Sunday, February 22, 2015

"10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children" by Marc Chernoff PART #2

Train a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:6 


"10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children"  by Marc Chernoff PART #2

6.  Eat dinner together as a family.

Eating dinner together makes a difference.  According to The Secrets of Happy Families, children who have dinner with their families do better across pretty much every conceivable metric.  “A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, become depressed, and develop eating disorders.”
Additional research also suggests that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem in the long run.  The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that “the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems.  Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.”
Even if eating dinner together every night isn’t possible, you should make it a point to eat together as a family at least once a week.

7.  Create logical, reasonable rules and boundaries for your children.

Children don’t do well in a free-for-all environment.  It’s a myth that being too strict guarantees rebellion and being permissive drives better behavior.  From the research we’ve done, it’s clear that children who go crazy and get in trouble mostly have parents who don’t set reasonable rules and boundaries.  If their parents are loving and accepting no matter what they do — even when they are unruly — children take their parent’s lack of rules as a sign that they don’t really care about them — that they don’t really want the job of being parents in the first place.
On the flip side, parents who are consistent in enforcing rules and boundaries are often the same parents who become the closest with their children.  According to a Penn State study by Dr. Nancy Darling and Dr. Linda Caldwell, parents that set logical rules pertaining to key principles of influence, and explain why the rules are there, engage more closely with the children and ultimately have a happier, healthier relationship with them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should over-do the rules, or make rules just for the sake of making rules.  Parents that are too controlling raise children that are stifled and bored.  And stifled, bored kids are likely to rebel.
Again, via Dr. Linda Caldwell, “Even busy kids get bored, for two common reasons.  First, they are doing lots of activities only because their parents signed them up — there’s no intrinsic motivation.  Second, they’re so accustomed to their parents filling their free time that they don’t know how to productively fill it on their own.”  And thus, they often turn to mischief or even substance abuse when their parents back off or aren’t around.

8.  Give your children an opportunity to make healthy peer relationships.

The peer group your children associate with has an enormous effect on their long-term happiness and educational aspirations.  As parents, we sometimes only talk to our children about peer pressure when it’s negative, but more often than not, it’s positive.  Living in a nice child-friendly neighborhood, going to highly rated schools, and making sure your children associate with the right peers can make a world of difference.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shows that the easiest way for a college kid to improve their grade point average and self-confidence in class is to simply pick a smart, supportive roommate.  He found that “when students with low grade-point averages simply began rooming with higher-scoring students, their grade-point averages increased.”  These students, according to the researchers, “appeared to infect each other with good and bad habits — such that a roommate with a high grade-point average would drag upward the grade point average of his lower-scoring roommate.”
Bottom line:  As a human being, you are the average of the people you spend the most time with.  And that’s why it’s not always where you are in life, but who you have by your side that matters most.  The same is true for your children.

9.  Make sure your children get enough sleep every night.

A tired mind is rarely constructive or content.  And it’s even worse for children than it is for adults.  According to the insightful book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader.  Even a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to the loss of two years of cognitive development to the typical child.
There’s also a direct correlation between good grades and the average amount of sleep a child gets.  Teens who received A’s average about fifteen more minutes of sleep than B students, who in turn average fifteen more minutes than C’s, and so on.  The data from NurtureShock was almost an exact replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 high schoolers that’s referenced in the book.  Certainly, these are averages, but the consistency of the two studies stands out.  For children, every fifteen minutes of sleep counts.

10.  Help your children maintain a gratitude journal.

In 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently, Angel and I discuss the powerful benefits of keeping a gratitude journal.  And the good news is, it works for children too.
Again, via the NurtureShock: “In one celebrated example, Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, asked teenage students to keep a gratitude journal — over ten weeks, the young undergrads listed five things that had happened in the last week which they were thankful for.  The results were surprisingly powerful — the students who kept the gratitude journal were 25% happier, were more optimistic about the future, and got sick less often during the controlled trial.  They even got more exercise.”
Bottom line:  Children who keep a gratitude journal are happier, more optimistic, and healthier.  As soon as your child is old enough, help them start one.


Angel and I have learned a lot from the research we’ve done, but one thing really stands out to me.  It’s clear that truly happy, well-nurtured children become successful people almost automatically.  In other words, healthy parenting creates happier children that are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults in the long run.
Also, happiness by itself, for all of us, is a tremendous advantage in a society that emphasizes high performance.  On average, happy people are more successful than their unhappy counterparts in all walks of life.  Because they feel better, they put in higher levels of effort and get better performance reviews, have more prestigious careers, earn higher salaries, and they’re also more likely to maintain happier, healthier relationships.

Which number stood out to you? Why? 

Pray that God would help you see your area of weaknesses and ask Him for help in that area!

Life is a journey! Don't beat yourself up...just allow those moments of revelation to catapult you into action!

Commit your plans unto the Lord 
and they will succeed. 
- Proverbs 16:3

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