Can an infographic answer the $64,000 question: how to raise happy kids? Happify, a company that focuses on the science of well-being, thinks it can. Believe it or not, I think most will find these discoveries on what makes for a happy child both interesting and surprising.
Tips for Mom
Preschoolers with supportive, nurturing moms were found to have a 10% larger hippocampus in one study. We can all use a larger hippocampus. Your hippocampus plays an important role in memory.
We often think that what matters most to children’s education is their parents’ educational level, income, and employment. You could add the amount of time parents have to spend with their kids to this list of predictors. But surprise, surprise: What might matter even more to developing children’s social and emotional skills is how satisfied mothers feel with their own lives. This might come as a relief for mothers who are struggling to balance their families, their careers, and their own mental health. Now you can take some time to watch a funny movie or grab a bite with a friend, knowing that spending time on yourself is also good for the kids.
Tips for Dad
Love from Dad matters as well. While this is not earth shattering, one study found that feeling loved by Dad was even more important than feeling loved by Mom. Now that is news.
Whether or not other studies back up this finding, it’s clear that dads must step up. Effective dads:
Listen to their kids: Stop broadcasting and listen to what little Johnny has to say!
Set appropriate rules: Make them fair and realistic for kids.
Give the kids freedom: When it makes sense, allow your kids their independence.
Advice for All Parents
Praising your children for their effort is paramount. If all you do is reward results, the As on their report cards, the winning goals, your kids have a harder time coping with failure. Kids praised for their efforts are more likely to be motivated and enjoy challenging tasks.
Encourage generosity, too. Kids who help their friends out or volunteer in the community are happier, not to mention more popular. Sharing between siblings, complimenting a classmate for a success, volunteering at an old folks home are all actions which contribute to well-being.
And attention all parents: How you argue matters. All parents disagree, but how they hash out their differences can have lasting consequences on children. Kids whose parents are hostile are more likely to do worse in school, drink, and do drugs. They’re emotional health suffers, too. But consider this: 80% of kids whose parents divorce or separate turn out just fine. That just goes to show you that, if fighting parents can keep it civil, it won’t likely harm the kids.
Countries with the Happiest Kids
Do you have tips for raising healthy kids? Share them in the comments section below!