What makes children happy?

Mon, May 07, 2018

Happiness is infectious, it is habit forming. Appreciating who we are and how we perceive our ourselves and our world contribute greatly to our own wellbeing.

The School is working to promote student wellbeing in a number of ways, including the FLOURISH program, the Middle School Wellbeing Days and Kindness Week, amongst others. One of the key points expressed in Kindness Week is that any act of kindness boosts happiness. After a Kindness Project session at our first Wellbeing Day, I asked a group of students what made them happy. Some of the replies were friends, family, doing things they liked, social media, fitting in, sport and helping others.

There are many books published about happiness, but the research I found most interesting was that happiness is habit forming. This particle is about we, as parents, can promote three habits that will, by the time our young people are adults, see them settled into the habits of happiness.

Habit 1: Manage our Moods: The way we think and feel about the world influences how we perceive happiness such as using positive self-talk, cultivating optimism, celebrating life, practising gratitude and value the connectedness with family and friends.

Habit 2: Self Manage: Certain actions, such as regular exercise, eating healthily, plenty of sleep, connecting with other people and finding joy in everyday things create a happier person.

Habit 3: Strengthen Character: Self-control, fairness, kindness, wisdom, courage, family values, leadership and honesty are tendencies we want to develop in our children to act in certain ways when confronted with either helpful or difficult situations

Some of the habits created are visible: working hard, valuing relationships with others, keeping healthy minds and bodies and contributing to our community. The personal habits of self management and managing moods, insulate our children from unhappiness and serve as a protective function.  A happy person will always find hope in any situation.  Frederick Koenig stated that 'We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have."

Finally, cultivating fun is important. The more we laugh, the happier we are. Share a funny story, tell a joke, watch a funny movie. It is all about modelling the right behaviours to boost happiness. But most importantly, spend time with those who matter.

By Teresa Gastevich, Assistant Principal (Pastoral)