How to Raise Happy Kids

Mahatma Gandhi said,

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Eric Barker, it would seem, has been inspired by Gandhi’s wisdom in his science-based article called, How to Raise Happy Kids: 10 Steps Backed by Science.”

Eric Barker is the creator of the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree, and the book of the same name, which presents science-based answers and expert insight on how to be ‘awesome at life’. His work has been mentioned in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, TIME magazine, The Week, and Business Insider.

Barker shows the research backs Gandhi’s assertion that the integrity of who you are as a person is the key to your own happiness. What you think, what you say and what you do have to line up. Furthermore, this means you are the key to your children’s happiness.

Please find the following excerpt of this very good article by Eric Barker.

When you ask parents what they want for their kids, what’s usually the most common reply? They want their children to be happy.

Watch this one-minute clip of the author of “Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents“:

the well-being of children is more important to adults than just about anything else–health care, the well-being of seniors, the cost of living, terrorism, and the war in Iraq. More than two-thirds of adults say they are “extremely concerned” about the well-being of children, and this concern cuts across gender, income, ethnicity, age, and political affiliation.

Now there’s tons of info on raising smart kids and successful kids, but how do you raise happy kids?

Sometimes it’s hard to balance what’s best for children with what makes them happy — but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.

… happiness is a tremendous advantage in a world that emphasizes performance. On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love. They get better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries. They are more likely to get married, and once married, they are more satisfied with their marriage.

So, looking at the science, what really works when it comes to raising happy kids?

Step 1: Get Happy Yourself

The first step to happier kids is, ironically, a little bit selfish.

How happy you are affects how happy and successful your kids are — dramatically.

Extensive research has established a substantial link between mothers who feel depressed and “negative outcomes” in their children, such as acting out and other behavior problems. Parental depression actually seems to cause behavioral problems in kids; it also makes our parenting less effective.

And this is not merely due to genetics.

… although the study did find that happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children, it couldn’t find any genetic component.

So what’s the first step to being a happier you? Take some time each week to have fun with friends.

Because laughter is contagious, hang out with friends or family members who are likely to be laughing themselves. Their laughter will get you laughing too, although it doesn’t even need to in order to lighten your mood. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves.

More scientific methods for increasing your happiness here.

Watch this 22-minute clip of the author of: Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents

Step 2: Teach Them to Build Relationships

Nobody denies learning about relationships is important — but how many parents actually spend the time to teach kids how to relate to others?

(Just saying “Hey, knock it off” when kids don’t get along really doesn’t go far in building essential people skills.)

It doesn’t take a lot. It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy. 

This not only builds essential skills and makes your kids better people, research shows over the long haul it makes them happier.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who were trained to provide compassionate, unconditional positive regard for other MS sufferers through monthly fifteen-minute telephone calls “showed pronounced improvement in self-confidence, self-esteem, depression, and role functioning” over two years. These helpers were especially protected against depression and anxiety.

More on creating good relationships here.

Step 3: Expect Effort, Not Perfection

Note to perfectionist helicopter parents and Tiger Moms: cool it.

Relentlessly banging the achievement drum messes kids up.

Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.

The research is very consistent: Praise effort, not natural ability.

The majority of the kids praised for their intelligence wanted the easier puzzle; they weren’t going to risk making a mistake and losing their status as “smart.” On the other hand, more than 90 percent of growth mind-set-encouraged kids chose a harder puzzle.

Why? Dweck explains:

“When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look.”

More on praising correctly here.

Read the other seven steps to raising happy children at his original article here.

Lovework

Eric Barker is right, as is Dr Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. If you want to raise happy children, you first must become a happier parent. Sort this out and everything else will follow! As the singer said, “Be Happy Don’t Worry.”

Yours for Happy Children,
Warwick Marsh

PS: The Men’s Leadership Summit is happening on the 16-18 July 2021. What a great time to learn how to raise happy kids. Happiness must start with you. Making more good friends will make you happy. This will then help your children be happier. Check out the promo video here.

Check out the brochure here, book your spot here and take advantage of the early bird price.

Find more in News & Info.

[Photo by Mark Stosberg on Unsplash]

By |2021-05-24T10:32:35+10:00May 23rd, 2021|Children, Dads, Families|0 Comments

About the Author:

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.

Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”

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