This article focuses on ten things that produce happy families based on research.
1) MAKE THE EFFORT
We instinctively grasp the importance of making incremental progress in many areas of our life. We set goals and make an effort. We do what we need to do. Some of us, however, don’t emphasize enough the importance of working towards a happier family.
If we work together as a family, we can develop and improve the happiness and cohesion of the household. But, as with all things worthwhile, it requires effort and dedication.
2) CREATE A MISSION STATEMENT
Set aside some time and talk about what it truly means to be a family. What are your values? Successful philanthropic organizations have detailed well-crafted mission statements. Same goes for successful companies and other entities. Mission statements serve as the foundation for every decision. Loving families can do the same.
So start the conversation. Identify what your central values are as a family. Identify the type of family you want to be.
3) GIVE THE KIDS SOME AUTHORITY
Scientists at the University of California discovered that parents who empowered their children to plan their own time, set weekly goals, and evaluate their progress develop the areas of the brain responsible for executive skills.
Executive skills help children avoid distractions, exert self-discipline, and evaluate the consequences of their choices.
4) SHARE YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Researchers at Emory University discovered that the more knowledge a child possessed about their family history, the higher their degree of self-confidence.
Perhaps the most surprising finding is that knowledge of family history is the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being. Teach your kids to remember where they came from – it’s a valuable lesson.
5) PRACTICE EFFECTIVE MEDIATION
Bruce Ury is the co-author of the classic book Getting to Yes, the best-selling book on negotiation in the world. Ury found that implementing a three-step process can help parents and their children successfully and affectionately resolve disputes.
– Separate everybody, including yourself.
– Placing them in a visible area (e.g., the family table); involve the children by asking them to come up with three alternatives to the conflict.
– Bring everyone back into a room and discuss the situation. Ask your kids which one of the three solutions they like best.
“Don’t be a dictator unless you have to be,” Ury adds.
6) BE PART OF A COMMUNITY
Research has shown that having a community of ten supportive friends make families happier.
Professors Chaeyoon Lin and Robert Putnam found that families who are involved in a religious community, in particular, score higher on overall measures of happiness and well-being.
Lin and Putnam note that religious preference didn’t matter in their 3,000 person study. What did matter is the number of friends in the religious community – and they found that 10 is the sweet spot.
7) LIMIT STRESS
Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of the Families and Work Institute (FWI), distributed a survey to over a thousand families.
In the survey, children were asked a simple question:
“If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?”
The most common response was that the parents were less tired and less stressed.Here’s the thing: our emotions needn’t dictate our behaviors. Let’s show our children more positivity and less stress!
8) EAT DINNER TOGETHER
A 16-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that the number of time children spent eating meals at home was the top predictor of improved academic achievement and fewer behavior-related problems.
The study discovered that eating together as a family was more important than:
– time spent in school
– time spent studying
– playing sports
– attending religious services
9) GET THE GRANDPARENTS INVOLVED
Grandparents are some of the best teachers. Among other things, grandparents teach kids social skills, compassion, and how to be considerate.
An interview-based study of over 400 adolescents at Brigham Young University found that a positive correlation between the amount of time a child spends with their grandparents – and social ability, school involvement, and acts of kindness.
10) HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS
Bruce Ury shares what his family does: “We basically ask three questions. What worked well this week, what didn’t work well this week, and what will we agree to work on in the week ahead?
And if the kids meet the goal, they get to help pick a reward. And if they don’t, they get to help pick a punishment. They don’t do it without us, but we all do it in consultation.”
I encountered myself that teaching kids is a whole different experience than teaching adults. Why that? Read the article below!
"Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports. We usually don't think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. The bustling pace of our children's lives can have a profound effect on their innate joy—and usually not for the better.
I have found that yoga can help counter these pressures. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life's challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children.
Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvelous inner light that all children have to the surface.
When yogis developed the asanas many thousands of years ago, they still lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration—the sting of a scorpion, the grace of a swan, the grounded stature of a tree. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. When they assume the pose of the lion (Simhasana) for example, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion, but also their own sense of power: when to be aggressive, when to retreat. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga's true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one's part in the delicate web of life.
Learn to Teach How Children Learn
Yoga with children offers many possibilities to exchange wisdom, share good times, and lay the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen. All that's needed is a little flexibility on the adult's part because, as I quickly found out when I first started teaching the practice to preschoolers, yoga for children is quite different than yoga for adults.
Six years ago, I had my first experience teaching yoga to kids at a local Montessori school. I looked forward to the opportunity with confidence—after all, I'd been teaching yoga to adults for quite a while, had two young children of my own, and had taught creative writing for several years in various Los Angeles schools. But after two classes with a group of 3 to 6-year-olds, I had to seriously reevaluate my approach. I needed to learn to let go (the very practice I had been preaching for years) of my agenda and my expectations of what yoga is and is not.
When I began to honor the children's innate intelligence and tune in to how they were instructing me to instruct them, we began to co-create our classes. We used the yoga asanas as a springboard for exploration of many other areas—animal adaptations and behavior, music and playing instruments, storytelling, drawing—and our time together became a truly interdisciplinary approach to learning. Together we wove stories with our bodies and minds in a flow that could only happen in child's play.
The kids began to call me Mrs. Yoga, and I called them Yoga Kids. We continued to work and play together until our creations bloomed into a program called YogaKids. The program combines yogic techniques designed especially for children using Dr. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner, an author and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes eight intelligences innate in all of us—linguistic, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal—and emphasizes that children should be given the opportunity to develop and embody as many of these as possible.
In keeping with this theory, YogaKids integrates storytelling, games, music, language, and other arts into a complete curriculum that engages the "whole child." We employ ecology, anatomy, nutrition, and life lessons that echo yogic principles of interdependence, oneness, and fun. Most of all, our program engages the entire mind, body, and spirit in a way that honors all the ways children learn.
How You Can Benefit from Teaching Yoga for Kids
If you're planning to teach yoga to kids, there are a few general things to know that will enhance your experience. The greatest challenge with children is to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga: stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, peace, grace, connection, health, and well-being. Luckily, most children love to talk, and they love to move—both of which can happen in yoga. Children will jump at the chance to assume the role of animals, trees, flowers, warriors. Your role is to step back and allow them to bark in the Dog Pose, hiss in the cobra, and meow in cat stretch. They can also recite the ABCs or 123s as they are holding poses. Sound is a great release for children and adds an auditory dimension to the physical experience of yoga.
Children need to discover the world on their own. Telling them to think harder, do it better, or be a certain way because it's good for them is not the optimal way. Instead, provide a loving, responsive, creative environment for them to uncover their own truths. As they perform the various animal and nature asanas, engage their minds to deepen their awareness. When they're snakes (Bhujangasana), invite them to really imagine that they're just a long spine with no arms and legs. Could you still run or climb a tree? In Tree Pose (Vrksasana), ask them to imagine being a giant oak, with roots growing out of the bottoms of their feet. Could you stay in the same position for 100 years? If you were to be chopped down, would that be OK? Would it hurt?
When they stretch like a dog, balance like a flamingo, breathe like a bunny, or stand strong and tall like a tree, they are making a connection between the macrocosm of their environment and the microcosm of their bodies. The importance of reverence for all life and the principle of interdependence becomes apparent. Children begin to understand that we are all made of the same "stuff." We're just in different forms.
Think of yourself as a facilitator rather than a teacher. Guide your children while simultaneously opening your heart and letting them guide you. They'll no doubt invite you into a boundless world of wonder and exploration. If you choose to join them, the teaching/learning process will be continually reciprocal and provide an opportunity for everyone to create, express themselves, and grow together."