After food, clothing, and shelter, there is one thing that parents strive to provide for their child: happiness. Even during infancy we can't wait to get that first smile. It doesn't matter that it's likely due to gas or some other biological function, when we see the lines of that tiny mouth curl, we boast about what a happy baby we have. Of course, we all know they are a bit harder to please as they get older. However, the folks at Happify have figured out "The Science of Raising Happy Kids." It's a guide on how to provide your child with a blissful life and some of the tips may surprise you.
A few things were no brainers, like the fact that kids who feel rejected or unloved by their parents are more likely to be hostile, aggressive, and emotionally unstable. However, there were some really fascinating tidbits about the things we can do to provide our children with good, emotional lives. Take a look.
- Kids with nurturing moms have bigger brains. I might have expected that children with doting moms would be more confident and feel more equipped to face the world, but a bigger brain?! But research shows they have a 10% larger hippocampus (the part that handles stress and memory).
- Daddy time matters most. I was also impressed with the notion that feeling loved by dad is more important to their well-being. Kids with caring fathers were happier. It rated higher than love from mom. (That is both fascinating and a little sad given all the single moms in the world.)
- The formula for the most effective dads. They listen to their kids, have a close relationship with them, set rules, but also give freedom when it’s appropriate. Basically, Ward Cleaver.
- Divorce isn't as devastating as you think. Contrary to what many parents fear, 80% of kids of divorce DON'T go on to have psychological problems. This is proof they are far more resilient than we give them credit for. In fact, if the parents can get over their hatred for one another and be communicative and respectful, the kids will be high achievers and have healthy adult relationships.
- They want a sense of purpose. Believe it or not, kids need meaning to their lives. Even 8-year-olds are happier if they do something of value with their time, like helping a friend, volunteering, or joining a team.
- Keep the glass half-full. Kids who learn to be optimistic by 10 years old are half as likely to be depressed during puberty. Damn. Wish my mom had known this one.
- The place where the happiest kids live: Mexico. Surprisingly, the US ranked fifth (behind Germany)!
Check out the other kid-friendly facts that they found, like how to properly praise a child and the best way to argue so they don't turn into miserable jerks.
Did any of these surprise you?
Images via Luca Zordan/Galeries/Corbis & Happify