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Raising Happy Children - Tips from Dr Happy

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ACU Scholarship ACU Scholarship 17-Jul-2017

"The Pursuit of Happiness" -  Raising Happy Children

    Dr Timothy Sharp (aka Dr Happy) is one of Australia's leaders 
    in the field of positive 
psychology and happiness. He is also the
   
Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute - Australia's
    first organization devoted solely to enhancing happiness in
    individuals, families and organizations. 


                   
   
He shares his tips for raising children that thrive and flourish:

1.    Spend time with your children. A simple thing. We all lead busy lives but the most valuable and important gift that
we can ever give our children is our time and undivided attention.

2.    If there are things that matter to you, or things that you think matter to your children, talk about them out loud.
Too often we avoid difficult conversations because we are not sure about how to phrase it correctly or if we
were to plant a seed in our children’s mind about something they haven’t thought about before. It doesn’t matter.
Conversations, as a general rule, are going to be helpful.

3.   Teach your children how to work through things. They won’t know how to do it all straight away. We need to work
through it with them – as a guide on the side – not necessarily doing everything for them – but helping them learn
how to work through it on their own. This is what resilience is. And again, if I threw everything else away as a parent,
or if I think about all the things that I have learnt over the years, one of the most
important things that I would hopefully teach my kids is resilience. Because as much as I would love to protect them
from everything, I know I can’t. I wont be able to protect them but what I hope is that they will have the skills, the 
strength, the inner fortitude to bounce back, to deal with whatever they are going to have to face, big or small.

4.    Try to make helpfulness and kindness and compassion and gratitude part of daily living. This is something that I am
quite passionate about and again, I know from the research how important this is. It should be woven into the fabric
of our everyday, of every week. It can start in the home and it should extend to their broader community of friends
and schools. Giving, gratitude and compassion, these are big constructs in positive psychology, they go back way
before positive psychology obviously – they are part of every major religion in some form or another – but they are
vitally important and there is no age too young to start teaching these sorts of things. And I think it’s important to
help our children see the bigger picture. Many of our children, by definition, because we live in Australia, have
a pretty good quality of life. I think it’s important we can teach our kids how lucky they are and teach them that there
are many other children and people in the world who don’t have what they have so encourage them to be grateful
for what they have.

5.    And finally, it all comes down to love. One of the greatest longitudinal studies in health is the Harvard Men’s Study.
For more than 70 years researchers have been looking at “what goes towards living a long and good life”. One of the
study's directors, George Vaillant, who led the research gatherers for more than 30 years, was once asked to sum
up what they have they learned about living a long and good life. He said he could sum it up in one word: “love”.
Everything that they have learned about longevity comes down to love.

So if we want our kids to thrive and flourish, the best thing we can do as parents, is continue to love our
 children, no matter what.

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