kids

In this day and age, how the heck do you raise happy kids?

Triple P – Funded by the Qld Government
Thanks to our brand partner, Triple P – Funded by the Qld Government

Wouldn’t it be good if kids came with instructions? A nice little booklet with just the right information on how to make them sleep and eat and stay safe.

It could tell you exactly what to do, how and why. Parenting made simple.

But unfortunately kids don’t and parenting, while it’s rewarding, can be challenging.

But at the end of the day what we all want is the same thing – happy kids – and luckily there are programs like the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program that has helped more than 4 million children and their families in 25 countries.

Triple P has some effective strategies for just about every situation and can assist you in your goal a happy family.

1. Talk to your kids.

Seems simple right? But sometimes in our busy life we just don’t. There are so many other people we have to talk to… colleagues at work, our partners, other parents, the guy on the end of the phone trying to convince you he is from the ATO and you have a “payment” you never knew about due… he just wants your bank account details.

With all this talk we can forget to talk to the ones who need it the most: our kids.

When they are babies we are encouraged to talk, sing and coo to them as much as you can. And then as they grow and begin to ask you things, take the time to pause what you are doing briefly, give them your attention, and listen to what they say.

2. Praise the right behaviour.

Happy kids need positive parents, but make sure you are praising the right things. Triple P says you should praise behaviours you would like to see more of rather than just the kids.

The program encourages parents to give your child lots of what they call, ‘descriptive praise’ when they do something you would like to see more of. “Thank you for doing what I asked right away.”

“Thank you for not fighting with your brother in the back seat of the car.”

“Thank you for not talking while I was on the phone to the man pretending to be from the ATO.”

Don’t just praise them without giving them a reason and make sure you concentrate on the effort your child puts in, not the results. Praising your child for trying and making an improvement will motivate them to continue trying at a difficult task.

“You tried really hard at soccer today. It was great to see you really joining in.”

“You studied really hard for that test and I’m proud of you.”

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Thank you for not fighting with your brother in the back seat of the car....much. Image via iStock.

3. Give them something to do, but don’t hover.

Triple P teaches us that bored kids are likely to misbehave. This doesn’t mean overwhelming them with hundreds of toys but give them the tools to make their own fun: a large box, a carton of old clothes. I gave my kids our old blinds that we were replacing the other day, and they made walls for a cubby from them and drew on them for hours.

But don’t let them always turn to you to make their fun. Let them lead the play.

4. Let them take risks.

It’s tempting to hover isn’t it? It’s so tempting to always be there to make sure they will be okay. Because if you are there then they are going to be okay? Right?

Well no, not necessarily.

We all hear of the negative effects helicopter parenting can have, and while it’s hard, it’s important to let your child take risks.

Let them climb that tree. Let them try out for the AFL team, even if you know they won’t get in: failure is an important tool in building resilience.

The Triple P program teaches us that kids need to learn to do things for themselves. It reminds us that they need to learn by taking some risks and making mistakes, just like we did. If they aren't given these chances, when will they grow up?

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"Let them climb that tree. Let them try out for the AFL team..." Image via iStock.

5. Make yourself happy.

Happy parents are likely to have happy kids.

Kids will absorb everything including how you are feeling. So make sure you look after yourself and do things that make you happy. One of the best things you can do for your child's happiness is to ensure your own: carve out time for rest, relaxation and being with the people that make you happy.

6. Give them choices.

These days we spend so much time scheduling our kids into activity after activity. We shuffle them from place to place and hardly allow them to think for themselves. Give them choices about what they want to do, what they want to wear and (on occasion) what they want to eat. Ask them to choose something for the whole family to do one Sunday and see where life takes you.

The choices can be, of course, between two options you feel are suitable, but giving them choices empowers them and leads to confidence and happiness.

Letting your child choose what to wear can also lead to empowerment and happiness. Image via iStock.

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7. Set clear limits on your child’s behaviour.

Kids need to know what to expect and what is expected of them. It is important that your children know what the consequences will be if they break the rules.

Triple P say that rules should be few, fair, easy to follow, enforceable, and positively stated.

8. Laugh together.

Triple P say that children who feel good about themselves laugh spontaneously. Help them do just that through developing a sense of humour and learning to tell funny stories. Encourage your child to laugh by listening to their stories, playing games and having fun together.

"Children who feel good about themselves laugh spontaneously." Image via iStock.

9. Have fun.

Having a break in the routine, being together and having fun is all a part of being happy.

About two years ago my kids and I had been out to a late afternoon fundraiser and BBQ, they’d eaten sausages at around 4pm and I just knew there was no way they would be hungry for dinner. On the way out of the BBQ, a cake stall was selling the last few unsold cakes, so we scraped together $5 and bought a chocolate cake.

When we got home together we all decided to eat the cake for “dinner”.

We sat around the table and all had a slice. Such a simple thing, but to this day my kids tell me it was the best “dinner” that they have ever had.

Cake for dinner - who wouldn’t be happy with that?

How do you ensure your kids are happy (apart from cake)?