10 Science-Backed Steps to Raise Happy Kids Post-Divorce

happy kids
Source: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/
Source: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/

Can children lead a happier life post-divorce?

Absolutely, children can lead a happier life after their parents get divorced, although it largely hinges on how the divorced parents manage the situation. It’s pivotal to place the child’s well-being at the forefront. This includes fostering healthy relationships with the other parent, exemplifying good parenting, and consistently offering emotional support. It’s also essential to maintain a stable routine and basic rules across the two households, which can help the child feel secure and loved.

Children thrive in an environment that’s tranquil and loving. If the divorce results in reduced conflict and tension at home, it can positively affect the child’s happiness. Parents must also effectively handle their own grieving process, as children often mirror their parents’ emotions. Seeking professional help or joining support groups can aid this process.

How can I ensure my child’s happiness post-divorce?

Ensuring your child’s happiness after a divorce encompasses several key steps. Firstly, it’s critical to maintain open and sincere communication with your child. Age-appropriately discuss the divorce and reassure them that both parents will continue to love and support them, regardless of the changed circumstances.

Secondly, practice co-parenting effectively with your ex-spouse. This involves keeping consistent rules and routines in both the mom’s house and dad’s house and refraining from bad mouthing the other parent within the child’s hearing.

Thirdly, guarantee that your child has a healthy outlet for their feelings. This could involve counseling or support groups specially designed for children of divorced parents. Encourage them to express their feelings and validate their emotions.

Lastly, concentrate on raising happy children by promoting healthy relationships, teaching them to adapt to the change, and encouraging them to focus on life’s positive aspects. Remember, the aim is to raise a resilient child who can gracefully handle life’s challenges.

Will kids always be sad about divorce?

While it’s common for kids to feel sad about their parents’ divorce, these feelings aren’t always permanent. Children are resilient and can adapt to new situations over time. The sadness they experience is often a response to the changes and uncertainty associated with divorce. However, with the right support and guidance, they can successfully navigate these changes and emerge stronger.

Acknowledge and validate their feelings while reassuring them that it’s okay to feel happy and enjoy life. Encourage them to maintain good relationships with both parents and reassure them that both parents will continue to play an active role in their lives. With time, love, support, and consistency, children can indeed recover from the initial sadness of divorce.

Are you concerned about how divorce may affect your children? The level of conflict is the primary determinant of how children adapt when their parents get divorced.

“Most divorced parents love their children more than they despise the other parent, and they understand that parental conflict harms children. The challenge is piercing through the hurt, fear, and anger that you are feeling to stay focused on the need to put your children first.” Deborah Moskovitch, 2007, The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors, and Other Experts, Chicago Review Press.

When you ask parents what they want for their kids, the most common reply is they aim to raise happy children.

Article via: Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

“The well-being of children is more important to adults than just about anything else–health care, the well-being of seniors, the cost of living, terrorism, and the war in Iraq. More than two-thirds of adults say they are “extremely concerned” about the well-being of children, and this concern cuts across gender, income, ethnicity, age, and political affiliation.”

There is an abundance of information on raising smart and successful kids, but how do you raise happy kids?

Sometimes, it’s hard to strike a balance between what’s best for children and what makes them happy — but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Happier kids are more likely to evolve into successful, accomplished adults.

“Happiness is a tremendous advantage in a world that emphasizes performance. On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love. They receive better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries. They are more likely to get married, and once married, they are more satisfied with their marriage.”

So looking at the science, what really works when it comes to raising happy kids?

Step 1: Prioritize Your Happiness

The first step to happier kids is, ironically, slightly self-oriented.

Your happiness profoundly affects your kids’ happiness and success.

Extensive research has established a substantial link between mothers who feel depressed and “negative outcomes” in their children, such as acting out and other behavior problems. Parental depression actually seems to cause behavioral problems in kids; it also makes our parenting less effective.

And this is not merely due to genetics.

“…although the study did find that happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children, it couldn’t find any genetic component.”

So what’s the first step to being a happier you? Take some time each week to have fun with friends.

Laughter is contagious, so hang out with friends or family members who are likely to be laughing themselves. Their laughter will get you laughing too, although it doesn’t even need to in order to lighten your mood. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves.

Step 2: Teach Them To Build Relationships

No one denies learning about relationships is important — but how many parents actually dedicate the time to teach kids how to relate to others?

(Just saying “Hey, knock it off” when kids don’t get along really doesn’t go far in building essential people skills.)

It doesn’t take much. It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy.

Not only does this build essential skills and make your kids better individuals, research shows that over the long haul, it makes them happier.

Patients suffering from Multiple sclerosis (MS) who were trained to provide compassionate, unconditional positive regard for other MS sufferers through monthly fifteen-minute telephone calls “showed pronounced improvement in self-confidence, self-esteem, depression, and role functioning” over two years. These helpers were particularly shielded against depression and anxiety.

Step 3: Expect Effort, Not Perfection

A note to perfectionist helicopter parents and Tiger Moms: take it easy.

Relentlessly banging the achievement drum messes kids up.

Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.

The research is very consistent: Praise effort, not natural ability.

Most kids praised for their intelligence wanted the easier puzzle; they weren’t going to risk making a mistake and losing their status as “smart.” Conversely, over 90 percent of kids encouraged for their effort chose a harder puzzle.

Why? Dweck explains: “When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look.”

Step 4: Teach Optimism

Want to avoid dealing with a surly teenager? Then teach those pre-teens to look on the bright side.

Ten-year-olds who are taught how to think and interpret the world optimistically are half as prone to depression when they later go through puberty.

Author Christine Carter puts it simply: “Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.”

She compares optimists to pessimists and finds optimists:

Are more successful at school, work and athletics Are healthier and live longer End up more satisfied with their marriages Are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety

Step 5: Teach Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a skill, not an inborn trait.

Thinking kids will just “naturally” come to understand their own emotions (let alone those of others) doesn’t set them up for success.

A simple first step here is to “Empathize, Label and Validate” when they’re struggling with anger or frustration.

Molly: “I am SO SO SO MAD AT YOU.”

Me: “You are mad at me, very mad at me. Tell me about that. Are you also feeling disappointed because I won’t let you have a playdate right now?”

Molly: “YES!! I want to have a playdate right NOW.”

Me: “You seem sad.” (Crawling into my lap, Molly whimpers a little and rests her head on my shoulder.)

Relate to the child, help them identify what they are feeling and let them know that those feelings are okay (even though bad behavior might not be).

Step 6: Form Happiness Habits

We’re on step 6 and it might seem like this is already a lot to remember for you — let alone for a child. We can overcome that with good habits.

Thinking through these methods is taxing but acting habitually is easy, once habits have been established.

How do you help kids build lasting happiness habits? Carter explains a few powerful methods backed by research:

Stimulus removal: Get distractions and temptations out of the way. Make It Public: Establish goals to increase social support — and social pressure. One Goal At A Time: Too many goals overwhelms willpower, especially for kids. Solidify one habit before adding another. Keep At It: Don’t expect perfection immediately. It takes time. There will be relapses. That’s normal. Keep reinforcing.

Step 7: Teach Self-Discipline

Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence — or most anything else, for that matter.

Yes, it’s that famous marshmallow test all over again. Kids who better resisted temptation went on to much better lives years later and were happier.

…preschoolers’ ability to delay gratification–to wait for that second marshmallow–predicts intelligence, school success, and social skills in adolescence. This is at least in part because self-discipline facilitates learning and information processing. In addition, self-disciplined kids cope better with frustration and stress and tend to have a greater sense of social responsibility. In other words, self-discipline leads not just to school success and sitting nicely at the dinner table but to greater happiness, more friends and increased community engagement.

What’s a good way to start teaching self-discipline? Help kids learn to distract themselves from temptation.

One way to do it is to obscure the temptation–to physically cover up the tempting marshmallow. When a reward is covered up, 75 percent of kids in one study were able to wait a full fifteen minutes for the second marshmallow; none of the kids was able to wait this long when the reward was visible.

Step 8: More Playtime

We read a lot about mindfulness and meditation these days — and both are quite powerful.

Getting kids to do them regularly however can be quite a challenge. What works almost as well?

Most kids already practice mindfulness — fully enjoying the present moment — when they play. but kids today spend less time playing both indoors and out… All told, over the last two decades, children have lost eight hours per week of free, unstructured, and spontaneous play…

Playtime isn’t just goofing off. It’s essential to helping kids grow and learn.

Researchers believe that this dramatic drop in unstructured playtime is in part responsible for slowing kids cognitive and emotional development… In addition to helping kids learn to self-regulate, child-led, unstructured play (with or without adults) promoted intellectual, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Unstructured play helps children learn how to work in groups, to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, regulate their emotions and behavior, and speak up for themselves.

No strict instructions are necessary here: Budget more time for your kids to just get outside and simply play.

Step 9: Rig Their Environment For Happiness

We don’t like to admit it, but we’re all very much influenced by our environment – often more than we realize.

Your efforts will be constrained by time and effort, while context affects us (and children) constantly.

What’s a simple way to better control a child’s surroundings and let your deliberate happiness efforts have maximum effect?

Less TV.

…research demonstrates a strong link between happiness and not watching television. Sociologists show that happier people tend to watch considerably less television than unhappy people. We don’t know whether TV makes people unhappy, or if already unhappy people watch more TV. But we do know that there are a lot of activities that will help our kids develop into happy, well-adjusted individuals. If our kids are watching TV, they aren’t doing those things that could be making them happier in the long run.

Step 10: Eat Dinner Together

Sometimes all science does is validate those things our grandparents knew all along. Yes, family dinner matters.

This simple tradition helps mold better kids and makes them happier too.

Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis are more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They got better grades. they have fewer depressive symptoms, particularly among adolescent girls. And they are less likely to become obese or have an eating disorder. Family dinners even trump reading to your kids in terms of preparing them for school. And these associations hold even after researchers control for family connectedness…

Sum Up

Here are the ten steps:

Get Happy Yourself Teach Them To Build Relationships Expect Effort, Not Perfection Teach Optimism Teach Emotional Intelligence Form Happiness Habits Teach Self-Discipline More Playtime Rig Their Environment For Happiness Eat Dinner Together

We’re often more open to new methods when it comes to work and careers, but ignoring tips when it comes to family is a mistake

Last Words:

In conclusion, raising happy children amidst a divorce is a challenging yet achievable task. It requires a concerted effort from both parents, regardless of their personal grievances. The key is to focus on the child’s well-being, putting their needs and emotions at the forefront.

As divorced parents, it is crucial to maintain healthy relationships with your ex-spouse for the sake of your children. This involves open communication, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to co-parenting. Remember, your child’s behaviour is often a reflection of their environment. Therefore, creating a stable, loving, and supportive environment can significantly help your child adapt to the changes brought about by divorce.

It’s also important to remember that children thrive when they clearly understand their situation. Therefore, honest and age-appropriate discussions about divorce can help alleviate their fears and anxieties. It’s okay to let them know that it’s a tough situation for everyone involved but assure them that both parents will always be there to support them.

Moreover, it’s essential to maintain consistency in your child’s life. This includes maintaining the same basic rules in both mom’s and dad’s houses, ensuring a stable routine, and providing consistent emotional support. This consistency helps children feel secure and loved, even when transitioning between two households.

Lastly, remember to take care of your own emotional health. Seek professional help if needed, join support groups, and take time for self-care. Your happiness and well-being directly influence your child’s happiness. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Ultimately, the goal is to raise healthy, happy children who can form good relationships, handle life’s challenges with resilience, and lead fulfilling lives. It may be a difficult journey, but it is certainly possible with patience, love, and understanding.

Remember, the most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. Let’s make it count.


Related posts:

Children and Divorce: Maintaining Relationships Post DivorceOpens in a new tab.

Co-Parenting and Transitioning with EaseOpens in a new tab.

Parenting Tips for Transforming Your FamilyOpens in a new tab.

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