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Seven Top Tips for a Happy Family This Week

Two recent articles published online about simple things that make people happy got us thinking here at happychild – what can parents do this week that will help their children feel happiness? We’ve combined the best of both articles (they are hyperlinked below) and come up with a top tips list of simple things parents can do this week to put happiness back on a busy agenda. This is not about chasing happiness, that obscure ideal we think everyone else is enjoying; this is about being open to the happiness that is present to us each and every day, if we choose to accept it.

1. Go Outside
Sounds simple enough, but time and again research tells us that children are spending more time in front of screens and not enough time outdoors. Children are missing out on the benefits of sunlight (the best natural source of vitamin D), physical activity, and unstructured play. Just twenty minutes spent outside each day in good weather (one study finds sun + sea =happiness) is something most families could probably manage, just by re-thinking where and how usual activities occur:

  • Dust off the picnic rug for morning tea time in the garden with your toddler.
  • Share afternoon tea on the back step with your child after school.
  • Turn off the TV and send the kids out to the garden for some free-range play.
  • Walk locally instead of automatically jumping in the car.
  • Take the homework, reader, or assignment outside – fresh air and a new perspective could work wonders!

2. Laugh Together
Have you ever tried not to laugh when others around you have got the giggles? It’s hard, right? That’s because laughter is infectious. It means we can spread happiness and joy just by sharing a laugh. Think about it - do you have a good belly-laugh together with your child, every day?  

  • Sing a song with a smile on your face – we dare you not to laugh.
  • Ask your child to show you something funny on the internet (oh, they know), then sit and watch it together.
  • Babies and toddlers love a tickle to make them laugh.
  • Preschoolers laugh over silly rhymes, riddles or funny words.
  • For older children, pull out the family album and have a laugh over cute poses or happy memories.

3. Practise Gratitude
This is a strategy that can serve your child for their lifetime – being able to find and express gratitude, even when times are tough, builds resilience and can affect their perception of seemingly negative situations.

  • Share one good thing that happened each day. What was good about it? How did you feel? How could you repeat it?
  • Ask your child to reflect on an undesirable situation. Don’t reject the unhappy feelings, but notice them, label them. What did they learn from  the experience? How will having this lesson help them in the future?
  • Notice the spontaneous thank yous from your child – tell them you appreciate their gratitude.
  • Appreciate the natural world together - notice the feeling of sun on your back, the breeze playing with the scattered leaves, the colours of the setting sun.
  • Finish the day at bedtime by asking them what they are thankful for that day. Make sure you reciprocate by sharing what you feel thankful for.

4. Let them Sleep
Sleep disturbances
have been linked to behavioural, academic, and health  problems. Promoting adequate sleep at night for your child is important for many aspects of their function during the day, as well as their developing brain.

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