Raising Happy Kids: How You Can Foster Happiness and Confidence

We all want to raise happy kids.

I always tell my little ones, you can do anything you want in life, as long as you’re happy.

Teaching children true happiness seems like a pipe dream, doesn’t it? Like something you could have hoped for in decades past, but could never even come close to achieving in today’s world. 

The world is just plain mean. Cyber-bullying.  Unrealistic body images. Toxic friendships. Young people today are targeted everywhere they turn.  They are basically on a fast track to becoming depressed and anxious just by being human.

Sadly, suicide is on the rise in young people. It is more important than ever that from a young age we are making our kids’ mental health a priority.

Sometimes, nature takes over and our attempts at nurture end up being futile. Still, it’s important to make the effort.

Keep reading to find out my best parenting tips for keeping your little ones (and big ones) happy.

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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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I am no parenting expert.

I should clarify: I am not a parenting expert.  To be fair, I don’t have some shiny plaque on the wall that says I graduated summa cum laude from Harvard with a degree in psychology or child development. I’ve only been a mom for nearly 4 years. But with one of my children’s birthdays in less than 10 days, I find myself reflecting on parenting in general.  Especially reflecting on the kind of mom I am, and how they’re growing and learning.

This topic is especially weighty for me.  I am a mom who fights a daily struggle with mental illness.  I have it mostly under control, but it creeps just below the surface.  Waiting for one bad tantrum or one past due bed time to come rushing out in waves of irritability and anxiety. 

I spend every day terrified that my children will become like me.  But you know the good thing about that? It makes me more proactive than, possibly, an emotionally normal parent might be. It makes me constantly wonder what I could be doing better.

raising happy kids

How I am raising happy kids

Like I said, not an expert.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, the internet is a wonderful place.  There is so much valuable information at the tips of your fingers. (My friend wrote an amazing blog post recently about common parenting mistakes we all fall prey to, and what you can do instead.) That being said, here are the little things I do DAILY to ensure my kids grow up happy and confident.

I tell them I love them multiple times a day. 

This may not seem like a major thing, but for kids who struggle, just hearing that they are loved can make all the difference in the world. Not only do I tell them I love them, but I show them I love them. Click To Tweet

I snuggle them with they ask for snuggles. I answer their questions, no matter how incessant. Also, I make them a priority. Many times, actions speak louder than words.

I speak words of positivity to them.

I tell them often that I am proud of them, that I’m happy to be their mother, that they are brave, that they are sweet, that they are strong, and that they can do anything. This can literally impact how your child’s brain works, friends! (Click here to read more.)

I encourage them to love one another.

I truly believe that there are few relationships more precious than that of siblings. Every day, I tell my kids to be kind to each other, and hug each other after a fight, and say sorry when they say something hurtful.  Happiness is having positive interpersonal relationships!

happy kids

I respect their boundaries.

I’ll admit, it is so tempting to want to smooch those sweet little cheeks all day long. But I think it is important, no matter what gender your child is, to teach them the power of NO. If I go in for a hug or kiss and they say, No, I have to be respectful of that. There is no law that says that any physical contact is ever required of them. Part of happiness is learning how they want to be treated.

They are going to learn a lot about how adult relationships are supposed to work from the way they are treated as children. If you respect their physical boundaries, they are going to learn that this is the way it is supposed to be between them and their partners in adulthood.

I take cues from them.

Kind of following up on my last point, I make it a point to never impose any sort of pre-conceived notion in their minds about what their life is supposed to be like. I understand that this is a very controversial topic, and it is always my goal to be respectful of other’s viewpoints.  But I will tell you here: I do not (intentionally) impose stereotypical gender roles on them.

I tell them they can do anything, and whether they are interested in cooking, sewing, makeup, cars, sports, video games… Any of that is okay. If they do not want to get married, that is okay. If they do not want to have children, that is okay. I am even learning to stop referring to them as often as “my daughters” or “my girls.” They are my kids.  This may seem drastic, but it is important to me that they never feel trapped in any role or stage of life they might find themselves in.

parenting tips, raising happy kids

Want to learn more? Check out this book: Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting (The Peaceful Parent Series)

Having happy kids is not impossible.

These are just a few things I do that I truly believe will make a difference down the road in their happiness.  At the end of the day, just WANTING to be a better parent is a great step to take. Pair that with knowledge and action, and you are definitely on the right track.

I would love to hear some of your strategies in the comments! Feel free to share them in the comments below, and make sure you share this post with a friend.

Remember: kids are the future. Happy kids will make it as bright as possible.

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Related posts for parenting tips:

Encouraging bodily autonomy in children- Why is it so important?

Using positive affirmations with children

Anxiety in children: Is your child more anxious than normal?

45 thoughts on “Raising Happy Kids: How You Can Foster Happiness and Confidence”

  1. This is great advice! I especially love that you mention taking your cues from them – while children are younger and less experienced, they are still aware of what they want and need in many situations. Sure, you may need to help them learn the difference between the two (want and need) but that starts by recognizing what they are looking for and asking for.

  2. I really connected with this piece! So much of what you do teaches kids respect, and I love that you are aware of and listen to their boundaries. That is such a great way to teach kids to look out and respect each other, especially as they grow. πŸ™‚

  3. I absolutely love this post. I am not a parent yet, but someone who had lived with the trauma of troubled childhood. This is something that also makes me second guess my ability to have a family. I really resonated with your post. Thank you Jen

    1. Thank you for the kind words. But don’t let it make you second guess yourself. The most important quality in a good mom is the desire to be a good one πŸ™‚ Take care and thanks for reading!

  4. Excellent post Jen! As much as I’d love to be a mum, I’m so scared I’ll mess them up. And if I don’t, there are other sources that can. It just scares me so much.

  5. We are leaving home to travel the world for a couple of years and so this topic is constantly on my mind as we prepare to leave. Your post is very helpful, great points for me to remember… thanks for sharing.

  6. Lovely post, There’s no better feeling than seeing that my kids are truly happy. Letting them be who there are (no gender stereotypes) definitely goes along way with helping that.

  7. This is a very cool topic, something that is close to every parents heart. Being a mental health nurse, I have seen kids as young as 7-8 years talking about ‘ being fed up’ or hating life.
    Thank you for this impressive article

  8. This is such a fantastic post. It’s so sad that children can be mean to each other (well, all human beings in general). Thanks for this reminder. Our kids need to be happy and hopefully they will become happy adults.

  9. Pingback: Limiting beliefs- Why you should change the way you talk to your children - Diffusing the Tension

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