How can I make sure that my child grows up to be a happy person? Happiness is not just a feeling but it is a learned skill. Here are a few tips on teaching your child to be happy.
Psychologist and author David Palmiter says to consider gratitude. It’s hard to be happy when you can’t appreciate the good things in life. Teach children about being grateful. One easy way to do this is to go around the table at dinnertime, having each family member say something that they are grateful for. Exemplify this concept by being generous to others and openly grateful to those who are generous with you. Kids who see gratitude and graciousness being modeled for them are more likely to cultivate traits like optimism, a common characteristic of happy and well-balanced people.
Teach kids that happiness is a choice and that if things are bad, they can be changed. Let your kids see you focusing on the positive aspects of a situation. Try not to brood or over-dramatize when things go wrong. Allow your children opportunities to see how fortunate they are. Service to others is a great way for kids to see that they have a lot to be thankful for. Expressing thankfulness is important, too. Have kids write letters to friends and family members telling what they appreciate about those people.
Psychologist and author Lee Hausner advises that parents be careful about how they define “happiness” for their child. Choosing to indulge a child in order to make him or her happy in the moment can ironically lead to profound unhappiness later in life. Kids who are never told “no” tend to grow up with a sense of entitlement and subsequent poor coping skills. If they don’t get what they want from an employer, friend, or spouse they will become unreasonably upset and may struggle with finding genuine happiness in their life. Instead, focus on fostering your child’s sense of confidence and competence. They should feel loved regardless of all else and they should feel that they are inherently good enough to accomplish their goals and to be successful. This should be balanced out by an understanding that disappointments are inevitable, and can be recovered from. To underscore the important role parents play in helping their child to grow up as a person who has the capacity for true happiness, you’ll be as happy as your least happy child.