We want our children to be successful at school, to be respectful and have manners, and to do well on the playing field. But, how do we measure happiness while raising our family?
We tend to measure our successes in objective ways through big life events, like getting a promotion at work or getting married. And studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between success and happiness for adults. However, for children measuring success and happiness isn’t as easy to do.
How to Measure Your Family’s Happiness
Happiness, by its very nature, is a personal experience. Positive Psychology experts study the science of happiness and define subjective well-being as “your evaluations of a) your own life and b) your moods and emotions.”
If what we want most for our children is for them to be happy, then we need to look at both the personal and subjective nature of happiness. This means that parents should understand that it’s not just good grades or a big sports win that contributes to kids’ happiness, but also good emotional health.
Professor Richard Laynard, a happiness expert in the U.K. suggests, “Emotional health in childhood is the key to future happiness.”
Emotional health in children begins at a very early age. Their happiness during development predicts whether they will grow into healthy and happy adults. Yes, success in and out of the classroom plays a role but it is more of a response to happiness than the cause of it.
In order to increase your child’s emotional health, consider the following tips to help you raise a happy child. Remember—each child is different, so these tips may need to be adapted to best meet your child’s needs.
1. Be a happy adult
Our children are always looking to us as an example and if you want to raise healthy and happy children, start by focusing on your own happiness. This doesn’t mean you’ll always be happy—that’s unrealistic. What it does mean is you’ll be modeling positive emotional health for your children.
2. Foster relationships
Your child wants to feel loved, understood and wanted. Helping them learn to foster and maintain relationships with their family, peers, neighbors and community can increase their emotional health. “A connected childhood is the key to happiness,” states Edward Hallowell, M.D., a child psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.
3. Teach emotional intelligence
Refer back to #1! Teach your child what you practice. Empathize, label and validate their emotions and explain to them that a range of emotions are normal and healthy. It’s important to help them identify what their emotions are, validate them as real and help your child understand how to cope with them and express them in a healthy and productive way.
4. Practice gratitude
Gratitude has been consistently shown to have a positive impact on an individual’s happiness. The more mindful and grateful we are of our surroundings, the happier we tend to be. Practice being grateful with your child on a regular basis, both for the big things (i.e., “I’m so happy you’re healthy!”) and for the smaller things (i.e., I’m so grateful that the sun is shining today).
We all want to know that what we’re doing is appreciated, especially children. They’re learning so much every day and working hard at trying to get it right, so when you see them working hard at the things you’ve taught them, tell them! Positive reinforcement for a job well done takes a little time but goes a long way on the road to personal happiness.
This parenting insight was provided by Zift, a digital parenting app and educational resource for modern families.