Parenting

5 Tips for Raising "Happy" Successful Children

01/05/2016 01:32pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017

2016-01-05-1451962018-383486-Bravergirlsphoto.PNGPhoto credit to Teresa Goldman

Without a doubt, parenting is simultaneously the most rewarding and difficult job we have as adults. As a child psychiatrist and mom, I am always asked if I find it easier to parent given my profession. I always respond by saying, "I was the perfect parent until I had children!"

I am also universally asked about how to raise "happy" children. I always pause before I attempt to answer this question. Happiness is fleeting and one of the best things we can do as parents is to allow our children to experience and cope with negative emotions such as sadness, anger, disappointment, and frustration. The real question, I believe, is how to raise successful children with a good sense of self -worth.

Here are my top five tips for raising a "happy" successful child!

1. Ensure that your child feels loved & valued. Give hugs generously. Be patient. Be attentive. Have a warm attitude. Appreciate the uniqueness of your child. Offer support and structure to provide security. A child that feels loved and valued is a child that feels understood, acknowledged, and respected. This creates a connected child who will be able to foster relationships with peers and the community. These relationships are the social connections that provide the foundation for a child's healthy emotional well-being.

2. Lead by example. Studies have shown that parents are the most significant influence on the emotional and moral development of their children, and our children listen and observe all that we do. We have all had the experience of having a private phone conversation, only to find our child repeat it verbatim, often at the most inopportune time. Be the best person you can be as a parent and model integrity. Show empathy and help your child label and validate their own emotions. Your child's capacity for empathy and his or her ability to effectively communicate feelings with others will be invaluable for future success.

3. Focus on building resilience in your child by allowing for success and failure. When your child does something well, praise something within the child's control. Compliment your child's effort and perseverance, as opposed to the achievement itself. Mastery of new skills builds more self-esteem than praise. Also, allow your child to fail, and even to feel disappointment. Allowing for mistakes provides your child with the opportunity to learn creative solutions, have the courage to face problems, and have the confidence necessary to take risks. Ultimately, early experience with failure leads to skills that are essential for future success.

4. Focus on your child's physical health. Healthy eating habits and physical activity are essential components of a healthy, successful lifestyle. As a parent, be a role model of healthy eating and physical activity. Good nutrition that includes fresh fruits and vegetables is a must. Limit sugar and processed foods as well as fast food. Eat together as a family whenever possible and encourage exercise by participating in physical activities as a family. The future success of your child depends not just on social-emotional development, but also on healthy physical development.

5. Encourage creative play. Kids of all ages love to play, and play is vital for healthy brain development. Young children learn best through meaningful play experiences. These experiences promote creativity, problem solving, and communication. Play also helps strengthen relationships. A child's motor development can be improved by playing, and playtime helps emotional development as it provides an outlet for expressing and coping with feelings. For older kids and teens, play is important for promoting independence, developing competence, and relieving stress. Playing is also fun, and fun is essential for true success.

Happy and successful parenting! If you have any helpful tips, feel free to comment below. Wishing all you all the very BEST, today and always!

Vanita Braver, MD is a mom, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, children's book author of the "Teach Your Children Well" (see www.drvanitabraver.com)

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