50 Gifts that Grow Happy Kids, by Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD

Don’t you love the excitement an unexpected gift brings to a child?

I remember the way my daughter eagerly anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus and how each gift brought joy to her face. Some toys or stuffed animals became favorites for many years to come.

But most gifts brought only temporary delight because… well, you know the answer — they were material gifts, with very little emotional attachment.

What’s so great about gifts with emotional attachment? Everything. They cost nothing, but they mean everything. And parents can give them to their children every day. The result? Happy kids!

50 Ways To Grow Happy Kids Throughout the Year

  1. Be playful. Encourage their playfulness.
  2. Celebrate their differences and special needs.
  3. Ask what was best about their day.
  4. Show your gratitude for their presence in your life.
  5. Leave an encouraging note in their backpack.
  6. Exercise together.
  7. Help them discover meaningful after-school and summer activities.
  8. Laugh with one another.
  9. Enjoy naturebeauty, and art together.
  10. Smile when they walk into a room.
  11. Welcome their friends to your home and get to know them.
  12. Praise them for who they are, not just for what they do.
  13. Listen first. Speak last.
  14. Thank them for their ideas and suggestions.
  15. Help them critically think through decisions.
  16. Advise, counsel, and support them.
  17. Allow them to make their own choices.
  18. Encourage them to serve the public good.
  19. Believe in their abilities to overcome challenges.
  20. Give them encouragement when they struggle.
  21. When they show courage, let them know you admire them.
  22. When they solve a problem, help them reflect on what they learned.
  23. Talk about real world challenges and invite their opinions on moral issues.
  24. Let them know it is okay to feel confused.
  25. Don’t judge or impose your beliefs on them. Help them arrive at their own.
  26. Give them a toolbox to build their emotional intelligence.
  27. Help them connect their heads with their hearts.
  28. Show them how to care by modeling empathy and compassion.
  29. Talk with them about your heroes and role models.
  30. Discover their heroes and role models.
  31. When you are angry and frustrated, demonstrate how to manage your feelings instead of lashing out at others.
  32. Teach them about being safe online – and off.
  33. Be a cheerleader for them when they feel down.
  34. Optimism is contagious. Cultivate it in your home.
  35. Don’t just watch movies together; discuss the messages and ideas in the stories.
  36. Help them see the good side of getting things wrong.
  37. Share the little things you notice about them that you cherish – the way they giggle, munch their food, or comb their hair.
  38. Help them create a Kindness project.
  39. Thank them for their kindness.
  40. Embrace their childhood or adolescent awkwardness.
  41. Try not to embarrass them in front of their friends – or ever.
  42. Allow them to see you cry.
  43. Help them find meaning when they experience loss or grief.
  44. Talk to them about their futures; encourage curiosity about different career paths.
  45. Apologize when you are wrong.
  46. Let them know when they inspire you.
  47. Admit when you make a mistake and what you learned as a result.
  48. Be a sounding board when they need one.
  49. Encourage connections with adult mentors.
  50. Surprise them with a hug—just because you love them

Published: December 6, 2014

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