40 Things Children Should Learn That May Help Them Become Happier Adults

Children are very much like sponges in the way they take in their surroundings and learn from the behaviors of those around them. But what has the most impact on them? Here, we reveal the 40 things that kids should learn in order to have happiness as an adult.

40. How to connect with others

Forming positive relationships with people is important for any child. And according to some studies, it helps to prevent alcohol and drug abuse and emotional issues in later life. And it’s not just parents that children should connect with, but other relatives, peers and pets too. As child psychiatrist and The Childhood Roots Of Adult Happiness author Edward Hallowell, M.D. told Parents magazine, “A connected childhood is the key to happiness.”

39. Why they can’t get whatever they want instantly

Though parents want their children to be happy, it’s important to avoid quick fixes. Instead, experts explain that kids need to understand that they won’t always get everything they want. “If we put our kids in a bubble and grant them their every wish and desire, that is what they grow to expect, but the real world doesn’t work that way,” Bonnie Harris, who wrote When Your Kids Push Your Buttons: And What You Can Do About It, told Parents.

38. What a happy parent looks like

Putting a child’s needs first may be important, but it’s also crucial that their parent or guardian is happy too. According to Bob Murray, Ph.D., author of Raising an Optimistic Child: A Proven Plan for Depression-Proofing Young Children – for Life, kids with happier parents are more likely to be content themselves. By contrast, youngsters with parents who are depressed are twice as likely to struggle with depression.

37. What a positive parenting relationship looks like


Children take in everything around them – and that includes relationships. As Bob Murray explained, a child’s happiness can come from seeing a “really good, committed relationship,” in their parents. And as David Code, who wrote To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, told blogger Daniel Wong, “Families centered on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children. We parents today are too quick to sacrifice our lives and marriages for our kids.”

36. Why it’s their efforts rather than their results that matter

Parents are advised to be cautious when it comes to giving praise to their children. Simply applauding their looks and skills can result in them feeling like that’s the only way to gain favor with others. Instead, parents are encouraged to teach kids that it’s effort that matters more than outcome. “Praise the creativity, the hard work, the persistence, that goes into achieving, more than the achievement itself,” Murray explained to Parents.

35. Experiencing failure as well as success


It’s common for children to be praised when they succeed in learning new things. But it’s also important to let them discover that they won’t always get it right on their first go. Failure is a part of life and they need to find out what they’re capable of. Letting them learn for themselves helps them to develop a healthy and positive outlook on fresh challenges.

34. Practice makes perfect

At the same time, children should learn that they can achieve things if they put the effort in and keep trying. The more they are taught that practice makes perfect, the more satisfaction they’ll get when they conquer a new skill. And it’s those experiences that help to manifest self-esteem in later life.

33. Responsibilities


Certain studies have shown that one of the keys to happiness is the feeling of being needed by others. That’s why giving children responsibilities that make them feel like they’re adding to the family can give them self-confidence. And it builds their relationships with others – which they will hold onto in future.

32. How to practice gratitude

Making gratitude part of everyday life helps nurture the welfare of children. Some experts recommend encouraging youngsters to keep a gratitude journal or to simply speak about things they appreciate each day. “This is one habit that will foster all kinds of positive emotions and it really can lead to lasting happiness,” University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center executive director Christine Carter, Ph.D. told Parents.

31. How to have structure in their lives


People often have to face the unknown in their lives. But giving them structure at a young age can help them cope with change later on. That’s because the familiarity they get from routine allows them to take control of their own lives. And therefore they are better able to deal with difficult and unpredictable changes when they arise.

30. The importance of nutrition

Of course, nutrition plays a factor throughout our lives. And creating a healthy attitude toward food and eating early on in life is crucial. That’s because the practices that we develop as children stay with us – meaning our diet choices as adults can stem from habits we formed in our early years.

29. The importance of physical activity


Teaching the importance of physical activity early on creates positive habits in later life. Not only does it keep children healthy as far as their weight, posture and joints are concerned, but it also teaches them how to make friends and pick up new skills. These are all things that children can continue to gain advantages from as they get older.

28. The importance of getting a good night’s sleep

Scientific research has proven that sleeping well promotes happiness – as well as having several other benefits. It cultivates creativity and emotional stability, as well as increasing brain activity and focus and preventing obesity. And giving children a regular bedtime each night can help them get into a healthy sleep routine.

27. Why a good education makes a difference


It won’t come as a surprise to learn that having a good education can impact us forever. It can build character and help children to form their own beliefs and thoughts about the world. And as well as teaching intellectual knowledge, it gives people an understanding of life that they will use for years to come.

26. To believe in their potential

We’re all different and that means that children excel at different things in life. But it’s important to identify the areas where they shine and where they may need help. Believing in a child causes them to believe in themselves and unlock their full potential. And this self-belief is something they will carry with them as they age.

25. How to be optimistic


Studies have shown that children who are taught to have an optimistic outlook on life are half as likely to go through depression in adolescence. And learning optimism also prevents depression and anxiety in later years. What’s more, it’s associated with people who are physically healthier and have longer lives, better relationships and more success in their studies and career.

24. How to understand their moods

While growing up, children need to learn how to manage their moods. This helps their concentration which, in turn, sets them up for success in later life. Parents are encouraged to show their own emotional intelligence and help their kids to identify their moods so they can better understand them.

23. Not to have too many goals at once


It’s advised to give children goals that they can strive for to help them become the best versions of themselves. But giving them too many things to aim for at once actually becomes counterproductive. Instead, teaching them one positive habit at a time is more likely to boost their determination and make it stick.

22. Why distractions such as television should be limited

The effects of too much television can be shocking for children. In fact, the habits of 4,000 teens were studied and it was discovered that the more they watched TV, the more likely they were to struggle with depression. Instead, it’s advised to restrict screen-time and encourage them to play outside.

21. Self-discipline


Interestingly, it’s not intelligence that is the biggest indicator of future success. By some accounts, that actually comes from self-discipline more than anything else. Self-discipline helps children go do well in school, understand information better, deal with difficulties and become happier. That’s why it’s advised to teach them how to avoid temptation.

20. The importance of playtime

Some experts have encouraged children to practice mindfulness and meditation. But while it may not be easy to get kids meditating, it’s been proposed that playtime is also effective. That’s because when they play, they are living in the moment – and therefore practicing mindfulness. It benefits young people both physically and mentally, as well as teaching them important social skills.

19. The importance of eating dinner together


Family dinners can have more of an impact than most people realize. Indeed, some studies have shown it to be more beneficial than reading, in terms of getting a child ready for life at school. It gives kids stability, meaning that they’re less likely to get involved in risky behaviors. Family dinners also boost intelligence and help prevent depression, obesity and eating disorders.

18. What positive praise and reassurance looks like

It has been shown that people who are happier give themselves encouragement and recognition. And this is something that children can pick up from a young age. Parents are advised to practice this kind of self-belief in front of their kids, so that they will imitate the behavior and carry it with them.

17. The joy in everyday things


Children follow the lead of their parents and guardians when it comes to the way they look at life. And those that can appreciate the world around them tend to be happier. That’s why it’s advised to see joy in the things others may take for granted, such as in nature – and teach kids to do the same.

16. Experiencing emotions

It’s important for children to go through different emotions and not to hold them in. They should be encouraged to understand that all emotions are okay, but that this doesn’t mean that all actions are. This can help them control their behavior, manage their feelings and improve their overall physical health.

15. That money can’t buy happiness


It’s easy for children to pick up on the fact that we’re often led to believe money is the root of happiness. But they are more likely to follow the example of those around them when it comes to their attitude toward this subject. So showing them that money can’t buy joy is a valuable lesson.

14. The joy in giving and helping others

Teaching children to give back to the community not only helps others, but it also benefits them. In fact, contributing to society is linked to happiness, because it makes kids feel as though they’re doing something important. Indeed, studies have shown children to feel happier through giving things to others, rather than through receiving things themselves.

13. The importance of celebrating happy occasions together


As children absorb a lot of what they see around them, it’s critical for them to grow up in a happy home. Understandably, our surroundings during childhood can deeply affect the futures that we lead. That’s why it’s important for families to celebrate positive occasions like birthdays together – they foster happiness.

12. Boundaries

Setting boundaries is one of the best ways to ensure children grow up with the self-assurance they need to be successful. So putting rules in place and explaining the reasoning behind them helps kids to fulfill their potential. And it brings them closer to their parents, because they can see that their parents want the best for them.

11. How to make their own choices


Dr. Rich Gilman found in his research that it was 24 percent more probable that children would like going to school if they got to pick their own activities. Creating their own rituals and aims also gives them better concentration and self-restraint. It’s even advised by some to let youngsters pick their own punishments, as this might actually leads to less bad behavior.

10. How to have a healthy body image

A survey found that one-third of girls aged 13 weren’t happy with their weight – and boys can also have a negative body image. The way we perceive our bodies and others’ is based on our parents. A study by Dove has suggested that 69 percent of moms have spoken negatively about their figures with children present. But by raising kids to have a healthy relationship with their bodies, parents can pass on a positive body image.

9. Forgiveness


Learning to forgive promotes a positive outlook and allows us to see negative experiences in an optimistic way. That’s why understanding forgiveness is a crucial part of making children happier and more fulfilled in life. By contrast, holding grudges or experiencing vengefulness can contribute to anxiety and depression.

8. How to be disciplined without shouting

It’s important for kids to understand the consequences of their actions and to develop self-discipline. That’s how they learn key social skills, respect for elders and restraint. Discipline can actually promote happiness, but not through shouting. Children can develop insecurities and be tense if they grow up in a home where there is lots of yelling.

7. How to have rituals


Having rituals as a family not only brings you closer together but also boosts a child’s social skills. Practicing daily activities such as brushing their teeth and tidying up also has a positive impact. Getting children used to a day-to-day routine helps them be organized and able to look after themselves as they grow.

6. Their family history

Learning about our family history can be vital when it comes to our health. But it’s also a way for us to connect with our relatives. Furthermore, research has been carried out that shows children who know about their family background have higher self-worth, leading to them being more content and successful in adulthood.

5. Doing chores


Assigning chores can teach children responsibility, instill a work ethic and show them the importance of teamwork. And Julie Lythcott-Haims, who wrote How To Raise An Adult, explained why this is so crucial in a November 2015 TED Talk. “If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” she said. “And so they’re absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the betterment of the whole.”

4. Entrepreneurship

Research has suggested that prosperous businesspeople learned about entrepreneurship during childhood. Through watching industrious elders and the way they work, a young person might become inspired and driven to succeed. Indeed, it’s suggested by some that children should learn about money and business, such as through doing chores for cash.

3. How to deal with life’s ups and downs


Everyone experiences hardships in life, but it’s how we deal with those difficult times that really matters. Encouraging a child to understand that they will sometimes get upset, but that this is normal, helps them to stay happy. The ability of parents to deal with a tough occasion in a positive way can rub off on their children.

2. Reading and doing math

Reading and doing mathematics are significant indicators of future success in studying, according to at least one piece of research. That’s why it’s important for children to practice these things beyond the walls of their classroom. Interestingly, 63 percent of self-made millionaires interviewed in a study by writer Thomas Curley declared that their parents made them read at least two books each month when they were younger.

1. How to meet expectations


As previously mentioned, believing in a child helps them to believe in their own abilities. And similarly, setting high expectations can have an effect on youngsters attempting to meet these goals. As U.C.L.A. Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities director Neal Halfon, M.D., M.P.H. told Pediatrics, “Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets.”