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Teaching your kids to be happy

BY TAMARA RAJAKARIAR. Mercatornet

Let’s face it – kids are meant to be happy and full of life, but all too often these days we come across little ones that are sulky, moody, and just keen to get back on their mum’s iPad. Not ideal! So when I came across this Time article about happiness, I thought it had some good ideas that could be worth taking on and instilling in your children. There are the usual ones like learning to give, but here are a few more:

Gratitude

Teaching your kids to say a simple “thank you” might just seem like teaching manners, but you’re actually teaching happiness. Why? Because people who are grateful and appreciative are a lot happier – they see the good in life, it’ll help to improve their relationships, and they learn to make life better for the people around them.

Play to your strengths

Doing what you’re good at is bound to increase happy thoughts because of the resulting feelings of satisfaction and healthy pride. So it makes sense to encourage the unique talents of your child, even if it’s not the talent you may have wanted for them. She prefers basketball to ballet? Support her in developing that strength.

Develop good relationships

Research shows that the happiest people spend time with the people they care about and have solid relationships. I think that the first way to develop this in a child would be with the example of your relationship with them – spending quality time and talking, and getting them included when you’re socialising with family and friends (instead of staying locked away in their room).

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Happy Expectant Dads = Happier Kids

By Meg Meeker

A new study published this week in the journalPediatrics found that the mental health of expectant fathers is important to the happiness and well-being of their babies. We have long known that the emotional health of expectant mothers has a profound effect on babies, but now we know that a dad’s mood affects babies too.

The study looked at over 30,000 children from Norway and followed them from their mother’s pregnancy into their third year of life. When the mothers were 17 or 18 weeks pregnant, fathers were asked to fill out a form describing their stress levels and in particular, their levels of anxiety and depression.

After the children were born, the researchers followed the children’s behavior and emotional health. When the children were three years old, the researchers found that the paternal psychological stress was significantly associated with a child’s behavioral and emotional difficulties in addition to their social functioning. The children whose fathers were less stressed had fewer behavior problems than those whose fathers struggled with anxiety and depression. This finding is very important because it shows us once again how critically important the role of a father is on his child’s psychological health.

This is important for us mothers to know. Far too often we feel that we alone are responsible for our child’s happiness. During pregnancy we try to eat right, get enough sleep, stay away from alcohol, etc., but it’s nice to know that our child’s father affects child’s behavior in a huge way, too. Common sense tells us that a father’s mood affects many things about our kids, and it’s nice to see this spelled out in black and white.

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