We think about enrolling our children in foreign language classes, dance classes, music classes, soccer classes, tennis, swimming … and unending list of things that our child can potentially master to grow into a successful being. But rarely do we think about what really makes our kids happy. Once upon a time, childhood was filled with endless days spent outside and very little TV. Imaginations ran wild and kids made their own fun with an old cardboard box playing pretend rocket game. They played, they learned, and they socialised. But most of all, they had fun. Life is far too scripted today. Gone are the days of free play and creating something out of nothing. Many kids today are simply following a script. That's not to say that kids aren't happy, because many kids are. Many kids live a life full of adventure and wonder in their own backyards. But many don't. How can we focus on happiness when there is always so much to do? Here is a list of 10 things that you can do to raise super happy children 10 Secrets of Supper Happy Kids:

  • They eat on time.
  • I know what you're thinking; that's too simple to be a real parenting strategy. Think again. Have you ever been so hungry that you just wanted to scream? That's how kids feel when they miss a snack or have to wait two hours past their normal mealtime to participate in some super-fancy family dinner. Eating at regular intervals refuels their growing brains and bodies and keeps hunger under control. When kids are calm and satisfied, they experience greater happiness.

  • They get consistent and enough sleep.
  • Some kids are better sleepers than others. While that's certainly the truth, it isn't an excuse for poor sleep habits. Kids need to learn how to sleep. It's up to us to teach them. When they are completely exhausted, they are cranky. When they are well-rested and ready to embrace the day, they are happier. Make consistant sleep routine a priority.

  • They learn gratitude.
  • Help your child appreciate the everyday wonders of life by pausing and expressing thanks for the moment. Whether it is the chance to watch a beautiful sunset, or pick fresh strawberries, express gratitude and your child will follow your example. Doctors say that when parents show gratitude, their children grow up more enthusiastic, joyful, interested, and engaged in the world around them.

  • They have enough unstructured, unhurried play time.
  • Unstructured playtime appears to be a lost art these days. It used to be that kids made their own fun. Today, kids are over-scheduled and in awe of toys that essentially do the playing for them. Please, take a look at the busy schedule and find some time where your kids can just play each day. Play is good for the soul. Allow your child to play by herself and at her own pace. Play doesn’t mean classes, organized sports, and other “enriching” activities. Play is when children invent, create, and daydream. Give them the time to do that.

  • They are allowed to express emotions.
  • Kids yell when they're mad. They cry when they're sad. They might even stomp their feet and run around in circles when they're not sure what to feel. Let them (no matter how embarrassing it is for you) . Kids need to express their emotions. While adults know to call a friend to vent when the going gets tough, kids are a bit more primitive. Shushing them and publicly shaming them doesn't help. Let them vent in their own little way and then offer to help. Enduring a public temper tantrum might feel overwhelming in the moment, but it's better than a lifetime of internalising negative emotions that could lead to eating issues, depression or other emotional problems for your child.

  • They get to make choices.
  • Kids have very little control over their lives. They are constantly being told where to go, what to do and what to eat. A little bit of control goes a long way toward feeling happy. Let your kids choose their outfits. Allow them to choose the dinner menu one night per week. Ask them what classes they want to take. Give them the opportunity to make some decisions and watch them smile in return.

  • They are not overindulged.
  • Over-indulged children who are inundated with new toys or shielded from emotional discomfort are more likely to grow into teenagers who are bored, cynical, and joyless. It’s more important to help children develop inner resources to entertain themselves.

  • They feel heard.
  • If your child comes home from preschool ranting about how much she hates another child, don’t immediately criticise her or tell her not to speak negatively. That will only make her repress her unhappy feelings and bottle them inside. Instead, hear her out and acknowledge her emotions. For example, you could say, “Wow, it sounds like he did something that hurt your feelings.” When kids feel that their parents understand them, they are happier. Pay attention when your kid is talking, they are intuitive. Even toddlers can tell when parents are listening to them or answering on autopilot. When kids feel like their parents truly listen to them, they feel more connected. This increases their self-confidence and increases their overall happiness. Listen when your children speak. It's the best way to build an open and honest relationship with your child and it makes your child happy.

  • They have help from you in handling frustration.
  • When your child complains that he can’t do something, like finishing a puzzle or tying his shoes or reading a book, don’t try to convince him that he can. Rather, show patience and say, “That’s okay. There’s no rush. When you want to try again, let me know.” The child is then likely to come back to the task, a few minutes or a few days later.

  • They experience unconditional love.
  • Kids mess up. You tell them not to jump off the couch over and over again, but they do it anyway. And then they cry. Because childhood is largely based on trial and error, and sometimes kids just need to take chances. Forgive them. Love them anyway. When kids know that their parents love and support them no matter what, they are more likely to take healthy risks. They are confident and secure in their decisions. They learn that sometimes people make mistakes, but there is always a chance to right a wrong. When children know that their parents will always be there for them, for better or for worse, they are happy.