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Parenthood can prove quite difficult as children do not come with an operators manual, and for the most part, we find that it is mostly hit and miss. For most, the goal is to raise a happy and healthy child, however, what exactly does that mean?

While we continue to battle over the line of spoiling our children and making sure they are happy, science suggests a number of methods for raising happy, healthy children that will one day grow into productive adults.

1. Support Shy Children

Instead of trying to change the nature of your shy child, Sandee McClowry, a psychologist from New York University suggests embracing it as a part of who they are.

2. Learn to Be Happy Yourself

The happiness of the parent dramatically predicts the happiness of a child. Children see their parents demeanor, and without even realizing it, they subconsciously mimic it.

3. Teach Them Constructive Coping Mechanisms

It is the parent’s duty to teach a child about all aspect of life including positive self-talk, practicing gratitude and learning to understand how we are all connected to one another and to the world around us. Begin by helping your child to understand and manage their moods with healthy coping skills.

4. Help Your Child to Be Optimistic

While we all have a tendency to become overwhelmed with negativity, it is never good to get lost in that darkness. Instead, teach your child to see the good and the bad in a situation and to continually strive for goodness. 

5. Show Your Children How to Manage Their Moods

Instead of teaching your child that they are a slave to their emotions, show them how to not only monitor their moods but to learn how to notice negative thoughts before they give rise to negative actions. Then, show them how to choose positive thoughts instead.

6. Teach Them to Cultivate Happiness

Dance, sing and play with your children. When they are bored, show them how to entertain themselves simply and how to enjoy the small moments of happiness that life has to offer. 

7. Serve Others Together

Take your child to a local organization that accepts volunteers. Then, together with your child, take on the task to help your community and others. This will give your child a sense of accomplishment as well as humility.

8. Create a Routine With Them

Routine gives children a sense of who they are as a person, which in turn, will result in a happier and more secure child. For example, wake up with them at the same time each day, then eat breakfast at a set time, and take them to school at a set time. Create rituals and habits like cooking together, reading together, etc., and integrate it into your routine.

9. Slow Down

When your children are constantly in the midst of your busy and chaotic lifestyle, they never see you slowing down to enjoy life, which sets a precedent for them. Find moments to embrace with your child in spite of the chaos. 

10. Teach Your Children to Build Relationships

Building a relationship, just like raising a child, can be a daunting task. However, it is important for children to learn how to forge relationships in order for them to have healthy social lives.

11. Teach Self-Discipline

According to Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, “One way to do it is to obscure the temptation–to physically cover up the tempting marshmallow. When a reward is covered up, 75 percent of kids in one study were able to wait a full fifteen minutes for the second marshmallow; none of the kids was able to wait this long when the reward was visible.”

12. Stop Worrying So Much About Messes

Part of raising children includes being in the midst of a constant mess. And while it is absolutely healthy to clean these messes up, sometimes it is important to remember that a mess can be a side-effect of a fun and happy child. So, cook a messy meal with your kids, let them build a blanket fort, and let them play in the mud sometimes. These moments will most definitely produce a happier child.