What helps a child grow into a happy, content adult? Happiness is the result of strong social emotional health that is built up over time. It starts with meeting your child’s need to be soothed as an infant, helping them manage “big” feelings and by modeling and supporting a sense of hope and optimism as they deal with the challenges and joys of childhood. . How we look at the world and our place in it, influences our degree of contentment. We can encourage our children to be happy.
Model practices which create happiness: positive self-talk, celebrating gratitude, appreciating connections with nature and with family and friends. They learn more from what we do than what we say.
Model healthy habits and self-regulation. Exercise, eating well, self-regulation skills, meditation are all correlated with happiness levels. Encourage your children to find their own tools (listening to music, walking in nature, reading a book).
Happiness can’t be bought. In an effort to sell, media messages try to convince us that the more you have, the happier you will be. As a parent, it takes some intentional work to counteract the message that happiness comes from things you have instead of who you are.
Maintain healthy friendships and help your children navigate the ups and downs of friendships. No one is happy all the time and connecting with other human beings who can see and hear us during tough times creates a rich sense of “I belong and I matter.”
Model and encourage contribution. Research shows that pride in contributing to the betterment of society makes us happier. Find ways for your children to make a positive difference. It can be at school, in your neighborhood or out in the community.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” Fred Rogers
Every teacher has some students who seem eager to lean into challenges or take on new things – and other students who do the opposite. They seem pull away from taking risks and struggle to manage the frustrating feelings that naturally arise when learning new ideas or tasks. Growing the internal capacity to “lean into learning” helps students thrive in school. Here are some ideas: