What Parents Can Do To Boost Their Child’s Happiness

Over recent years researchers have identified a number of different practices that can increase levels of happiness and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety. One of these exercises is called ‘3 Good Things’. Positive psychologists Martin Seligman and Tracy Steen found that when people thought about 3 Good Things that had happened in their day, and why they had happened, their levels of happiness improved over time.

When it finally gets to the end of the day it can be easy to think about all the things that have been frustrating or we have failed to achieve. However, making the conscious shift to consider 3 Good Things that happened in your day and why they happened can be a proactive way to reflect positively on the day. You can try it with your children too. Here are a couple of ideas to help you incorporate this practice into family life:

1. Mealtimes

When you are eating dinner, turn the TV off, and ask each family member in turn to list 3 Good Things about their day and why they happened. Offer praise and encouragement such as “Well isn’t that fantastic, you had a great time with your friends because you were all taking it in turns”, or “So you finished your house in Minecraft because you were patient and persisted”.

2. Make up a Nighttime Card

This works best with younger children. Ask your child to help you make a poster titled ‘My Nighttime Card’. On the poster write ‘What were 3 Good Things about my day?’. If your child finds it too difficult to work out why these things happened, try adding to the card two more questions such as “When did I feel loved today? And when did I feel happy today?”. Put the Nighttime Card on the wall next to where they sleep and then go through the questions at night as part of your nighttime routine.

3. Try texting

Younger children will often be quite easy to engage in the above activities, however as children get older they are less likely to want to communicate face to face and tend to find the above exercises ‘embarrassing’. Christine Carter, the author of Raising Happiness, says that she and her teenage children now text their 3 Good Things to each other, as they refuse to do it face to face. So rather than not do it at all, she texts them at the end of the day as a way of staying in touch and continuing to teach them to be positive.

See how you go with these exercises because even just a little bit more happiness is a good thing!

By Emma Bevan for Emma Bevan Child Psychologist