1. Be a happy parent
If you put your child’s needs ahead of your own, you risk sending the message that your own happiness is unimportant. In order to teach your children the importance of happiness, you must first value it for yourself. Happier at Home author Gretchen Rubin advises, “If I want a family with an affectionate, encouraging, and playful atmosphere, that is the spirit I must bring with me.”
2. Play games
To have a good time together, Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, recommends doing things like playing games, starting goofy traditions, and singing a silly song that everyone loves to make fun of. His family has a tradition of going around the table every Friday night and sharing the positive and negative things that happened to them that week. As per Feiler, “children acquire empathy and solidarity with others around them by witnessing others, including mom and dad, manage ups and downs in real time.”
3. Create a family mission statement
Have a family mission statement with your kids and post it as a symbol of your family’s shared values and goals. Alternatively, as Brene Brown, researcher and author of Daring Greatly, suggests, create your own parenting manifesto—your promises to your children—and put it where they can see it.
4. Give your kid plenty of opportunities to develop
Of course, if you want to do more than just boost your child’s self-esteem with compliments, you should provide them plenty of opportunities to grow and develop their talents. Edward Hallowell, M.D., a child psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, argues that the true self-esteem builder is mastery, rather than praise.
5. Accept failures with a smile
Although it’s hard to see our children experience setbacks, they’ll never learn the satisfaction that comes from succeeding if we never let them try. Actually, first attempts at most talents rarely result in ideal results. As with any skill, children can become experts through repeated effort. And by achieving success over and over again, they get the confidence and self-assurance to take on future challenges with the kind of enthusiasm and optimism that are essential to living a fulfilled life.