When we talk about making your children happy today, I don't mean giving them chocolate or letting them stay up an extra half hour. Yes, that makes them happy momentarily.
What I'm talking about is how to make your kids happy for life by helping them develop life-long skills to improve their happiness.
1. Show them the Beauty of the Outdoors
If your children already enjoying playing outside with their friends, encourage them to continue doing so. If your children are not the biggest fans of playing outside, they might need a little more hand-holding! Plan a day to go to an outdoor park and walk together, fish, or do some other outdoor activity.
Nature is essential to our psychological well-being. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress. It increases pleasant feelings and boosts your children's mood. Even a single plant in a room can reduce stress and anxiety, so show your children the magic of being surrounded by many plants.
Nature not only impacts your emotional health, but it also affects your physical well-being by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
Overall, spending time in nature is associated with increases in happiness, positive social interactions, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
2. Limit Screen Time
It might seem like screen time makes your child happier. But a 2018 study published in the journal Emotion found that adolescents who spent less time on their digital devices and more time on non-screen activities were happier.
Of course, screen time has become a part of our daily lives. And banning something altogether makes us crave it more. So it's okay to let children keep their devices, it's just important to limit their time.
You could start by implementing a few screen rules in your house. For example, no screens before your children have finished their homework. Or you could have a certain limit on how long your child can be on a screen each day. You could also make your children earn their screen time with chores, or have screen-free zones, such as a restaurant.
Of course, the most important aspect is that you practice what you preach. If you're constantly yelling at your kids to get off their screens, but you are always on your phone, they're not going to take you seriously! Your kids watch you and model your behavior!
3. Exercise Together
Exercise can make everyone in the family happier, no matter what type of exercise it is. Exercise floods your body with dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, all of which are mood stabilizers. They boost your mood and help you feel happy!
Exercising also lowers anxiety, depression, and feelings of stress. It boosts your energy while you're awake, and helps you get better sleep.
Again, no matter what the exercise is, it can help. Try walking the dog with your children to feel the effects of exercise. If you don't like exercising too much, do it for your kids! It's possible that you were never raised with the habit of exercising, and you can change that for your children!
You Model Happiness to your Children!
If you're not happy, try implementing some of these practices into your life, and model them for your children. These habits take repetition to truly and meaningfully impact you and your children's mental well-being.
"There is no happiness without action." — William James