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  • Writer's pictureJenny Edwards

Tips for cultivating happiness in kids

There's a lot of talk about happiness these days. But what does that mean for kids? As parents, we want our children to be happy and healthy as they grow. We also want them to learn how to cultivate happiness themselves, so that they can be happy throughout their lives. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can help your child develop positive habits while they're still at home with you. Here are some tips:

Encourage a sense of play.

Play is an important part of child development, and it's just as important for adults to foster playfulness in children.

Play allows children to explore their creativity and problem-solving skills, which help them develop emotionally. Playful interactions with other people also give kids practice in managing emotions, solving problems, and interacting with others. Encourage your child’s natural sense of fun by letting her play freely without any rules or expectations—and remember that play doesn't always have to be structured. If your child wants to spend the afternoon building a fort out of sheets and furniture cushions instead of practicing math facts on flash cards, let her go at it!

Create a family mission statement.

A family mission statement is a simple way to help guide your family's activity, decisions and attitudes toward living the life you want.

Your mission statement can be about anything you like—it can be about spirituality, finances or physical health. For example: "Our mission is to live a healthy lifestyle." Or: "We will support each other in our dreams." Whatever you choose as your focus for your family goal-setting should reflect something that your entire family values.

Once you've chosen what matters most to you as a parent or guardian of children (or kids themselves), write out your statement in clear terms and post it somewhere visible where everyone will see it daily. Make sure all members of the household participate in creating this document; having everyone involved helps ensure buy-in from all parties involved (which leads us directly into our next tip).

Keep your focus on the big picture.

Focusing on the positive is a great way to help your children develop a positive mindset. If they can see that they are doing well at school, or that they have made friends with their classmates, or even if they have done something nice for someone else—this will build their self-esteem and help them feel good about themselves. By focusing on these kinds of things you can avoid having your child focus on negative things such as past mistakes or failures in school or sports, etc., which may lead to low self-esteem and unhappiness.

Start a family gratitude tradition.

One of the easiest ways to create a better mood in your family is to start a gratitude tradition. Gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and well-being, and it’s certainly a great way to help your entire family feel happier. Try some of these ideas:

  • Start a family journal where everyone writes down three things they are grateful for each day. You can do this individually or as a group activity.

  • Go around the dinner table at dinnertime and have everyone share one thing they are grateful for that day or week. Give each person two minutes or so to share their moment with the family, then move on to the next person if there isn’t time for everyone else's turn yet (or just take turns).

  • Keep track of all those moments by using an app like gratitude journal—it will make it easy for you.

Help them understand the power of love and forgiveness.

  • Learn to let go of grudges. When we hold onto a grudge, it's like an open wound that keeps reopening. As a parent, you can help your child learn the value of forgiveness by letting go of any resentment you feel toward another person.

  • Model how to be forgiving by forgiving yourself when you make mistakes (and when you get upset with yourself). Kids will watch their parents closely—so if they see us making amends for our behavior or trying again after missing a goal or falling down in front of them (which kids will inevitably do), then they'll know that these things are OK too.

  • Practice giving love freely wherever possible: with others in our lives as well as ourselves. Show affectionate behaviors such as hugs or kisses on the forehead whenever possible; give words of encouragement during difficult times instead of criticism; laugh together over silly jokes brought up by friends/family members/TV shows/etcetera.

Model gratitude yourself.

When you are feeling grateful, it is important to keep this in mind. You can model your gratitude by sharing the good things in your life with others. Set a good example for your kids by keeping a gratitude journal yourself. Be specific about what you are grateful for and focus on the positive aspects of life. Be grateful for little things that happen every day, like a kind word from someone or a great meal at home. Even if there seems to be nothing to be happy about at first glance, remember that there will always be something to be thankful for if you look hard enough.

There are ways to nurture happiness in children at home

  • Being positive in your home

  • Not getting angry at your child

  • Teaching your child good behavior and discipline

  • Showing love for your child. Kids need to know they are loved.


I hope that these tips have given you some ideas for cultivating happiness in your home. Remember, though, that the best way to make your kids happy is to focus on making yourself happy. We all need time for ourselves, especially parents.

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