If you were to take a poll of parents, I'd be willing to be that most, if not all, of them would say they want to make sure their children are happy. That might be easier said than done, though. Although everyone from your well-meaning mother-in-law to your experienced sitter to your BFF will assure you that they have the recipe for your child's happiness, there's no real guarantee. But who can argue with evidence and cold, hard facts? There are many science-based ways to make your kid happier. And don't worry — you don't have to be on Neil deGrasse Tyson's level to understand how simple things can actually affect your child's mood.
One of the great things about science is that it's always changing and new discoveries occur every day. It's hard to imagine that only two generations ago, mothers had to wait until their baby was actually born to find out its gender. So with all the research that has been done in the realm of parenting, children, and emphasizing the importance of mental health even from a young age, it's no surprise that science has a couple of tips on how to make your kid happier. Check out these interesting finds and you may just start to see more smiles around your house.
1. Nurture Them Early
You're probably thinking, "duh," when I say that nurturing your child is a good thing, but it goes deeper than that. Dr. Joan Luby, a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine, told Live Science that she and her colleagues found through their research that children who received nurturing support from their parents at a young age had a 10 percent larger hippocampus. For those who slept through science class, that's the region of the brain that regulates emotions, according to Psychology Today.
2. Teach Them To Cope
Every kid is going to have a moment where they are seriously bummed in life. Whether it's something as small as breaking a favorite toy or something bigger like losing a sports game, your child will have to learn how to deal with disappointment and being upset. It turns out that showing your child how to handle frustrating situations can actually make them happier. Psychologist Paul Gilligan told The Irish Independent that pointing out the positive while still acknowledging the sadness of the situation will lead to a less stressed and an overall happier child.
3. Joke Around
Even if you don't think of yourself as the "fun" parent, that doesn't mean you can't embrace your inner child every now and then. And if you already do feel like you're the jokester of the family, then you now how fun that can be. Dr. Elena Hoicka, a professor of psychology, conducted a study in which she found parents who play pretend and get silly with their young children give them the skill set for creating their own happiness.
4. Hands Off
Again, this one may seem a bit on the obvious side, but there are definite negative consequences when parents are physically rough in their discipline style with their children. Basically that's the exact opposite of making your kid happy.
In a recent study, research scientist Dr. Michael F. Lorber found that children whose parents were physically aggressive with them were more likely to become physically aggressive themselves. So in contrast, parents who weren't so angry, had more well-adjusted children.
5. Take Care Of Yourself
Just like the directions for the oxygen mask on an airplane, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your child. So the same theory behind airplane survival is equally sound for parenting. Researcher Jennifer Ablow told the Oxford Journal that mothers who did not seek help for mental health issues, such as depression, were less likely to be responsive to their children's cries. That lead to issues for the children as well, unlike children whose parents did seek treatment. Perhaps the best way to make your own child happy is to make sure you're happy first.