We want the kids in our life to be healthy and happy. We know they can’t be happy all of the time, but are there things we can do to help kids be happier? There are!

Research Shows that Happiness Can:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Build a strengthened immune system.
  • Reduce pain.
  • Improve educational outcomes.
  • Improve sleep.
  • Increase life-expectancy.

Here Are Seven Ways to Help Kids Cultivate Happiness:

  1. Encourage strong friendships.
    Children who have strong social connections are more likely to experience positive emotions. Although friendships aren't always easy, having shared experiences helps to create a sense of belonging and purpose. Work with kids to build the kind of connections that are most meaningful to them.
  2. Take time to be kind. 
    Being kind to others improves our mood. Show the children in your life the power of kindness by doing something for a family member, friend, neighbor or teacher. Have them join in or think of someone they would like to show kindness to. Consider getting the whole family involved in the kindness challenge.
  3. Use mindfulness.
    Mindfulness is the practice of stopping to think about the present moment instead of thinking about the past or future. Try to stop and appreciate the moment you are in. You can practice during dinner, while taking a walk outside or while reading a good story together.
  4. Acknowledge good things.
    Gratitude is good for mental health and can keep us from getting caught up in what's not going well. Work with your child to say things you’re grateful for such as a caring family, completing a difficult school assignment, friends or finding a new favorite song.
  5. Set goals.
    Research shows having purpose and meaning in life help improve our happiness. When we have goals to work toward, we feel motivated to persevere and work toward that goal. Help children set short-, medium- and long-term goals, and then set up steps along the way. The older they are, the more children can think about what they want to accomplish. For younger children, setting a goal for the next 30 minutes and then celebrating when they achieve it will give them an immediate boost of positive emotions.
  6. Move your body.
    There’s a strong connection between physical and mental health. Exercise helps release certain endorphins in the brain which elevate your mood starting shortly after you finish your exercise. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like a brisk walk, dancing, family bike ride or anything else that gets your heart rate elevated, will produce positive effects.
  7. Tell a joke.
    Researchers have shown that smiling and laughing communicate to your brain to experience positive emotions. Telling silly jokes, watching a funny family-friendly show or just doing something that makes us smile will help to improve your mood. With older kids, take turns sharing funny memes or video clips.

Teaching kids to consistently engage in these seven activities, will create a pattern for them to follow into adulthood. Happy people create their own happiness!

Happiness Activities

Come on, let’s get happy! Here are four activities you and your family can do to bring a little sunshine into your day.

  • A Little of Jar of Happiness: All you need for this activity is paper, pen and a jar. Each night at the dinner table, you and your family write down one thing that’s made you happy today. Go around the table and share and then put it in the jar!
  • Happiness Certificate: Download this Happiness Certificate (or use it as inspiration to make your own) and give it to someone that made you happy today.
  • Coloring Pages: Practice mindfulness by coloring and thinking about the things that bring you happiness.
  • Happiness Builder: Download the Happiness Builder and pick one to try every day. At the end of a week, talk about which one was your favorite.