Putting your own happiness first

Christine Carter, PhD Sociologist & Happiness Expert, shares advice for parents on why it is important that they focus on their own happiness rather than their kids' happiness
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Putting your own happiness first

I think most parents assume that it is better for their kids if they put their kids' happiness first. We often do that. But in fact, if we are worried about our kids happiness, we should probably be worrying about our own happiness, as parents first. There are three really good reasons why we want to do that. The first is that emotions are really contagious, so if we are feeling happy, those emotions are going to transfer to their kids. They are actually going to feel happy. We tend to know this is true around emotions, such as, anger. If we know that someone is really angry next to us, we can feel our heart rate go up. We don't always assume that positive emotions spread too. The other reason is that we just tend to be better parents when we are happy. We are warmer, better listeners, and have better responses to our kids. The third reason is that we are modeling what it takes to lead a happy life. We are showing the kids what is important for their happiness. Kids are more likely to do what we do, rather than what we tell them to do.

Christine Carter, PhD Sociologist & Happiness Expert, shares advice for parents on why it is important that they focus on their own happiness rather than their kids' happiness


Expert Bio

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Christine Carter, PhD

Sociologist & Happiness Expert

A sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog for Greater Good, which is syndicated on the Huffington Post and PsychologyToday.com. Carter has helped thousands of parents find more joy in their parenting while raising happy, successful and resilient kids. Known for her parenting and relationship advice, Carter draws on psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts in action.

After receiving her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, Dr. Carter worked in marketing management and school administration, going on to receive her PhD. in sociology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Carter has been quoted in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Morning Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” and NPR.

Carter has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of events and professional groups. In 2010, she received an award from the Council on Contemporary Families for her outstanding science-based reporting on family issues. In 2011 she won Red Tricycle’s award for the “Most Awesome Parent Education,” and so far in 2012 she has been nominated for a Bammy Award and for an award from the American Sociological Association for public sociology.

Dr. Carter teaches parenting classes online throughout the year to a global audience on raisinghappiness.com. She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.

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