Monday, October 28, 2013

7 Tips to Having Happier Kids

Thank you Jodi Hutchings Photography for this Happy Picture!
Aside from tempting my children with Oodles of Candy (which I don't believe in...okay some days I do believe in it), it's hard to help my kids be happy. There is a long list of why this is so. School is too long, too much homework, they have to have assigned seats on the bus, they never get to play with their friends, there siblings ruin all their stuff, they hate what is for dinner, they are never appreciated enough, they always need more stuff, etc. You get the picture? I wonder to myself, why does their happiness have to depend on what they feel they are entitled to. What is wrong here?What am I doing wrong? Sometimes I wonder if my children are ever happy.

We spend a lot of time-with our kids-problem solving, cheering up, helping them learn to say sorry, and basically teaching our kids that you can be happy doing almost anything. Which I believe is true, but I think there are specific things that as parents we can do to inspire that happiness. What is it that makes our kids happy?

Teach them to work and work with them-Once my kids come to terms with the unfairness of having to clean out the dishwasher or vacuum the floor, the real problem comes when they feel like they are doing it alone. I'm more of a divide and conquer person myself, that is until I'm the only one who is dividing and conquering. At which point I start mumbling under my breath about how unappreciated I am, I have to do everything, everyone else is just so selfish, or I'm just too tired to manage this on my own. This is often how our kids feel. Having to work alone makes the job seem overwhelming, but when someone is helping, suddenly things are manageable and the work can become fun.

Give them attention- I like to compare this one to how I feel when I get my husband's attention. When I feel like I have my husband's attention, I feel like I'm important to him, worth his time, and loved, which in turn makes me feel happier. Our children feel the same way. Giving them our attention gives them reassurance that they are important and it helps them be happier.

Encourage them to try new things, hard things- This is important because when children do new things or hard things and succeed they gain confidence in themselves, and that confidence brings them happiness. If they fail and sometimes they will, teach them, and encourage them to try again.

Get rid of stuff- Teach them now that happiness is not due to an accumulation of stuff. In fact often having too many things to care for can impede their happiness. Why? Because they cannot have the peace of cleanliness, they have to spend so much of their time cleaning, and because things cannot give love or lasting happiness.

Teach them the importance of being Honest- Anytime our children live in or with a lie of any sort it will eat at them. It will munch at their happiness, day and night until they rectify their wrong. Even if they try to burry it inside, it will affect them. Any time someone goes against what they know is right, it's hard for them to exist happily in their own skin.

Help them find opportunities to serve- People who give tend to have a happier and grand perspective on life. Serving others teaches people to look outside their own struggles in life and their own problems and it innately brings with it happiness.

Be the example- When you hang out with happy people it's easier to be happy. Obviously none of us are happy at every moment, but when the tough times come, show your children happiness is not a fleeting moment but a way of life. It is found in the choices you make, the people you love, and the attitude you choose. There is always hope and when there is hope there can be happiness.

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