The definition of happiness certainly varies from person to person, but at the heart of this wish, we want our children to experience delight, to feel loved and to love others, and to be strong and resilient in the face of life’s challenges. Here are 10 simple actions we can take to create a positive, safe and happy environment for our children, one that is infused with inspiration, wonder and joy.
Read Aloud Every Day
Reading aloud is one of the easiest and most lasting gifts you can give to your child. From the lilt in your voice to the characters you bring to life, your child will have clear and positive reading experiences from the earliest age. Reading aloud from a variety of genres—news articles, picture books, poetry or novels—will encourage your child to embrace text in all forms.
Keep an Inspiration Journal
Help your child start recording their own story by keeping a written record of her daily inspirations, discoveries, questions and experiences
Music brings emotion and creates community. For babies, lullabies, songs and rhymes are the precursor to lifelong literacy. For older children, songs introduce complex ideas and vocabulary
Be Co-Explorers of the World
Dedicate time every week to learn something new with your child. Not only will this show him how much you value the pursuit of curiosity and learning, it also levels the playing field, allowing you to relate to each other’s struggles and celebrate mutual triumphs along the way
Create a Family Mission Statement
This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss what you value as a family, and to build a strong family narrative that will ground your child when making small and large decisions in her independent life.
Serve Your Community Together
Encourage your children to be community leaders by asking them what they would like to change about their community, and make an action plan outlining what it will take to create this change. Savor the small moments together helping to paint a house, or share books with a child who needs them, or put together a collection of good food to share with someone who is hungry
Food is the glue that binds every family together—it forces us to stop our busy day so that we can take a breath, sit down and enjoy the fulfillment of food and the company of our loved ones. Sitting around the table together isn’t always an option, so create time to be together by making your child an assistant chef
Make Positive Affirmations a Daily Routine
Your child is trying to find her place in this chaotic world. This is not an easy thing to do and is an on-going process even for adults. Help your child navigate her journey by affirming the choices she makes.
9. Express Emotions
Kids need to yell, cry, stomp their feet and run around with excitement. This is how they express their emotions, which is healthy for emotional development and will prevent a lifetime of internalizing negative emotions. Encourage and allow your child to vent and express his emotions in healthy ways.
10. Make Choices
Kids are constantly being told what to do, so giving them the ability to make choices goes a long way toward increasing their happiness. Try letting your child decide what to wear or what to eat (within reason), or give her a few choices for activities and let her decide which one to do.