Raising Happy Kids

Successful parenting means taking the time to understand what our children need to be fulfilled, confident, and happy. Of course, that’s no small task.

Here are 14 guiding principles:

1. First and foremost, recognize the true gravity of your task. Parenting successful, emotionally happy children involves a great deal of important, mindful work – and huge, sweeping swaths of time. The first step is to accept that fact- and to embrace the role of parent as one of the most important roles anyone has ever taken on. 

2. Have a ball. Just because our task is immensely important…that doesn’t mean it can’t also be great, great fun. Life with a family is a magnificent adventure- not simply a hassle filled with laundry and dishes. Remind yourself of this as often as necessary. And when the daily work of parenting starts to feel like drudgery, it’s time to devote a day (or, at the very least, an afternoon) for intense family fun. Get some tickets to a ballgame and relax. 

3. Spend a lot of time with your children. When you do so, children recognize that they are worth lavishing with time, praise, and attention. 

4. Exhibit healthy, successful habits. If you want your kids to be healthy, fit, kind and compassionate, you‘ll need to live that way, too. Treat your mind, body, and soul with the utmost respect. Model caring, kindness, and compassion by working together (as a family) on a volunteer project a few hours a month. 

5. Listen well. Strive to be honest, open, and attentive with your spouse and kids. When your children are speaking, get down on their level, ask questions, and really listen to their point of view. True listening does wonders for your children’s self esteem, and it helps them to grow into good listeners themselves. Minimize social contact with adults who are continually “shushing” the children. 

6. Show your children that you are genuinely interested in them. Make sure to let them know – through your words and behavior – that you care about what they like to do, even if that’s altogether different from what the rest of the family enjoys. Get involved in activities that interest your child. Whatever it is, learn the lingo and sit down to learn from your child. 

7. Try not to criticize, but work with your child on mistakes in a respectful way. Never criticize in front of other adults or children, including siblings. Work to understand their unique point of view. Taking the time to do so sends a message that you accept and trust their decisions and that their opinions are valuable and important. 

8. Don’t label your kids – even when those labels sound harmless. Try not to tell your children that they are shy or overly dramatic or too sensitive. Respect the person whom they are and the adult they are becoming, while respecting all the stages they will grow through to get there. 

9. Choose your battles very carefully, and allow natural consequences to teach the lessons themselves whenever possible.

10. Be accepting of your children’s friends. Encourage your children to invite their friends over. 

11. Be enthusiastic. Make sure your face lights up when your children come near you.

12. Share family stories, whether through a family journal, a scrapbook, or by simply telling one another over and over again about the memories that you treasure. 

13. Read aloud at all ages and stages. Cuddle up under a blanket in the evenings to read silently, each with a different book. Ask your kids to make up stories and tell them aloud – or create illustrated books to share. 

14. Treasure all the generations. Revere the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Show your children that family is something they can count on for their entire lives. 

All this can be distilled into one simple rule: Never let the big picture fade from view. In other words, make sure you have identified your true goal as a parent and live from that frame of mind. For example: My only goal as a parent is to raise happy, kind children who trust themselves and who enjoy peace of mind.

If, this week, they decide to eat Top Ramen every night for dinner and sometimes forget to put their shoes in the closet, so be it.

Enjoy the joyful journey of this tremendous task of parenting. 

You might also like:

7 Tips for Raising Confident Kids
We want our kids to look to the future with more excitement than apprehension; more exhilaration than nervousness. Here are few everyday tips and tools to help you raise your child’s level of confidence.