photo: Donnie Ray Jones via flickr

All parents want their kids to be happy. The question is, how? Shiny toys and sweet treats might gain some smiles, but according to experts, if you want your kids to grow up into happy, well-adjusted adults, these are the things you should focus on:

1. Let them play!
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but with hectic schedules it can sometimes be hard to squeeze in real, pure playtime. Making time is important, however, as studies have shown that playtime boosts kid’s development and happiness.

2. Argue after bedtime.
While it can be a good lesson for kids to witness healthy debate between adults, if you want your kids to be happy you should keep your big arguments behind closed doors. Research has shown that parents who argue a lot can have a negative impact on their kids.

3. Don’t compare.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little competitive, but if you want to raise happy kids, experts say avoid making comparisons between your child and others, especially siblings. Studies have found that comparing siblings can cause life-long harm.

4. Acknowledge emotions, even negative ones.
It can be reflexive to say, “don’t get mad,” when your toddler stomps his feet and pouts over not getting an extra cookie. However, experts say, to develop stronger emotional awareness, it’s important to acknowledge negative feelings and teach your child how to deal with them, instead of pushing or suppressing them.

5. Focus on effort over success.
Failure is an inevitable part of life. In order to prepare kids for handling those rough patches, experts say it’s important to acknowledge your child’s effort when they push themselves toward a goal.

6. Give them responsibility and independence.
The ability to be self-reliant and independent is critical to success and happiness as an adult. According to experts, the best way to develop those skills is by giving them more responsibilities and having them become less reliant on you as they grow.

7. Be happy yourself.
Raising happy kids starts with being happy yourself. Experts say a parent’s behavior acts as a model for their children. In other words, if you’re stressed your kids will be too, but if you’re happy, the whole family will be.

Do you use any of these tips with your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments!