happy familyI recently came across an article by Bruce Feiler entitled 5 Secrets to a Happy Family. Although he claims to not make lists, and that his ‘secrets’ aren’t really secrets, I found the article to hold quite a bit of truth, and a very comprehensive list…for older children. And that got me thinking. His list is good, but what about all of the parents with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers?
So, I thought I would make my own list. This of it as the Sleep Lady’s foundation for a happy and gentle family. These principles are simple, but if you build upon them as a foundation, you’ll be amazed at how happy your family can be.

Get quality sleep

Surprised? Of course I’m going to mention sleep. I’m the Sleep Lady! Joking aside, being well rested is key to being happy. When you sleep soundly, your mood is lifted, your body is rested, and you have more energy, no caffeine required. And this applies to everyone, not just parents. Make sure that your children can effectively put themselves to sleep, and know how to put themselves back to sleep.
For more about how to help your children sleep, take a look at this article about gentle sleep training.

Give praise

And do it often. Positive reinforcement works wonders. Praise the things you want to see repeated, If you praise the good, you’ll build your baby’s self esteem, and encourage them in their good behavior.

Hug often

Positive contact is so nurturing, and hugs are a simple way to show your family that you care. They take just a few seconds, and often they’re a good quick way to remind someone else that you love them.
It doesn’t even have to be a hug. It could be a quick pat on the back, or a genuine smile, or taking two seconds to make eye contact. These actions are so important, especially for small children; babies and toddlers model our actions, so show them how to be a caring person.

Stoop to their level

When your children are small, you seem so huge to them. Not surprising, right? When adults get down on their knees, onto the floor, or look a toddler in the eye, it make such an amazing impression. Be sure to really interact with your children while they’re small. It helps to build their sense of value.

Encourage choices

Babies and toddlers are constantly pushing limits and testing boundaries, all in an effort to figure out where they fit in the world. Choices will give them a sense of control, and encourage independence.
The catch? Give them choices that make everyone happy. The blue socks or the orange socks? Apple juice or milk? Pancakes or eggs? Finger paint or crayons? Remember that they’re always testing boundaries, so give them something to focus on. Just two choices is enough to help them gain confidence and feel more in control of their world.

Did I leave anything out? What activities does your family do that helps ensure your familial happiness?

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photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc