10 Steps to Family Happiness
Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First. How happy parents are dramatically affects how happy and successful their kids are.
Build a Village. The breadth and depth of our positive relationships with other people is the strongest predictor of human happiness. Expect Effort and Enjoyment, Not Perfection. Parents that overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with higher levels of depression, anxiety and substance abuse compared to others. Praise effort, not natural ability.
Choose Gratitude, Forgiveness and Optimism. Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two are practically interchangeable. Teach pre-teens to look on the bright side.
Raise their Emotional Intelligence. It’s a skill, not an inborn trait. Parents can help by empathizing with children facing difficult emotions and helping them identify and label what they are feeling. Let them know that all feelings are okay, even though bad behavior isn’t.
Form Happiness Habits. Turn these happiness skills, plus the positive skills parents already have, into habits.
Teach Self-Discipline. Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence or most anything else good. Start teaching it by helping kids learn ways to distract themselves from temptation.
Enjoy the Present Moment. We can be super-busy and deeply happy at the same time by deeply experiencing the present moment. Rig their Environment for Happiness. Monitor a child’s surroundings so that the family’s deliberate happiness efforts have maximum effect.
Eat Dinner Together. This simple tradition helps mold better kids and makes them happier too.
Christine Carter, Ph.D., is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents and The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work (ChristineCarter.com).