Wondering how to raise happy kids? These three simple strategies will help you create a family culture that will build joyful, happy children.

Oh, that dimpled chin of his.

Moms can tell when their child is happy. Some tell it by the eyes. But me? I can always tell when my son is happy by that little dimpled chin.

It crinkles up just so as he grins ear to ear. The dimple deepens as he laughs, giggles, and smiles.

You see, my kids are happy kids. Perfect kids? Nah, we don’t have any of those around here. But happy kids we’ve got in spades.

What Makes a Child Happy?

What can you do to raise happy kids? It’s really more simple than you think.

In fact the secret is in the simplicity itself!

Experts are finding that what our kids need for healthy relationships and brains may be a drastic change from their modern, fast-paced brand of childhood.

Raising happy kids boils down to keeping life simple.

Embrace the littleness while they’re little. Savor the slow moments with them.

Want to get started right away? Here are three easy tips that you can start right now that will help you raise children who are full of joy. Let’s get to it!

Three Quick Tips: How to Raise Happy Kids

Tip #1: When in Doubt, Get Out

Did you know that being outside on a regular basis is one of the primary indicators of positive mental health? Kids are no exception. Children desperately need outside play time in order to be happy.

Research has shown that green spaces have a healing effect on our brains. This means that all the stress from school, friends, and social expectations can be counteracted just by getting out kids out in nature!

In our family, we like to say, “If we can do it inside, we can probably do it outside better.” Here are a few of our favorite ways to make outside time a priority in our family.

  • Eat dinner on the back porch, or pack it as a picnic.
  • Bring books and a blanket outside and do homework or storytime in a tree house.
  • Create mini-traditions that help get your family outside: a walk after dinner, a family garden, or a weekend outdoor adventure are great places to start!

Getting outdoors may seem like a hurdle at first. Over time, however, you’ll find it just becomes a way of life!

Action Step: Choose one activity to do outside with your kids this week.

Tip #2: Give Presence, not Presents

When I was growing up, we didn’t have much. We didn’t have expensive toys or clothes. We didn’t have the nicest house or newest cars.

We didn’t have many of the things that we thought we “needed.”

But we had so much more. We had long, unhurried family vacations, packed into a station wagon with nothing but books and our imaginations to entertain us. We had rainy afternoons at home filled with painting, experimenting, and creating. We had hours and hours (and hours!) spent crowded around my mom as she read to us “just one more chapter.”

What my parents got right, and what I hope to get right is this: Presence matters more than presents.

Do I load my kids up on Christmas? You bet.

Are birthdays a big deal around here? Of course.

But I know that to raise happy kids what really matters is that I give them the gift of my time and affection.

To give your kids the happy childhood they deserve, choose presence over presents.

That’s why I love spending one-on-one time with my kids. It doesn’t have to be expensive or impressive. Kids value time above all else!

Action Step: Make a plan to spend family time or one-on-one time with your kids this week!

Tip #3: Be a River, Not a Lake

Every mom wants her kids to be happy. We want to send them out into their futures as successful, well-adjusted, and hardworking adults.

We’d give them the world if we could.

We give them the best toys, take them to the best school, and even cook them the best food if we’re able.

But in the process, remember this: You’re kids are meant to be rivers, not lakes.

Lakes store up all their resources.

But rivers? Rivers pass it on.

Teach your kids to give, teach them to help, and teach them to care. You know all those blessings you give your kids? All the time, toys, and experiences you want them to remember? Teach them that real happiness comes through giving, not receiving.

Here are a few simple ways you can get started building a “river mindset” in your kids.

  • Donate toys to a daycare.
  • Hand out bottled water on a hot day.
  • Make a simple dinner for an elderly neighbor.
  • Pick up trash in your neighborhood.

Raising givers is a sure fire way to raise happy kids. Givers are the happiest people in the world!

Action Step: Help your kids brainstorm one way they can be a giver this week.

Your Turn

That boy with the dimpled chin looks up at me. Today his chin is covered in dirt, fresh from making mud pies in the backyard. His blue eyes sparkle, and a bit of happiness peeps out.

He’s a filthy, happy, mess.

What is your biggest struggle in raising happy kids? What are your favorite ways to create a culture of joy in your own home? Share with us in the comments below!


 

Hi, I’m Julie! I’m a mom of two, professional encourager, and author at Jules & Co. I’m convinced that on our best and worst days as moms, we all need an extra dose of grace and truth. Tired of doing motherhood alone? Get access to my free parenting resource library, and find the community, printables, and tools you need to help you parent with purpose.