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Sep 29

The Science of Raising Happy Kids

Family with young kidsAsk parents what they want most for their kids and you are likely to hear the same thing again and again – I want them to be healthy and happy.

Keeping your kids healthy, whilst not always easy, is at least backed by endless amounts of science. But what about teaching them to be happy? Is that an art form or is there some science behind that too?

“Drawing on what psychology, sociology, and neuroscience have proven about confidence, gratefulness, and optimism, and using her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures as a mom to demonstrate do’s and don’ts in action, Christine Carter, Ph.D, executive director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, boils the process down to 10 simple happiness-inducing steps in her book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.”* Here is what Dr. Carter and the science tells us:

Step 1: Get Happy Yourself

Step 2: Teach Them to Build Relationships

Step 3: Expect Effort, Not Perfection

Step 4: Teach Optimism

Step 5: Teach Emotional Intelligence

Step 6: Form Happiness Habits

Step 7: Teach Self Discipline

Step 8: More Playtime

Step 9: Rig Their Environment for Happiness

Step 10: Eat Dinner Together

Some of these things – like the benefit of eating dinner as a family – we have heard time and time again. But what does “rigging their environment for Happiness” mean? An important finding of the research is that less TV equals greater happiness. So if you use TV as a cheap babysitter, you need to shift your thinking.

It may seem like a lot to get to grips with but forming happiness habits means that you build these approaches into your life and routine so you increasing do not need to think about it – it is just the way you live.

And how your babysitter and nannies live too! Share the science of happiness and the approaches you are using with your babysitter and nannies. It will ensure that your kids’ environment is as consistent as possible.

So get to work now and soon, like Pharrell Williams, your kids can say, “I’m happy!”

*From the jacket cover of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents by Dr. Christine Carter