We all want our kids to be happy.
How often do we hear or say this phrase, “I just want my child to be happy” ?

God enjoys joy. He cares about our happiness, our cheerfulness.

He created us with the ability to feel good. To feel happy. The joy of the Lord is our strength!

God is a joy-giver. 

It is a natural human desire to seek happiness. Our Heavenly Father programmed joy into us.

And now, neuroscientists confirm that our brains positively respond to things that make us happy.

Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscience researcher, has given us 4 ways to tap into and increase our happy meter.

I’ve taken Dr. Korb’s 4 ideas and applied them to parenting.

Here are the 4 Secrets to Raising a Happy Kid:

1. Train your child to ask, “What am I grateful for?” 

Focus on thankfulness and gratitude to increase the happiness factor. Recently, at a MOPS group where I was speaking,  one mom prayed, “Lord, thank you that the dog threw up on the hardwood floor and not the carpet this morning.” 

As she prayed, she laughed. And so did the rest of us. A thankful heart is contagious. When a person expresses appreciation, often those around him catch the joy wave.

Scientifically speaking, we laughed because her gratefulness boosted our brains’ neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.

 So help your kiddo’s get happy by having and encouraging a grateful and thankful outlook.

2. Have your child name his feelings.

In those times your child is really down in the dumps, have him label his emotions.

As parents, we can help our kids out with the labeling. “You appear frustrated.” “You must be feeling really sad right now.” The really little ones can begin by naming their emotions three ways: glad, sad, mad.

By identifying how one feels rather than ignoring or suppressing the pain, the brain is more able to deal with the issue.

3. Encourage your child to make a decision.

Rather than fuss over a decision until it’s perfect or procrastinate making a choice, be decisive. Putting off a decision increases worry and anxiety. Our brain feels at rest and relaxed once decisions are made.

Train your child how to set goals, find solutions, and solve problems. Have him create a list and check off things that have been completed.

These activities actually calm the limbic system and increase pleasure.

4. Show, give, and receive affection.

Touch increases our happiness and lessens our physical pain. Intuitively we know this. That is why  we hold a loved one’s hand when he is getting a shot or in some type of pain.

Research shows that 5 hugs a day for 4 weeks significantly increase happiness. Scientifically speaking, big bear hugs are much better than than the quick, stiff, obligatory hug.

Our brain chemically responds to these four things; serotonin and dopamine increase (the happy chemicals) and cortisol (the stress hormone ) decreases.

So if we want happy kids let’s train them to be grateful, identify their emotions, make good decisions, and give and receive hugs.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. 
Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
James 5:13

Come on get happy!

If you would like more information on happiness go to:

Dr. Alex Korb author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression One Small Change at a Time  

with faith, hope, and love,

 If you would like Lori to speak at your next event connect with her over at http://www.loriwildenberg.com

If you liked this article you may want to checkout Raising Little Kids with Big Love or Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love over at Amazon.

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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