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Research-backed ways of raising happy children

By Judith Mukiri Mwobobia | Aug 25th 2019 | 5 min read

1.  Be a happy parent

Research shows that your level of happiness impacts your child’s. Depressed and sullen parents more often have children with behavioral problems especially at teenage. While there was no confirmed genetic component, the study results were clear that depressed or sullen unhappy parents’ parenting was less effective than their happier counterparts.

So get happy. How can you do that?

a. Do the things that truly make you happy. Hang out with friends whose company you enjoy

b. Listen to music that makes you happy

c.  Exercise. It releases endorphins, AKA  ‘happy’ hormones

2.  Increase playtime

 A study showed that children have over the decades lost time for unstructured playtime. Unstructured playtime enables a child to self-regulate, promote intellectual and social and emotional well-being. These are crucial components for a happy childhood.

Limit the screen time and ensure that whether inside or outside, they have time to play, whether with siblings or toys, the playtime is essential for their well-being.

3.  Teach them how to build healthy relationships

People with good emotional intelligence end up being happier people. This is because they can relate better with people around them. Equipping them with these skills will help them build better relationship. Teach them kindness and empathy; best way to do this is by modeling the virtues and being observant of their behavior.

4. Appreciate the effort, not perfection

Putting great expectations on your children will result into unhappy, insecure and unsure children. Realise that children will be different and do not compare them with their friends or siblings. Appreciate the effort made and teach them the virtue of hard work.

Do not praise a child for their intelligence, rather praise them for the work they put in to achieve this result. Why?

A study showed that praising a child for their natural ability like intelligence was likely to make them not want the tougher/ harder quizzes because they didn’t want to risk losing the praise by failing the quiz. Praising the effort they have put in made them want to really analyse the questions well because they know that putting in the work translated to better results.

Expecting perfection showed an increase in depression and substance abuse among the children.

 5.   Eat dinner together

 Yes, sitting down for a meal together showed that children were more likely to be more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also performed better in school and were less prone to depression.

How not to raise money morons

 1. Assign roles during shopping

Children are surprisingly intuitive and attentive when you take them along with you for your weekly or monthly shopping. Next time you do, tell your child about the item you’re looking for and ask them to find the cheapest one on the shelves.

2.   Concept of scarcity

Children need to understand where money comes from. When children see cash pop out of the ATM, they don’t realise that money is a finite resource. Explain that you work to make money, and the bank is just a place that keeps it safe. I have come across parents that don’t believe that money and finance can be taught from a young age. As a result, even as adults, they and reflect habits of overspending and savings difficulties since they never really understood how fickle financial resources can be.

 3.  Allowances and budgets

The best way to teach your children to start managing money is to give them some. If they blow their allowance on a new video game and don’t have enough left for a DVD they really want, that’s actually a good thing; they’ll have firsthand learning of choices and consequences. Also, let them learn about emergencies. Children will always lose things; a sweater, a toy or an expensive book. If they have a history of being careless, ask them to start saving for such emergencies to help purchase the replacement item.

 4. Delayed gratification

There are also many parents that always give in to their children’s wants and requests. Any toy, game or trend new in the market that’s immediately handed to a child teaches them a lesson that these things have no value, and that there is no priority between wants and needs. Waiting a little while before giving in, or encouraging your child to measure the value of this new toy stimulates a habitual thought process and discourages impulsive buying in the future. Teaching kids delayed gratification will help combat the ‘buy now, pay later’ mentality that could mire then credit card debt later on. So, as much as you can, reinforce the idea that waiting pays off. Curbing impulse buying goes hand in hand with teaching delayed gratification. Lead by example. Before you go shopping, create a shopping list and budget with your child. They’ll learn that planning purchases before you buy is the routine and will help them understand the value of money.

5.   Special rewards

We believe that children shouldn’t be paid for doing regular household chores, such as making their bed or doing the dishes. However, if there is anything special your child does, or takes the initiative to do, like helping you tidy up a room, or perhaps watering your household plants, that would certainly warrant a special reward. If you give them allowances, let them earn them.

6. Differentiation between needs and wants

Teach your children to set goals to save money for things they really want. This forces them to think hard before making impulse purchases that might waste their money. Before your child spends money or asks for you to buy them something, ask them to consider how often they will use it, or where they will put it.

 7.  Sharing is caring

The concept of charity and donation shouldn’t be skipped. Encourage your child to think about someone or something they want to share their money with and why. Donating, whether their money or belongings, to the local animal shelter, or children’s hospital, is a value that should be taught from a young age.

Expert source: Yeisha Hirani, developer of Sekoto, a financial literacy programme

Expert source: Yeisha Hirani, developer of Sekoto, a financial literacy programme

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