7 Simple Ways To Raise Happy Kids

You ever wish you could go back in time and change some things about your childhood? Or maybe there’s something about the way you were brought up that you wish every kid could experience. A huge part of raising happy kids (in my opinion) is just being aware of how our behavior affects their little souls and being willing to try to make small changes where needed. We don’t need to read a million parenting books, obsess on every little thing we do or give our kids up for adoption to a family who makes home cooked meals and gets their kids into Princeton. We just have to have a sense of humor and loosen the hell up! Oh and these:

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  • Eliminate an Activity 1 of 7
    Eliminate an Activity
    Get rid of one extracurricular activity. Yeah, I said it. Don't be offended but your kids are probably overscheduled. Everyone wants their kids to get a leg up on everyone else's kids. I talk to a lot of parents who seem desperate to figure out what their kid is good at and then get them to work at it —hard. Your heart may be in the right place but even if your kid starts ballet at seven and only does it once a week she can still get great at it later if she really really wants to. Even if you're not training your six-year-old for the Olympics they're still probably doing too much We've heard it before but a lot of us don't listen. Kids need downtime. They need to relax and they need to be bored but most of all, they need to not be in a hurry to get from place to place all the time. Look at everything your kids are doing and if it's more than three big things a week eliminate one.
  • Quit Yelling So Much 2 of 7
    Quit Yelling So Much
    Try to yell 50% less. Unless you are the perfect parent (and then why are you reading this?) you probably yell at your kids sometimes. When I talk to moms and dads (and I did a lot for my TV show Parental Discretion) I found that the number one thing parents feel guilty about is yelling at their kids too much. So rather than turning over a new leaf constantly where you are "never going to yell again" try just reducing it by half. The next time your kids are aggravating you and you are about to yell, ask yourself if they are truly misbehaving or if they are just annoying you. If they are just being annoying, ie: too loud, too rough, too whiney, leave the room for a few minutes instead.
  • Read To Them 3 of 7
    Read To Them
    Read to your kids every night. I say this because I myself had kind of a crap childhood (the way I remember it). There was a lot of chaos and emotional upheaval. But the main fond memory I have is being read stories every night. I think it sort of saved me and gave me something to be thankful for. Reading books every night is a great way to A) instill a love of reading and B) Be fully present with your child and C) Wind down for bedtime. It's a win/win/win.
  • Watch Your Tone With Your Spouse 4 of 7
    Watch Your Tone With Your Spouse
    Yeah, you heard me dumbass! I said to be respectful of your partner! There's no bigger example that kids take into the rest of their lives than how their parents relate to each other. If you live at home with your spouse, be nice! Be friendly. Joke around. Don't be a drill sergeant or speak to them like they are the biggest irritant on the planet. It makes kids feel insecure. I'm not saying you can't argue even in front of the kids but when you aren't arguing, let your kids see how much you love each other and they will feel loved themselves. If you are divorced, when you are with your ex make a giant effort to be civil and even friendly! Don't make your problems your kid's problems to worry about.
  • Work On Your Issues 5 of 7
    Work On Your Issues
    Deal with your issues. Look, I said simple not easy but it is necessary. Kids who grow up with parents who have a major issue have a tough time. It's hard to not put some of your own shit on your kids. I know you know this but now is the time to deal with whatever you have going on once and for all, not later when your kids are grown and have issues of their own. If you grew up with a parent with an eating disorder/body issues, or alcohol or drug or anger issues and now you have them, break the cycle. Get therapy. If you have food issues, get a nutritionist. And try your hardest not to mention weight to your kids. If you have an alcohol problem, reach out and ask for help! If you can't do it for yourself, do it for them.
  • Find Your Own Happiness 6 of 7
    Find Your Own Happiness
    Happy parents make happy kids and the reverse is also true. If you are frustrated with your life and feel that you are making too many sacrifices those feelings will spill over. Kids are like sponges, when you are in a crap mood all the time kids tend to feel it's because of them consequently if you are joyful and fulfilled your kids will feel that as well. Another reason to find your own happiness is so that your kids won't feel the responsibility to make you happy. This is a big load on a child and obviously, even if they try, they can't make you happy. So, get a job (or go back to school) or a hobby (take up swimming or poker) or a lover (kidding) and you will be well on your way to making your kids lives better while you feel better yourself!
  • Accept Your Kids For Who They Are 7 of 7
    Accept Your Kids For Who They Are
    Accept your kids for who they are. Sounds simple right? It is simple! So many of us spend needless time trying to change our child's personality the way we might try to change our spouse's. Instead of spending time making your kid, the one who would rather chase butterflies all day than ever do a lick of math into a kid who is going to get early admission into Harvard, accept that they may have a different path. Is your child willful and stubborn? Instead of trying to force that out of them, work with their personality and find a way to make peace. Our kids are who they are and they will look back on their childhood a lot more fondly if they feel loved and accepted for exactly who they are and not who we wish they were. By the way, lots of times we try to change our kids with the best intentions. We worry that they will get teased or not have the opportunities we want them to have unless they change but trust me, I've done the research on this and our kids are who they are. Our job is just to love them.

(poker picture credit: Dreamstime) (therapy photo credit: Dreamstime)

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