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W hen it comes to relationshipsmost of us are winging it. But a growing field of research into relationships is increasingly providing science-based guidance into the habits of the healthiest, happiest couples — and how to make any struggling relationship better. That responsiveness, in a nutshell, is all about sending a cue and having the other person respond to it. To foster emotional responsiveness between partners, Johnson pioneered Emotionally Focused Therapyin which couples learn to bond through having conversations that express needs and avoid criticism.


They want their children to be happy. On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love.

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They get better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries. They are more likely to get married, and once married, they are more satisfied with their marriage.

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Parental depression actually seems to cause behavioral problems in kids; it also makes our parenting less effective. Take some time each week to have fun with friends. Because laughter is contagious, hang out with friends or family members who are likely to be laughing themselves. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves. More scientific methods for increasing your happiness here.

Nobody denies learning about relationships is important — but how many parents actually spend the time to teach kids how to relate to others? It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy. This not only builds essential skills and makes your kids better people, research shows over the long haul it makes them happier.

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These helpers were especially protected against depression and anxiety. More on creating good relationships here. Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look. More on praising correctly here.

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Want to avoid dealing with a surly teenager? Then teach those pre-teens to look on the bright side. Ten-year-olds who are taught how to think and interpret the world optimistically are half as prone to depression when they later go through puberty.

More on how to encourage optimism here. Tell me about that. Relate to the child, help them identify what they are feeling and let them know that those feelings are okay even though bad behavior might not be.

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More on active listening and labeling and how hostage negotiators use this here. We can overcome that with good habits. Thinking through these methods is taxing but acting habitually is easy, once habits have been established. How do you help kids build lasting happiness habits? Carter explains a few powerful methods backed by research:. More on developing good habits here. Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence — or most anything else, for that matter. Kids who better resisted temptation went on to much better lives years later and were happier.

This is at least in part because self-discipline facilitates learning and information processing. In addition, self-disciplined kids cope better with frustration and stress and tend to have a greater sense of social responsibility. In other words, self-discipline le not just to school success and sitting nicely at the dinner table but to greater happiness, more friends and increased community engagement.

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Help kids learn to distract themselves from temptation. 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. More on increasing self-discipline here.

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We read a lot about mindfulness and meditation these days — and both are quite powerful. More playtime. Most kids already practice mindfulness — fully enjoying the present moment — when they play. Researchers believe that this dramatic drop in unstructured playtime is in part responsible for slowing kids cognitive and emotional development… In addition to helping kids learn to self-regulate, child-led, unstructured play with or without adults promoted intellectual, physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Unstructured play helps children learn how to work in groups, to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, regulate their emotions and behavior, and speak up for themselves.


No strict instructions are necessary here: Budget more time for your kids to just get outside and simply play. More on the power of playing for kids and adults here.

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Your efforts will be constrained by time and effort, while context affects us and children constantly. Sociologists show that happier people tend to watch considerably less television than unhappy people. But we do know that there are a lot of activities that will help our kids develop into happy, well-adjusted individuals. More non-television happiness activities are here. Sometimes all science does is validate those things our grandparents knew all along. Yes, family dinner matters. Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis are more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

They got better grades.

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And they are less likely to become obese or have an eating disorder. Family dinners even trump reading to your kids in terms of preparing them for school. And these associations hold even after researchers control for family connectedness…. More on the power of family dinners here.

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The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Get a free weekly update via here. Parent myths: How much of what your parents told you was wrong? Parents Newsletter up to receive the smartest parenting tips, news and tools.

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at letters time. By Eric Barker. Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents : … the well-being of children is more important to adults than just about anything else —health care, the well-being of seniors, the cost of living, terrorism, and the war in Iraq. Happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.

View Sample. Up Now. TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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This upheaval, the loss, the inequities laid bare by the pandemic has some people questioning: Do I deserve to be happy?