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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

10 Steps to Family Happiness

by Christine Carter

Happier kids are more likely to become successful, accomplished adults. Looking at the science can show what works in raising naturally healthy, happy kids.

Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First. How happy parents are dramatically affects how happy and successful their kids are.

Build a Village. The breadth and depth of our positive relationships with other people is the strongest predictor of human happiness.

Expect Effort and Enjoyment, Not Perfection. Parents that overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with higher levels of depression, anxiety and substance abuse compared to others. Praise effort, not natural ability.

Choose Gratitude, Forgiveness and Optimism. Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two are practically interchangeable. Teach pre-teens to look on the bright side.

 Raise their Emotional Intelligence. It’s a skill, not an inborn trait. Parents can help by empathizing with children facing difficult emotions and helping them identify and label what they are feeling. Let them know that all feelings are okay, even though bad behavior isn’t.

Form Happiness Habits. Turn these happiness skills, plus the positive skills parents already have, into habits.

Teach Self-Discipline. Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence or most anything else good. Start teaching it by helping kids learn ways to distract themselves from temptation.

Enjoy the Present Moment. We can be super-busy and deeply happy at the same time by deeply experiencing the present moment.

Rig their Environment for Happiness. Monitor a child’s surroundings so that the family’s deliberate happiness efforts have maximum effect.

Eat Dinner Together. This simple tradition helps mold better kids and makes them happier too.

 Christine Carter, Ph.D., is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents and The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work (

Present Parent Resources

The Body Book for Boys by Rebecca Paley, Grace Norwich and Jonathan Mar

The Care and Keeping of You: the Body Book for Younger Girls by Valorie Schaefer

The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls by Cara Natterson

Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge and Change by Armin Brott

Holistic Mom’s Network

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

The New Puberty by Louise Greenspan, M.D., and Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D.

Parenting the Lefkoe Way

Parenting with Presence by Susan Stiffelman

Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents  by Christine Carter

May 2020



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