Parent Magazine Flagler December 2019 - Page 16

Happy Family, Happy Life Learn eight simple secrets of happy families By Christa Melnyk Hines H appiness can vary depending on our personal circumstances. But why are some families more resilient and happier despite the obstacles life throws their way? They hang out together. Happy families feel a strong with their sons, which includes reading books together and quietly reflecting on the day. They cheer for each other. Celebrate your kids’ interests and successes by acknowledging their efforts rather than zeroing in on what went wrong: sense of connection with each other. According to child- family therapist Jennifer Jackson-Rice, LSCSW/LSCW, real connection takes as little as five minutes a day. • “I loved watching you play.” Sit next to each other during homework time, cook together, read books at bedtime, and chat with each while driving to activities. • “Great job on your test. I can tell you really concentrated.” Create calmer, more cheerful mornings by prepping the night before or getting yourself up a little earlier. “When we praise our children, self-esteem goes up. When self-esteem is high, connection is good, behaviors are good,” Jackson-Rice says. “That connection in the first part of the day can carry kids throughout the day,” Jackson-Rice says. They seek fulfillment. While material items like the Michelle Hon, a mom of two boys, ages 4 and 2, agrees. She says that the first 30 minutes in the morning and the last 30 minutes before bedtime help her family feel grounded, calm and loved. “We do a lot of snuggles and cuddles in the morning, and we try not to make that a rushed time in our home,” Hon says. In the evening, she and her husband Michael stick to a bedtime routine 14 | F L A G L E R parent M A G A Z I N E • “I like how you colored this so neatly!” latest electronics, designer jeans and trendy toys may bring fleeting joy, they won’t deliver lasting contentment. “I don’t think we can teach our kids to be happy if we’re looking to external sources to feed that emotion,” says Cati Winkel, owner of The Empowered Parent Coach. And that includes looking to others for validation of self-worth, which can result in behaviors like people-pleasing or obsessing over likes on social media.