A long term study in childhood has reported that adverse events, such as abuse, neglect, parental divorce, domestic violence, incarceration or substance use, can determine health outcomes over a lifetime. Specifically less adverse events before the age of 18 is associated with

  • 67% lower dissatisfaction in life
  • 57% lower incidence of anxiety
  • 42% lower sense of hopelessness
  • 33% lower separation or divorce
  • 26% lower incidence of cardiovascular disease
  • 24% lower incidence of cancer
  • 21% lower alcohol dependence

On the other hand, another study has affirmed the need for cumulative, positive childhood experiences, such as:

  • Talking to loved ones about feelings
  • Having family support during difficult times
  • Participating in community traditions
  • Having a sense of belonging in school
  • Being supported by friends
  • Having interest and companionship from non-parent adults
  • Feeling safe and protected at home

More positive experiences results in a lower risk of depression in adulthood, by an astonishing 50% to 70%. This is a good reminder for us to prioritise family and create a nurturing environment for kids this year during Covid.

Ways to raise happy, positive kids include:

  • Be happy yourself – relax, enjoy hobbies, spend time with friends, iron out triggers and sources of stress in your life
  • Help them build relationships – acts of kindness can teach kids empathy and help them relate to others
  • Praise effort, not achievement (attention Tiger moms!)
  • Encourage optimism – help kids understand a different perspective, see opportunity as well as problems
  • Focus on EQ, emotional intellgience – empathise, play back and help find ways to develop understanding
  • Create happiness habits – set simple goals, celebrate progress, motivate and encourage participation
  • Allow adequate playtime
  • Teach self-discipline (especially delayed gratification)
  • Enjoy a family meal together, and less TV

References:

  • http://medicalrepublic.com.au/the-old-the-new-the-borrowed-and-the-blue/31479
  • https://time.com/35496/how-to-raise-happy-kids-10-steps-backed-by-science/
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