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Do your research to keep a kid happy?



Reading can keep you informed on how to keep the children happy and healthy

What is it that makes a happy child? Not just the happiness that school is out for a few months, but what sustains that happiness throughout the year? Happiness research has become a hot topic and there are many popular books on the subject, like Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, in which the author offers research results that many would find surprising. Our popular culture, especially the media, is relentless in telling us what will make us and our children happy. Frequently what we are told – that we should pursue wealth, fame, and physical attractiveness – actually undermines happiness for both children and adults alike.

Child development specialists like Edward Hallowell, well-known psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Happiness, say that real happiness is “an inside job,” not a tangible present that you give a child. Hallowell echoes many other developmental specialists’ voices when he speaks disparagingly about the outcome for children who are overindulged with material goods or overprotected from emotional discomfort. He says that kids who fall into these two categories will grow into bored, joyless teenagers. He also says that the best predictors of continued happiness throughout life are developed internally.


Paul Schwartz, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College. He is available for speaking engagements to parent groups.