A warm welcome to guest blogger, Mike Ferry! Known as “The Happy Teacher,” Mike is a 14-year veteran middle school history teacher, father of four, and author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation. His passion is to help kids form habits for happiness, creativity, and success in life. Mike’s work has been featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Newsmax, CBS 6 Richmond, and radio shows and podcasts around the world.
How to Teach Happiness to Your Kids
If you’re like most parents, you want your kids to find happiness in life more than anything else. Despite all the craziness of growing up (chores, sports practices, piano recitals, science projects, sibling rivalry, and so on) we all want our kids to ultimately have adulthoods of meaning, purpose, and low stress. Is there anything we can do to help our kids achieve this outcome, or do we have to simply hope that happiness will descend from the heavens?
I’m a longtime middle school teacher, father of four, and author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation. I’m also a big believer in teaching happiness habits to kids to get them on track for less stress and more success in school and life. By introducing a few simple changes at home, parents can make lifelong happiness attainable for our children. Also, teaching happiness is more important now than ever, with teen anxiety and depression at all time highs. Plus, we make ourselves happier and less stressed when we teach happiness habits to our kids. It’s a win-win!
Here are my top tips for teaching happiness to kids:
- Build a gratitude wall. Since gratitude makes us happier and healthier, it’s a good idea to encourage kids to spend more time being grateful. Even if your kid is “wired to whine,” he can get better at gratitude with practice. Try making a gratitude wall with Post-It notes. Every day, write down or draw a picture of two things for which you’re grateful. Do this in the kitchen or another room where you spend a lot of time. This way you’ll be reminded visually of the good things in your life, and you’ll become more grateful as a result.
- Say “screens are dessert.” Want your kids to be happy and healthy? Think S.A.D. – “screens are dessert.” Research shows that excessive screen time leads to an unsettled and less focused brain. Point out the connection between “diet” and health. Is it OK for your child to eat ice cream and brownies all the time? Of course not! We should think the same way about screen time. Encourage a healthy “main course” of reading and exercise, preferably outside.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor. Since kindness makes us happier and improves the quality of our social connections (an important predictor of emotional well-being), bake some cookies and bring them to a neighbor totally at random. Your kids (especially the younger ones) will love helping out in the kitchen. They will probably want to do this again and again, especially if they can sample some cookies along the way!
- Create something. People who spend a lot of time being creative tend to be happier and less stressed. Encourage your child to use her imagination to create short stories, skits with neighborhood kids, silly songs, and works of art. Building a fort in the woods is a wonderful way to bond with friends while being creative.
- Be curious. We’re happier when we’re learning new things and growing as people. Plus, the more you learn, the more creative you become. Pick a different state (or country) each week and try to learn as much as you can about it. You can include aspects of culture such as food, music, dance, and sports in meals and other family activities.
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.
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