10 Tips to Raise Happy and Resilient Kids
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Published by MindBodyGreen
Just like us, our children crave happiness and well being. There are fruitful ways to guide our future generation and share highlights on the journey. With care and communication, love and forgiveness, we can help our children blossom into radiant and resilient adults.
Here are my top ten:
1. Say what you mean and mean what you say!
I share loads of positive affirmations and at least one “I love you” to each of my kids every day! I mean it when I say it and I love it when they say it to me. I also mean it when I tell them to treat each other kindly and I’m perfectly comfortable saying I’m disappointed when they don’t. Children need us to be direct and clear communicators. This builds transparency and trust.
2. Actions speak louder than words.
Although what we choose to say is of value, what we actually do is a stronger message. If we want our children to self-regulate their time on screens then we must model this behavior. Also, invite your kids to witness how you make choices for your wellbeing (choosing a protein bar over a snickers) and happiness (beading a necklace instead of snap chatting). Happiness is a choice and children learn this by watching us make choices that bring us joy.
3. We all need rhythm and routine.
Even more than adults, kids need a basic routine at home to follow most days. They need a schedule for bathing, completing homework, bedtime/lights out. At our house, we also have the routine of unstructured time after school where the kids are unplugged from media and are free to bake, play in the woods, read, ride a bike. Having a household routine helps children develop an internal clock which lends stability when life throws a curve ball!
4. Start teaching kitchen confidence and healthy cooking early on.
Feeding ourselves is a primal instinct. Of course small children can’t cook but even they can roll cookie dough into balls (with boundless joy!). As they get older, caretakers can invite children to make their own meals and learn about the kitchen, the pots/pans, how to properly clean up. Practicing kitchen skills gives kids confidence. Tasting, creating, sharing and looking over healthy cookbooks together lays the foundation for a lifetime of good health and is also a great way to remain close to our kids (teens especially).
5. Say NO!
Children need to hear NO! “No more cookies!" "No, it's past your bed time." "No, you have to do your chores first!” I would not suggest saying "no" to a two-year-old (that’s his job) but once your child is out of diapers and for the long haul- hearing "no" builds resilience. Our children will encounter structure as they start school and the adults around them will not treat them as carefully as we do. It's best they get used to hearing "no" in a loving home first, so it’s easier for them out in the world!
6. Say yes to chores!
Even at an early age, children can feel like a contributing member of the family. I don't make a daily list of chores but a weekly household job is great, such as doing laundry or cleaning a bathroom. Daily chores are more personal such as tidy your room, clear your dishes. Contributing to the weekly flow of a "generally" organized home fosters a child’s awareness of her role in sailing the ship successfully. This is a good start for building confidence and understanding responsibility as an adult.
7. Kids need cuddle time.
Every single day a gentle touch, holding hands, big hugs or cuddling by the fire for a story is blissful and healing for everyone! There are also times when a child may need extra care and can easily be rebalanced by a gentle touch on the back or when a caretaker reads them a book in a cozy corner.
8. Teach compassion and forgiveness.
Kids develop compassion and forgiveness in a home where they are treated with these vital qualities. In our home we have a motto, “whatever you have done, you will be forgiven if you tell the truth.” This seems to have encouraged not only telling the truth and saying sorry but also helps us practice compassion and forgiveness. We all accept that mistakes are made and release the attachment to them when we forgive. This is a great process to experience together as a family and is a useful skill as an adult.
9. Create family rituals.
Rituals can originate creatively among family members or can be followed according to cultural/religious tradition. Either way, a brief mealtime prayer is a wonderful way to reconnect after a busy day. After years of saying a prayer before dinner, we found a fun way to reconnect was by holding hands and sending around a squeeze! Kids feel truly joyous when their favorite family rituals replay each week or during holidays and special events. Like the seasons, rituals become a familiar outlet for our joy to be expressed.
10. Support them as they create healthy relationships.
Good relationships begin at home. Caretakers need to initiate an ongoing dialogue with children to explore the qualities of a good friend and how to navigate uncomfortable situations. Staying “up to date” with what's going on in your child's world and who their friends are can be fun and is so important!
We just like our kids are a work in progress and should be patient with ourselves as we navigate parenting which is a great catalyst for growth. The commitments we make as parents will contribute to our children's happiness and resilience!