7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child

7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child

Give your child the skills to rebound from setbacks and pave the way to success.

We all want the same things for our kids. We want them to grow up to love and be loved, to follow their dreams, to find success. Mostly, though, we want them to be happy. But just how much control do we have over our children’s happiness? My son, Jake, now 7, has been a rather somber child since birth, while my 5-year-old, Sophie, is perennially sunny. Jake wakes up grumpy. Always has. Sophie, on the other hand, greets every day with a smile. Evident from infancy, their temperaments come, at least in part, from their genes. But that doesn’t mean their ultimate happiness is predetermined, assures Bob Murray, PhD, author of Raising an Optimistic Child: A Proven Plan for Depression-Proofing Young Children — for Life (McGraw-Hill). “There may be a genetic propensity for depression, but our genes are malleable and can be switched on or off depending on the environment,” he says. “The research clearly shows that happy, optimistic children are the product of happy, optimistic homes, regardless of genetic makeup.” What can you do to create a home where your child’s happiness will flourish? Read on for seven strategies that will strengthen your child’s capacity to experience joy.

1. Foster Connections

Photo from cloudfront.net

The surest way to promote your child’s lifelong emotional well-being is to help him feel connected — to you, other family members, friends, neighbors, daycare providers, even to pets. “A connected childhood is the key to happiness,” says Edward Hallowell, MD, child psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness (Ballantine Books). Dr. Hallowell points as evidence to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, involving some 90,000 teens, in which “connectedness” — a feeling of being loved, understood, wanted, acknowledged — emerged as by far the biggest protector against emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, and risky behaviors including smoking, drinking, and using drugs.

Fortunately, we can cement our child’s primary and most crucial connection — to us — simply by offering what Dr. Hallowell calls the crazy love that never quits. “It sounds hokey, and it’s often dismissed as a given,” he says, “but if a child has just one person who loves him unconditionally, that’s the closest thing he’ll ever get to an inoculation against misery.” It’s not enough, however, simply to possess that deep love; your child must feel it, too, Dr. Hallowell says. Hold your baby as much as possible; respond with empathy to his cries; read aloud to him; eat, snuggle, and laugh together.

Meanwhile, provide chances for him to form loving connections with others as well, advises sociologist Christine Carter, PhD, executive director of the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, an organization devoted to the scientific understanding of happiness. “We know from 50 years of research that social connections are an incredibly important, if not the most important, contributor to happiness,” Carter says. “And it’s not just the quality, but also the quantity of the bonds: the more connections your child makes, the better.”


2. Don’t Try to Make Your Child Happy

Photo from TheAsianParent.com

It sounds counterintuitive, but the best thing you can do for your child’s long-term happiness may be to stop trying to keep her happy in the short-term. “If we put our kids in a bubble and grant them their every wish and desire, that is what they grow to expect, but the real world doesn’t work that way,” says Bonnie Harris, founder of Core Parenting, in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and author of When Your Kids Push Your Buttons: And What You Can Do About It (Grand Central Publishing).

To keep from overcoddling, recognize that you are not responsible for your child’s happiness, Harris urges. Parents who feel responsible for their kids’ emotions have great difficulty allowing them to experience anger, sadness, or frustration. We swoop in immediately to give them whatever we think will bring a smile or to solve whatever is causing them distress. Unfortunately, Harris warns, children who never learn to deal with negative emotions are in danger of being crushed by them as adolescents and adults.

Once you accept that you can’t make your child feel happiness (or any other emotion for that matter), you’ll be less inclined to try to “fix” her feelings — and more likely to step back and allow her to develop the coping skills and resilience she’ll need to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.


3. Nurture Your Happiness

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While we can’t control our children’s happiness, we are responsible for our own. And because children absorb everything from us, our moods matter. Happy parents are likely to have happy kids, while children of depressed parents suffer twice the average rate of depression, Murray observes. Consequently, one of the best things you can do for your child’s emotional well-being is to attend to yours: carve out time for rest, relaxation, and, perhaps most important, romance. Nurture your relationship with your spouse. “If parents have a really good, committed relationship,” Murray says, “the child’s happiness often naturally follows.”


4. Praise the Right Stuff

Photo from Rappler.com

Not surprisingly, studies consistently link self-esteem and happiness. Our children can’t have one without the other. It’s something we know intuitively, and it turns many of us into overzealous cheerleaders. Our child scribbles and we declare him a Picasso, scores a goal and he’s the next Beckham, adds 1 and 2 and he’s ready for Mensa. But this sort of “achievement praise” can backfire.

“The danger, if this is the only kind of praise a child hears, is that he’ll think he needs to achieve to win your approval,” Murray explains. “He’ll become afraid that if he doesn’t succeed, he’ll fall off the pedestal and his parents won’t love him anymore.” Praising specific traits — intelligence, prettiness, athleticism — can also undermine children’s confidence later, if they grow up believing they’re valued for something that’s out of their control and potentially fleeting.

“If you praise your child primarily for being pretty, for example, what happens when she grows old and loses that beauty?” Murray asks. “How many facials will it take for her to feel worthwhile?” Interestingly, Murray adds, research shows that kids who are praised mainly for being bright become intellectually timid, fearing that they will be seen as less smart — and less valuable — if they fail.

The antidote, however, is not to withhold praise but rather to redirect it, Murray says. “Praise the effort rather than the result,” he advises. “Praise the creativity, the hard work, the persistence, that goes into achieving, more than the achievement itself.”

The goal, Carter agrees, is to foster in your child a “growth mind-set,” or the belief that people achieve through hard work and practice, more than through innate talent. “Kids who are labeled as having innate talent feel they need to prove themselves again and again,” Carter observes. “Whereas studies show kids with a growth mind-set do better and enjoy their activities more because they aren’t worried what people will think of them if they fail.” Fortunately, Carter says, research has shown it’s possible to instill a growth mind-set in children with one simple line of praise: you did really well on X; you must have worked really hard. “So we’re not saying don’t praise,” Carter stresses. “Just focus on something within your child’s control.”


5. Allow for Success and Failure

Photo from rmncdn.com

Of course, if you really want to bolster your child’s self-esteem, focus less on compliments and more on providing her with ample opportunities to learn new skills. Mastery, not praise, is the real self-esteem builder, Dr. Hallowell says. Fortunately, when it comes to the under-4 crowd, nearly everything they do is a chance to attain mastery — because it’s all new to them: learning to crawl, walk, feed and dress themselves, use the potty, and ride a tricycle. Our challenge is to stand back and let our children do for themselves what they’re capable of. “The great mistake good parents make is doing too much for their children,” Dr. Hallowell says.

While it can be difficult to watch our kids struggle, they’ll never know the thrill of mastery unless we allow them to risk failure. Few skills are perfected on a first try. It’s through practice that children achieve mastery. And through repeated experiences of mastery, they develop the can-do attitude that lets them approach future challenges with the zest and optimism that are central to a happy life.


6. Give Real Responsibilities

Photo from medicaldaily.com

“Happiness depends largely on the feeling that what we do matters and is valued by others,” Murray observes. “Without that feeling, we fear we might be excluded from the group. And research shows that what human beings fear more than anything is exclusion.”

In other words, people have an innate need to be needed. So the more you can convey to your child that he is making a unique contribution to the family, from an early age, the greater his sense of self-worth and his ultimate happiness. Kids as young as 3 can play meaningful family roles, Murray says, whether it’s refilling the cat’s dry-food bowl or setting out the napkins at dinnertime. If possible, assign a role that plays to your child’s strengths. For example, if your little one loves to organize things, give him the job of sorting the forks and spoons. If he’s particularly nurturing, perhaps his role could be entertaining his baby sister while you get dinner on the table. So long as you acknowledge that he’s making a contribution to the family, it will heighten your child’s sense of connection and confidence, two prerequisites for lasting happiness.


7. Practice Habitual Gratitude

Photo from cloudfront.net

Finally, happiness studies consistently link feelings of gratitude to emotional well-being. Research at the University of California, Davis, and elsewhere has shown that people who keep daily or weekly gratitude journals feel more optimistic, make more progress toward goals, and feel better about their lives overall. For a child, keeping a journal may be unrealistic. But one way to foster gratitude in children is to ask that each member of the family take time daily — before or during a meal, for example — to name aloud something he or she is thankful for, Carter suggests. The important thing is to make it a regular ritual. “This is one habit that will foster all kinds of positive emotions,” she assures, “and it really can lead to lasting happiness.”

Written by Marguerite Lamb from the May 2008 issue of American Baby Magazine.

Teach Your Kids to Cook

Teach Your Kids to Cook

Teaching your kids to cook is like teaching them to drive, only harder. There’s no imaginary brake, for one thing, and you’ll go through more eggs.

Photo from Natural Awakenings Magazine

As parents, many of us take great pleasure in feeding our children — in watching them enjoy the fruits of our labor and nourishing their bodies with rib-sticking fare. But at some point, as our kids get older and more responsible, we need to provide them with the knowledge and tools to begin feeding themselves.

Here are five simple tips to get you started.

Photo from The Huffington Post

1. Keep the mood light.

Kitchens brim with potentially dangerous equipment. From hot stoves to sharp knives, there’s plenty around to make you nervous — but steel yourself. Kids can read anxiety, and if you’re not relaxed, they won’t be either. Supervise them closely and be aware of hazards, but proceed anyway, with an upbeat voice and smiling eyes.

Photo from Harvard Magazine

2. Strike a deal.

Kids take to new learning opportunities best when they have a stake in the outcome, so make them part of the process. If they want to make cookies, let them. But the next lesson is yours to choose. Alternate between treats and more healthful, everyday fare, from cookies and pies to salads and smoothies.

Photo from Rollins 360

3. Don’t neglect terminology.

Kids are blank slates, and words like fold, sear, and sauté are meaningless until properly defined. You can use easier words if you like, but why bother? Mastering a new lexicon is part of skill-building; plus, kids are sponges when it comes to language acquisition. Soon they’ll be bandying about new words like natives. (“Mom, can I go sauté up and down on your bed?”)

Photo from CTV

4. Dig deeper.

Teaching kids to cook also presents opportunities to talk about culture, family history, nutrition, food politics, and hunger. Depending on your child’s age, consider sprinkling your lessons with gentle forays into these deeper waters, avoiding heavy-handed moralizing but introducing your kids to some of the broader issues surrounding food. You’re not just educating a future cook; you’re influencing a lifelong eater.

Photo from FamilyEducation.com

5. Keep your eye on the prize.

Your ultimate goal is not the creation of restaurant-quality dishes, but boosting your child’s self-esteem and encouraging their burgeoning independence. If, at the end of your lessons, you’ve got a happy kid who’s excited to spend time in the kitchen, you’ve done your job, and done it well.

Written by Cheryl Sternman Rule in Parents.com

BKFEP’s 5 Family Activities to Celebrate Labor Day

BKFEP’s 5 Family Activities to Celebrate Labor Day

Being a child is the best experience you could ever have in your life!

Two or three decades from now, they’ll probably be asked by a human resource personnel for a job interview of their wonderful experiences in the past, and the first they’ll surely go through are their childhood experiences.

For many, reminiscing childhood memories is the most unforgettable as this is the time when stress, dizziness, and realities of life are still coated with their purest joy.

But what if they can’t think of a great childhood story? That would definitely be alarming!

Moms and Dads, don’t ever wait for that moment, be part of their happy childhood memories!

With this year’s Labor day falling on a Monday, you are guaranteed of an ample amount of time to make this coming long weekend a precious one!

Creating memories and sharing happiness should not be pricey. If you’re tired going out for shopping malls, amusements parks, and other out-of-town visits, you can venture on lively, intimate, and energetic  family bonding activities even inside the four-corners of your home sweetie home!


With most parents spending office works during the weekdays, having some sort of a story telling with your kids is the best way in knowing what they have been through during the entire week!

Aside from the usual story book reading, you can even talk to your child about how you’ve been in your work, trying to chit-chat on some gossips, knowing their idols and crushes, throwing and cracking silly jokes, talking about trends on games, entertainment, movies, etc. You can even bring snacks such as popcorns and play cards to make the talking rolling until it branches out.

Remember, getting acquainted first with their “what’s” can give you some ideas on how to plan in spending the rest of the weekend with them.


Kids’ tummies are at its best when you serve them with the food that they like, but what if you let them join in preparing it?

Visiting the kitchen and letting them experience some sort of a home economics activity such as cracking eggs, mixing flour in a bowl, baking cookies, smattering sprinkles may be of small gestures, but it would totally be of both fun and learning for them.

You can even use this perfect opportunity in trying to experiment new variant of foods and delicacies. Introducing new recipes with greens as ingredients can be of a nice idea!

For fruits, making the Pinoy dessert, Halo-Halo is a good choice, but this time try to discover new fruit blends and combinations for a new satisfactory taste.

As early as now, let them appreciate the nutritional value of these edibles for their health and diet.


If you’re looking for some thrill, setting up an actual camp site in your backyard can be possible!

But if you don’t have an open space outside, you can even camp out in your living room.

Simulate a camping vibe by setting up a tent and lit a fire.  Prepare marshmallows on sticks and have some sort of s’mores making activity. And if you’re doing this inside a room, you don’t even need to buy for an expensive tent, roll out the blankets! This can be a best substitute and have a pretzel party instead!

Though its summer, make sure all of you wear a sweater or a jacket for best experience!


This list won’t surely end without the challenging mind activities.

Board games may sound typical but the thrill that it can give every time stays definitely the same and even higher!

The unending chess board game, monopoly, scrabble, uno cards, snake and ladders, the word-draining scrabble, stack and match, and many more can be of best choice.

You can even check online game apps if you’re looking for something new and fascinating! Trying math-solving activities can be of great help to harness the logic and mathematical skills of your children!


The cutest of all? Show the world your oneness through shirts!

Making personalized family shirt with your children can be of an exciting activity. Letting them burst their artsy side in throwing for good combinations of colors, shapes, and designs is a good way to boost their creative and imaginative thinking.

Invest a little for good coloring paints. For shirts, used plain shirts can do. It’s nice if you’ll be having a uniform color as well as a design that will surely depict the characteristics of your family.

These DIY shirts can be of use every weekend and family hangouts, a family uniform indeed!

With these ways, there is no reason to be run-out of simple yet enjoying bunch of family bonding activities and ideas.

 Now, your child can speak of his wonderful childhood experiences in the near future!

The dad-friendly guide to changing a diaper

The dad-friendly guide to changing a diaper

New dads, if you’re having any doubts or trepidations about this whole “baby care” thing, there’s a big chance that it has a lot to do with the dirty business. I’m of course referring to changing a diaper. Sure, moms handle these messy situations like pros; they’re naturals at baby care. Dads, however, may require a little training.

There’s always been something funny about the struggle dads endure when changing a diaper. Whether it’s in movies and television shows, or in viral videos like this one, the imagery of dads changing diapers is more comical than common. Well, today we’re going to put an end to this common parenting stereotype!

Not all dads struggle with the basics of baby care. In fact, some are masters! But if you’re having doubts about your diaper changing skills, or simply wish to improve then you owe it to yourself to check out our dad-friendly guide to changing a diaper.

Step 1:

The first thing you need to do is make sure everything you need is within reach. That means that things like wipes, warm water, washcloths, diaper cream, baby powder, fresh diapers, clean clothes, etc. Make sure it’s all right where you need it, dads!

Step 2:

Next, we’ll get to the real work! Make sure your baby is resting on his back on the changing table/station (or wherever you’re handling the business). Unfold your handy clean diaper and lay it to either side. Keep in mind, dads: it may be months before your baby is able to roll over, but you should keep a hand on him at all times when he’s on the changing table. The point of step one was to ensure that you don’t let baby out of your sight for a second!

Step 3:

Before removing the diaper, place another fresh diaper beneath your baby in case of…emergency. Next, begin to remove and the dirty diaper. If you have a baby boy, you may want to utilize that washcloth you have at your side. Place it over his groin area in case he decides he wants to play “target practice”. While removing the soiled diaper, you may want to try our different ways to distract them. Try singing, making silly faces, anything really. Just keep them distracted from the task at hand.

Step 4:

The golden rule of diaper changing comes in handy during this step: wipe from front to back. Another helpful and resourceful tip during this step: use the clean parts of the soiled diaper (if any) to clean up as much of the mess as you can. Depending on the age of your infant, you may encounter meconium. If that’s the case, we’ve got one more helpful tip for this step: warm water and a washcloth or oil and washcloth work equally effective in cleaning meconium. The trick is to experiment and see what you find most effective for you.

Step 5:

Diaper rash occurs when you don;t let the diaper region dry before applying cream and/or strapping baby into a new diaper. Make sure you let baby dry off completely from the cleaning process before you apply diaper cream/ointment and then change the diaper. One trick of the trade is to lightly dry your baby with a clean, dry washcloth to speed the process. Or you can lightly blow on their skin. Also, apply the cream with modesty, dads. No need to go overboard!

Step 6:

Now comes the easy stuff, dads. Lift your baby’s legs and place the unfolded, fresh diaper (that one you’d placed aside earlier in step 1) underneath baby. Pull the front of the diaper between the legs and then fasten. Voila!

Step 7:

Next comes handling and managing the odor and mess that the dirty diaper can produce. Carefully roll up the diaper for tossing it in the waste then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Finally, you can look yourself in the mirror and feel proud. You’ve mastered the art of the diaper change, dad!


Source: ph.theasianparent.com

5 Best Places to Spend your Holy Week Break

5 Best Places to Spend your Holy Week Break

Yes! Gone are the days of dizziness and exhaustion from school and office works,

‘Coz next week is going to be a real deal!

Photo from www.ffemagazine.com

For Christians, Holy Week is a season of meditation, repentance, and reflection. But apart from its essence, families have various ways and styles to commemorate it. As entertainment cities and malls shut down their operations, radio and television stations go off-air, and city works starts to rest, families can use this time to discover far far-away natural hotspots and heritages in the provinces or even just still here in the city, an apt opportunity to discover something new, hang-out with your relatives and find for nice instagrammable shots under the sun.

We lined up five hotspots and quick getaways for which your family can venture to visit, a mixture of fun and excitement yet an opportunity to reflect and to meditate.

1. Anawangin Cove, Zambales

Photo from: http://www.traveltothephilippines.info

Looking for a perfect picturesque of a breath-taking destination? Zambales has it all.

129 km. from Manila, Anawangin Cove in San Antonio, Zambales can provide you a best sanctuary for soul-searching and family retreat near the city. Three and a half hour ride via North Luzon Expressway, this crescent-shaped cove outlined with pine trees on its shore will leave you fascinated in exploring the entire island. The soil that can be found in the island are a mixture of white sand and soft volcanic ashes, giving you a feel-good ambiance of a total paradise.

As per WindowSeat.ph, families can dine near the shoreline using banana leaves and bare hands as utensils. You can even serve delicious native foods to complement the scenery. Being a popular destination for campings, retreats, and beach outings, MetroDeal.ph even offers an extensive accommodation for 2 days and 1 camp night with full meals and sidetrips for P 888.00  with inclusion of island hopping at the Camara Island.


2. Inflatable Island, Subic, Zambales

Photo from www.inflatabeisland.com

From San Antonio to Olongapo, Zambales really got it all!

If you’re family is longing for a time of thrill, fun, and excitement, this is something you should watch out! Because Asia’s biggest floating water park is now open in the Philippines!

In a feature article published by WhenInManila, this 3,420 sqm floating playground is equivalent to 8 whopping basketball courts! With height limit of 3.5 feet, this new water park adventure can give you a loaded ultimate beach experience! From watery twists, such as swings, trampolines, monkey bars, slides, and wiggle bridges, fun walkway ladders, crazy ramps, ice-berg, to a Bali-inspired accommodation through exclusive Inflatable Island lounge, no doubt that even kids at heart would surely enjoy this new entertainment paradise. Aside from the aforementioned, signature features of the park is a 10 meter High Tarzan swing and a 9 meter Human Launcher.

The park is accessible from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Half day pass is from 8:00 am – 11:00 am for the morning and 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm in the afternoon. Interested comers must arrive 3 minutes before their scheduled time for some safety reminders, sign in instructions, and life vest fitting.

Prize ranges from P 699 to P 1399 depending on how long you’ll be staying. Inflatable Island is also open for events, parties, school tours/team building and other events. Prior reservations can be done online.


3. Cloud 9, Antipolo, Rizal

Photo from http://www.cloud9hotelresort.yolasite.com/

From north, let’s go south!

Being the pilgrimage capital of the Philippines, Antipolo became a prominent cradle of religious and spiritual worship centers and churches. But aside from religious undertakings, Antipolo has so much to offer in terms of heights! Yes heights!

Towering the Metro Manila skyscraper, Cloud 9 Sports and Leisure Club at the Barangay Sta. Cruz, Sumulong Highway is a suitable place for adventure seekers. A two-kilometer ride from Manila, it offers a panoramic view of the entire Metropolitan Manila and a part of the Province of Rizal. But before that, you need to defy your fear of heights by climbing a sprawling, steep, and moving hanging bridge all the way to the top.

Cloud 9 is also an events place for weddings and team building activities. And if you’re craving for oriental and truly Filipino food, your family can try its famous restaurant owned by a homegrown chef who usually serves a perfected art of native Filipino foods such as pinakbet, kare-kare, and crispy pata.

Aside from foods, Cloud 9 also offers a hotel accommodation, a score of amentities such as art galleries, billiards and darts, mini exercise area, pools and a mini-museum, showcasing the rich history of Antipolo City and the Province of Rizal.

With a price ranging from P 1,800 to P 4,000, Cloud 9 can provide your entire family a mixture of thrill, savory, and of course, learning!


4. Pampanga

Photo from www.mithunonthe.net

Holy Week destinations won’t be complete without Pampanga!

A religious mecca as considered by most Christians and Catholics, San Fernando City in Pampanga is a perfect hideaway if you really want to feel and imbibe the deep sense of spiritual meditation this season. It actually presents a real-life demonstration of the sufferings and passion of Jesus Christ. Done annually, devotees flock at Barangay San Pedro Cutud to witness this reenactment as a form of penitence. Though the Catholic Church consider it as “barbaric and pagan”, it has been a continuing tradition even up to this time.

Apart from the actual demonstration, you can also have some sort of a group or family trekking in the nearby Mount Pinatubo or Mount Arayat if most of your family are up to hiking and strenous activities.


5. Intramuros

Photo from www.jigstenorio.com

If you’re in low-budget and has decided to stay in the metropolitan over the week, there’s still a best place to visit!

Yes! Welcome to the walled city of Intramuros!

This century-old district has been the Philippines’ pioneer city of Christianity. Every corners of the street, your eyes will surely be amazed with the  architectural magnificence and precious history of the biggest churches scattered in every corners of the street.

Being the bastion of Catholic faith, Intramuros is a perfect and best place for your “Visita Iglesia” in the city. You can visit the famous Manila Cathedral, and the adjacent San Agustin Church. Former churches in the area include San Ignacio Church, Lourdes Church, Recoletos Church, San Francisco Church and Santo Domingo Church. Aside from churches, hispanic houses and streets can also be seen around the corner, adding color to the rich history of the Spanish influence in the Philippine culture and tradition.

Together with your kids and loved ones, you can roam the entire district by walk or by the famous “kalesa” ride.

These are just among the places your family can consider in commemorating a peaceful and reflective Holy Week.

If until now, your itinerary is still your problem. It’s not yet too late, you still have a week ahead to plan!