How to Raise Happy Kids

Well-intentioned parents often try to foster happiness by giving their kids pleasurable experiences But many parents wonder, how exactly do you raise happy kids in today’s world? Raising happy kids isn’t about giving them momentary pleasure or immediate gratification. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Happy kids have a skill set that allows them to enjoy long-term happiness in life. They’re able to pass up instant gratification in an effort to reach their goals. You can help your kids develop those skills by adopting healthy, lifelong habits. Here are 5 things kids need most to build a lifetime of self-esteem and confidence. They are:

  1. Connections. Feeling rooted gives children a foundation of security. Children need unconditional love from one or both parents and benefit when they have close ties to their extended family, feel part of their school, and help care for pets.
  2. Play. Make sure your child’s free time isn’t too programmed and regimented. Open-ended play, in which children can invent scenarios and solve problems by themselves, helps them discover their talents and use their own resources.
  3. Practice. When kids find out what they’re good at, they’ll want to do it again and again. But sometimes you may have to do some gentle nudging to ensure that your child sticks to an activity and experiences a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Mastery. From practice comes mastery. When children achieve a skill — whether it’s learning to tie their shoes, play the piano, or build a birdhouse — they’re further motivated to tackle new challenges. And that leads to a can-do attitude.
  5. Recognition. Approval and support from one’s parents, teachers, and peers for a job well done reconnect children to the wider world. When kids think what they do affects their family, classmates, and team, they’re more likely to exhibit moral behavior and, ultimately, to feel good about themselves.

Keep in mind that kids don’t need to be happy all the time. In fact, they need to experience ​uncomfortable emotions too, like sadness, anger, fear, and disappointment.​

There’s no need to cheer your kids up or take action when they’re experiencing uncomfortable emotions. Instead, coach them through it and help them find ways to soothe themselves and cope with their feelings.

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