As parents, we often want many things for our kids, including happiness, success, and health. But one of the most important wishes we can have for our kids is for them to be well-adjusted and prepared for the world.

Parenting is no easy task, with an entire life (or multiple) in our hands, we are given the task of preparing them for the rest of their life and making the most of the time we have. Part of that journey includes keeping them well-rounded and making sure they have the tools necessary to not only survive the world, but also to thrive in it.

If you are like me, and wondering how to make the most of this endeavor, then this is the article for you. Here are 12 important habits for raising well-adjusted kids.

1. Make yourself happy.

For your kids to thrive, they need to see you doing just that. And thriving doesn’t mean you are always happy or content, but it does mean that you take care of yourself first and foremost. Research has shown huge links between the happiness of the mother and the happiness and success of her children.

2. Be a gardener, not a carpenter.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D., and neuroscientist, makes a very interesting but useful analogy for us. Carpenters sculpt and carve and shape wood into what they want it to be. Gardeners help things grow by providing the right environment necessary. Know the difference.

3. Explain things.

As frustrating as it may be to explain everything to someone, it’s necessary to help your child understand new things, which is what they crave. Rather than saying “I told you so,” Barrett encourages us to explain why they shouldn’t do something or why they should. Otherwise, the only understanding they will have will be based on authority and fear.

4. Teach them how to build relationships.

Relationships are important, yet so many parents drop the ball on teaching their kids how to form them and build them. And not only is building relationships essential in life for basic reasons, having and sustaining long-term friendships and other relationships makes us happier in the long run.

5. Show your kids how to copy you.

Kids naturally learn by watching us. So, if you are doing a task and notice them watching you, hand them something and show them how.

6. Teach optimism.

According to author Christine Carter, “Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.” Additionally, optimists live longer and healthier lives, are more satisfied in their marriages and are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety.

7. Integrate them into society and socialize them.

Barrett explains that research has found that when babies interact with various people from different cultures, it helps them to learn new languages and opens them up to new ideas. Additionally, it makes them more cultured.

8. Describe activities not people.

Rather than saying, “You are such a good girl,” to your child, say “I’m so proud of you for doing X, Y, Z, you put forth a lot of effort and you did a great job.” Why? Barrett explains that by doing this, you are encouraging action, and effort, rather than showering her with praise just for existing.

9. Talk to them and read to them frequently.

Even when your child doesn’t understand what a word means, they can store the word away in their mind to use later. And hearing new words and learning new phrases helps them to build a strong foundation in their mind for learning more.

10. Give them chores.

According to research, children who have chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are more resilient and disciplined. Additionally, they achieve greater success in life and school.

11. Limit screen time.

As tempting as it may be to some of you, and as many mothers want to claim that it’s impossible to enjoy their lives without pawning their little ones off to their tablet, it’s best not to. I don’t mean to offend here, but tablets, computers, and television mess with your child’s reward system, which sets them up with an addictive brain. In turn, they are going to suffer in the long run. So, if you must have them in front of a screen, limit the amount of time you allow them to 30 minutes a day or so.

12. Consistency.

For a child, who is still in their developmental years, life can be extremely overwhelming. Limit their overwhelm and provide them with stability at home, by providing a consistent routine they can depend on. That way, no matter what is going on in their lives, they will always have a secure and consistent life at home. Even if that just means consistent bedtimes and waking times, consistency with meals, and consistent quality time, that’s a great start to making them happier and helping them to thrive.

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