’ve collected a few tips to help your kids develop those skills and adopt healthy, lifelong habits, and we’ll be looking at them in more detail in future blogs. But, before your kids can be happy, you need to be happy yourself, so here is our number one tip.
Tip No.1 – First, be happy yourself!
That may seem to go against our natural inclination, but our children model themselves on us in their earlier years; we are their role models. Therefore, it stands to reason that if we want our kids to be happy then we should first be happy ourselves.
Think about the aircraft safety instructions which state that in an emergency you should put your own oxygen masks on first before putting your child’s on. You can’t help your child with their oxygen mask if you are struggling to breathe yourself.
“If our children see us socialising and mixing with friends, we are showing them how they can go about making friends.”
In their article Happy Parents Make Happy Kids, wife-and-husband psychologists, Carolyn Pape Cowan and Philip Cowan state: “Make yourself a priority. Take breaks for yourself. Find time for friendships”.
If our children see us socialising and mixing with friends, we are showing them how they can go about making friends. They also get to see what positive and healthy friendships should look like.
Family therapist David Code, author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, says: “Families centred on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children”.
Children want their parents to be less stressed and tired, so take some time for yourselves and slow down.
– Focus more on the positives in your life and try to minimise your focus on the negatives.
– Try and spend more time doing the things you enjoy, even if that’s for only 15 minutes a day.
– Spend time with people you like and who make you feel good about yourself.
– Send gifts, or letters if this isn’t financially possible, to family and friends. Making someone else happy has a positive effect on our own happiness.
– Take time to enjoy the little things: a walk in the sunshine, playing with the dog, binge-watching TV, visiting your allotment, or someone else’s if you don’t have one, can all make us feel happier and more content.