5 Ways to Model Happiness for Children

As part of the Life Well Lived Getting Happy panel, I was asked the following question: How do you teach the children in your life happiness?

That’s a pretty deep question. In fact, it makes me answer the question with a question: Can you teach happiness?

happy girlI mean, what is happiness anyway? Ask 5 people around you, and I’m pretty sure they’ll give you 5 different definitions.

Maybe I’m reading into the question too much.

My thought is that you teach happiness by modeling it. While kids are certainly resilient, they’re not going to understand happiness if everyone around them is constantly miserable. Children need to see that you don’t need things to be happy. Even during a bad day, you can find happiness.

You show children that happiness can be achieved in a number of ways. You might accomplish something. That feels pretty good. Or maybe you just smile when everyone else is down.

Here are 5 ways I model happiness for my two boys:

  1. At the end of each day, I ask them about their favorite part of the day. Even if they didn’t have a great day, I point out that there are always good parts of the day. They can always find something positive.
  2. I encourage (fun) breaking of the rules from time to time. We can be too rigid as a society. I see nothing wrong with dancing at the dinner table if a good song is on, even if it does drive Dad nuts.
  3. If I’m having a bad day, I talk about it. We’re only human. As parents, we’re not always going to be pleasant. When I’m particularly crabby, I’ll talk about why I wasn’t happy and how I could have acted in a better way. Kids can’t expect us to be happy all the time, but they can learn how to bounce back from being negative.
  4. I don’t take myself too seriously. Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop and laugh at yourself. Or, let your kids laugh at you.
  5. Spontaneous displays of affection are encouraged. My kids hear my husband and I professing our love for each other all the time. We make it a point to stop and hug each other in my family and remind each other how important each person is to our family. Who doesn’t feel happy when they feel loved?

Those are my 5 ways of modeling happiness for my boys. How do you model happiness?

Go on over to BlogHer and read Dr. Aymee’s steps on helping your kids to understand happiness. (She’s a doctor, so she’s a bit more qualified than me.) Also, there’s a Life Well Lived Sweepstakes that you can enter to win a Kindle Fire. All you have to do is comment about your favorite example of a Life Well Lived Moment with your family. (Have you entered yet? I did.)

 Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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