Category Archives: Teaching

Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project

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Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project

A Happiness Project taught in a classroom in France brings happiness to a classroom in Spain and to me! Two students taking “The Science of Happiness” course given by the University of California Berkeley were unaware that their paths would happily cross and be mutually beneficial.

My new friend, Madame Corinne, a caring teacher in France to six and seven year old creative students and I connected when Madame Corinne did a Google search and found “My Happy”.  Madame Corinne was kind enough to leave a comment sharing that she was a teacher in France. After reading her comment I was eager to ask Madame Corinne if she would like a copy of That Makes Me Happy! I noticed that her e-mail address came up with her comment on the “My Happy” comment page. I thought about sending her an e-mail, then decided not to. Yes, self-doubt held me back. In the past I would have simply given in to my self-doubt. Instead, I reminded myself how far I had come since my first blog post. I felt good about the writing, the volunteering,  and the learning. One question I now ask myself when I am presented with an opportunity is: “Why not?” I again found myself looking at Madame Corinne’s e-mail address. This time I e-mailed her. I asked if she would like a copy of my story to read to her class. Madame Corinne was so kind to say yes! She was already planning a wonderful Happiness Project for her new class and the story fit right in.

Madame Corinne began her new school year by focusing her students on happiness. I was very honored that she read “That Makes Me Happy” and had her students make Happy Rings as part of her project. Madame Corinne asked her students to think of “3 small happinesses” each morning. Students created pictures and  posted their drawings to a bulletin board.  Below are the pictures Madame Corinne shared with me. Her students were very creative with the Happy Rings. I especially liked how they personalized them, even the smiley faces! Happy Ring total has now reached 127! I also enjoyed looking at all the pictures on the bulletin board.

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Madame Corinne shared her project with a teacher in Spain. Senorita Berta will be teaching her students this happiness project and all the students from each classroom will share their ideas this year! How wonderful!

I was excited I had written that e-mail and in a small way I was apart of these terrific projects. I am still amazed at how simply reaching out has connected me to fellow happiness creators so far from my home. Creating happiness is making a difference to Madame Corinne, Senorita Berta, and their students this year. Madame Corinne’s Happiness Project not only teaches students they can create their happiness, it also teaches students even though we may be living in different countries, we CAN connect, and we CAN make a  POSITIVE difference. Everyone’s ideas are important and we can be happier by sharing them!

Thank you Madame Corinne and Senorita Berta for teaching your students about creating happiness! Thank you for sharing my story. Please thank your students for making Happy Rings!

That Makes Me Happy!

More Pictures 12/5/16

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Summer Reading

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Summer Reading

Happy News

This summer dive into these good reads! While reading a Happy blog (ha ha… yes, many others are sharing their happy stories), I learned about this great newspaper:  “The Happy News”.   A newspaper to celebrate all that’s good in the world…The Happy Newspaper is a platform to share positive news and wonderful people. The line up in this issue was: General News Stories, Everyday Heroes, Celebs/Showbiz, Poems, Lifestyle, Food, Travel, Your Year, New Year Tips, Meet the Writers, From me to You. All written from a positive perspective.

One of my favorite sections included positive news about celebrities. It was great hearing about good news like Pharrell Williams turns ‘Happy’ into a children’s book. Malala Yousafzai, youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize celebrates her 18th birthday by opening an all girls school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Prince Harry and Prince William join BBC home improvement program ‘DIY SOS’ in renovating an abandoned street in Manchester into 26 homes for homeless war veterans. Another section I enjoyed reading was Everyday Heroes. There you can find people and organizations trying to make the world a happier place.  One organization, Free Cakes for Kids UK network is a community organization of volunteer bakers who provide birthday cakes to families who are struggling and find it difficult to provide a cake to their child.   www.freecakesforkids.org/uk  The paper includes many websites and other resources to lift you up.

Emily Coxhead  had the idea to begin a newspaper that “added sunshine to a person’s day”. She and other volunteers collaborated on this fun and enlightening newspaper. To learn more about it or order the next issue go to:  http://www.thehappynewspaper.com

9781611800586_p0_v3_s192x300[1]Sitting Still Like a Frog” Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel is a fun way to encourage children (and their parents) to meditate. Eline Snel is a therapist who has been working with Mindfulness for 20 years, developing training programs. She is the founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands.

Bedtime “shenanigans” led me to try meditation with my children. Does anyone still use that word? I think it is a nice way to explain the silliness that occurs at my children’s bedtime. Sometimes..er..okay a lot lately my little ones have difficulty settling in. Even after their bath and stories, they are still playful. I find having them lay down in their beds and talking them through a relaxation meditation can be very helpful.  “Sitting Still Like a Frog” helps parents and teachers use meditation at various times during the day and it also includes a meditation for bedtime, “Sleep Tight”.

Eline Snel uses the description of a frog to develop an understanding of the importance of stillness.  My children found it interesting and fun.  There are positive reviews from teachers who have used it in their classrooms. You will find an Introduction to Mindfulness, Parenting with Mindfulness, Weathering the Storm Inside, Handling Difficult Feelings, It is Good to Be Kind, to name a few. The book includes a CD of 11 mindfulness practices you can do with your child. Our children LOVE to spend time with us. Sometimes simply role modeling  gets children interested enough to try a new thing. I realized, though my children preferred  my voice over listening to the CD at bedtime. My friend, Kathleen noticed that with her daughter. Familiar voices are the best, of course. Your children may prefer you to do the narrative for the bedtime meditation.

Let me know what YOU think! You can share what you like about the “The Happy Newspaper” or how your children respond to “Sitting Still Like a Frog” by commenting on this post. I would be very interested in your feedback!

Happy Reading!

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“That Makes Me Happy!” News

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“That Makes Me Happy!” has really done just that. It has made me happy.  Many of you have been asking how things are going with my children’s book. After the book launch, opportunities for volunteering to share my book and teach the lesson it holds fell into place. Volunteering and focusing on my family filled my time and this blog took a back seat.  Now it is time to catch up.

My enthusiasm for the science of happiness resulted in writing “That Makes Me Happy!” a story that teaches children they can cultivate their own happiness. At the end of the story children can make a “Happy Ring” to practice the strategies which are deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought.  By reading the story to children, adults can show children we value well-being as much as academics and achievements.

This past school year I volunteered to teach the lesson from my story at my oldest son’s school. As I had read the story in my youngest children’s class the previous school year.  His school had a set time every week to bring health and wellness education to their students. Awesome, right?  The science behind happiness lesson fit right in.  Not ever having taught more than a classroom size of 31 students it was a new experience for me. I was asked to teach the lesson to each grade. There were 100 students in each grade.  Keeping a group that size engaged and interested definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wished that I could simply read my story and make “Happy Rings” but that wouldn’t fly with these older students (4th, 5th, and 6th graders).  20160802_122551

 

While creating the lesson, I thought back to what really amazed me in the research.  Richard Davidson’s research with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was top on the list. thRichard Davidson’s research focuses on the brain-emotion connection. When the Dalai Lama heard of his research he urged Richard Davidson to study kindness and compassion. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear.  Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’  Data from brain scans of Tibetan monks were studied. The monks observed had a regime of meditating 8 hours a day, some had done so for 20 years.  The findings led to the understanding that meditative practices and practicing kindness and compassion result in a brain that is more capable of change, in theory becoming more resilient.

“Rather than think of the brain as a static organ, or one that just degenerates with age, it’s better understood as an organ that is constantly reshaping itself, is being continuously influenced, wittingly or not, by the forces around us.”  Richard Davidson 

Brain plasticity, mirror neurons, and calming jars…oh my!   I brought the lesson to life by using student volunteers.  Teaching a group of 100 students was a challenge for me. Did I already say that? Teaching your own class is much different from teaching a large group of students you do not know. Using strategies like positive self-talk, visualizing the lesson going well, deep breaths, and having a growth mindset kept me on track.  I also had support from a few teachers with each grade.  Once I had taught the first group of 100 students, I felt proud of myself and realized it helped me to grow. It felt like such an accomplishment to have taught this lesson to my son and his peers.  Thank you to the staff and students of Proctor Elementary School.

My cousin, Helen, a third-grade teacher was very excited about my story. I offered to read it to her class. In April Saint Joseph’s school welcomed me to share my story with 4 classes, kindergarten, first, second, and third grade! Reading my story, sharing author secrets, and creating “Happy Rings” together created my happy! Seeing the smiles, the interest, receiving inquisitive questions, the excitement about using “Happy Rings” is truly priceless! Thank you to Mrs. Fitzgerald, all the staff and children at Saint Joseph’s school.

My more recent news for “That Makes Me Happy!” is it has traveled overseas! “That Makes Me Happy!” will be read in classrooms in France, India, and possibly Germany!20160802_131341 (1)

 

 

 

“That Makes Me Happy!” is doing just that, making me happy. I hope it is making many people happy. In fact if you have read the story and made “Happy Rings” please e-mail me how many children made the “Happy Rings” at: thatmakesmehappy@yahoo.com.  I will be keeping track of how many are made. So far, there have been a little over 100 Happy Rings made. I look forward to seeing that number grow. I am also happy to have taught over 400 children that they can cultivate their own happiness and a few strategies to begin with: deep breaths, smiling often, and thinking happy thoughts.

Did I imagine all this when I took my first “baby step” which was starting this blog? No, I did not. I knew I wanted to share this wonderful information with friends, family, and especially children. I am glad I found a way using many of the strategies I have been writing about!

Thank you all for reading My Happy, you are a big part of this!

Happy Book Launch

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Ringing the singing bowl to focus our hearing

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my favorite part, reading the story and seeing smiles

my favorite part, reading the story and seeing smiles

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My friend, Margit has supported every step of my happiness journey and made these cookies for the book launch. She hand did each face!

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I think these cookies stole the show! 😉

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Happy drawings!!!

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Getting to write special messages was so fun!

 

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Margit’s cookies made everyone smile

untitledThis photo was taken at the next reading I did for story time at our library during vacation week. We used masks to act out the story. So cute!

 

 

We had a very happy book launch at my town’s library, thank you to all the librarians and a special thank you to Lindsey and Becky! Celebrating with my family and friends always makes me happy.  I always know I can depend on them to be as happy as I am to come together and celebrate, especially for something they know means so much to me.  A number one priority to creating your happiness is to strengthen your social connections. I hope they know how much I appreciate their support, especially at my happy book launch. Sharing “That Makes Me Happy!” and making Happy Rings with my family and friends was truly one of the happiest days I have ever had.

Twenty-five families attended and listened to the reading of “That Makes Me Happy!”.  All the children were terrific listeners and participants. The event was also attended by  Alison, a reporter from our local newspaper.  I look forward to reading the article and seeing the pictures. There was so much going on and I wished I could have chatted more and been able to talk to each child about their drawings. During the book launch children made their happy thought circles and then added it to a Happy Ring to take home. My friend Kim shared with me that her son’s happy thought was me! I was very surprised and almost cried! How sweet was that!James and Tiffany

It was also very heartwarming when one friend shared her enthusiasm for the “Happy Rings” and how her sons have been able to have fun using them for calming strategies. She was very kind to post this comment on “My Happy”:

“That Makes Me Happy! was read in my son’s preschool class and he loved it! He was excited to share with the family the Happy Ring he had created. To this day, I use the techniques described in the book and the Happy Ring as calming strategies for both of my boys. They always end up smiling and laughing with each other. Tiffany, I am so happy to share in your special day tomorrow as you launch the book. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment!” Amy

It was also important to me to explain some of the great research that led to my motivation to write “That Makes Me Happy!”. First, I explained the work of Richard Davidson. Richard Davidson is a neuroscientist and emotional specialist. At a recent conference hosted by The Mind and Life Institute, Davidson talked about his center’s work in the field of contemplative neuroscience.  He says one of the most important insights this work is leading us to is: we can train for well-being. “It is the neuroscientific evidence particularly which shows us that the circuits in the brain that are important to underlying well-being exhibit plasticity–it changes as a consequence of experience and as a consequence of training.  We know that the brain is constantly being changed, wittingly or unwittingly.”  “We can all take responsibility for our own brains and we can shape our own brains in ways that are more positive and can lead to the cultivation of well-being.”

Read more about Richard Davidson’s work at: http://www.centerhealthyminds.org

Next, I shared the information about the course given by UC Berkeley, “The Science of Happiness”. Not only does this course cover all the latest research in positive psychology, it also teaches students happiness practices to cultivate well-being.  Although it is a 10 week course, if you are not taking it to earn credit, you have the materials for six months and may take it at your own pace.  Between the discussion groups and Facebook page there is opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. Simply hearing the stories of others looking to learn more about positive well-being is very uplifting.

Read more at http://www.greatergoodsciencecenter.org

Local organizations that support SEL in other ways are

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http://www.friendshipconnectiononline.com/

http://www.artfullifecenter.org/

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http://www.mindfulschools.org

 

Lastly, I organized a “Happiness Bundle” for my town library. I have pictured the books I included below. I tried to think of everyone, whether you are an avid reader, a magazine flipper, a movie watcher or a parent looking for children’s books about happiness. I feel like this is the best grouping of books that I have read in the sea of new happiness books. If you live in my area, I hope you get  chance to borrow some of these finds. 🙂 If you are not, your own library may have some of these titles. If not, you can ask them if they could get them in.

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As you can see I have a lot to share! The title “That Makes Me Happy!” truly describes what all this is about, Creating My Happy! I hope that it also Creates YOUR Happy!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this day so HAPPY! 🙂 A special thank you to Olivia for taking pictures at the book launch and Lois for taking pictures at the story time. Thank you to Margit for the delicious custom cookies and to Alex, my excellent assistant at the launch.

 

I Did It!

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Happy Rings

“Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama 

I did it, with help, support, and encouragement but I did it! I had an idea for a story to teach children (preschool through 2nd grade) how to help themselves to be happy. The story also concludes with making a personal ring of pictures. Using the ring will help children practice 3 happy habits deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought.

Each small step I took towards a happier me made a difference. No matter how big or small the differences were, it is still a positive difference. I want to be a person who creates change for the better. If you want greater good, you have to be the good. The following paragraph includes the strategies I have been writing about that helped me this past year, and more specifically with writing the children’s story.

Not letting excuses get in my way, leaning on friends and family, listening (with my ears and heart), using a Growth Mindset for myself and others, taking risks, not allowing negativity in other areas of my life get me down, keeping my working materials ready and available, visualizing, deep breaths, meditating, using everyday bravery, focusing on the positives, taking time to be creative, being mindful, being thankful, not giving up, and of course, blogging.

I am grateful that I had this opportunity to focus on this project. I am thankful to the teachers and children who welcomed me into their classroom, listened to my story and created their “Happy Rings”. The pure joy I feel teaching in itself is rewarding. Seeing those sweet faces and bright smiles! Admiring the teachers who work diligently to create a loving, supportive, and comfortable environment for each of their amazing students to then be open to new learning.  Wow! The only thing that made this experience truly amazing for me was sharing my ideas and teaching about my FAVORITE subject, HAPPINESS! Wow! Wow!

These have been some of my actions. I would LOVE to hear about yours, big or small! You can comment below or e-mail me to share your information privately.

This has been the perfect way to conclude my first year of blogging.  Today is the one year date of my very first post “Lead By Example”. Thank all of you for reading “My Happy,  Creating Your Happy” and giving me positive feedback. Thank you to WordPress for designing a user-friendly site and for sending me this congratulations for “My Happy’s” 1st anniversary! I look forward to expanding my blog with a page for kids!

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1 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com one year ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful

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Kindergarteners Talk About Mindfulness in ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film | Mindful.

Please take a moment to be inspired! Click on the above link to watch a video at http://www.mindful.org

Have Fun, Learn, and Grow

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I recently watched a speaker explain that sometimes we don’t follow through with ideas because they seem too “easy”.  That is how I feel about my blog. I am simply a messenger posting what is all around us.  It is my way of doing the work for my readers by organizing important information which can improve lives. This is my fun, learning and growth. I have been posting about ways to feel happier (according to the latest research) and retweeting real life examples of the information I share. I would like my readers to find the information easy to understand and use in their lives, because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

The following video explains the difference between having a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.  Carol Dweck (Stanford University psychologist), Christine Carter (sociologist, happiness expert, author) and Kelly Corrigan (author, speaker) discuss mindset and motivation.

To learn more please visit their websites at:

http://www.mindsetonline.com

http://www.christinecarter.com

http://www.kellycorrigan.com

 

 

 

 

 

Social and Emotional Learning

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This video, 5 Keys to Social-Emotional Learning Success, was shared from Edutopia’s YouTube channel. I thought this video would be helpful in understanding SEL.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is happening in the U.S.,  China, the UK, and Singapore! Some of my friends get excited about new technology, some get excited about new fashion trends, others get excited about the latest music…I get excited about social-emotional learning!!!

Validated by research, social-emotional learning is shown to enhance academic success as it actually reduces stress levels in that pursuit. It prevents negative behaviors and gives students the “soft skills” they will need to flourish in today’s work environments.  It also promotes positive relationships and attitudes about school, and in general.

Studies with toddlers show that we really are “born to be good”.  In his book Born to Be Good, UC Berkeley professor (and Greater Good Science Center Director) Dacher Keltner discusses our natural tendency to be good.  Keltner makes the case based on research in psychology, sociology, and neuroscience that we are also wired for good. More specifically, he looks at the science of emotions and how positive emotions such as compassion and awe are contagious—and help to bring out the good not only in ourselves, but in others as well. (Taken from:  Social-Emotional Learning: Why Now?  by: Vicki Zakrzewski Ph.D.)

SEL cultivates our self-awareness.  Focusing on understanding our emotions, positive and negative, to help us navigate the classroom, workplace, our relationships and the decisions we make in life.

Again (if you are a regular here at “My Happy”), positive emotions such as gratitude, tranquility, love and joy expand our hearts and minds which helps us to share and connect with the people in our lives and increase our learning potential. Also, as I have previously mentioned, there are times everyone experiences negative emotions and difficult experiences, however, our children will be better equipped to handle those times with this kind of learning.

I have created an SEL page where I have taken information from various sources to explain what SEL is and why it should be a priority in our homes, schools and communities. I also included websites where you can find more information. Take a look at the Social and Emotional Learning Page to learn more about it. 

 

I would love to hear about what you think! You can write a comment or e-mail me at tiffanylynne_14@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

“Cloud of Love” Gift of Love

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Are you looking for a special gift for someone you love? “Cloud of Love” is something I did with my kids for birthday gifts in our family. I thought you might like the idea for the holidays. For those of you who might not know, Clouds are groups of words showing categories viewed on blogs, websites, and other social media. This “Cloud” though, is created of reasons why you love your special someone.

The title of the “Cloud” can include the person’s age. For example, 60 Reasons We Love Mimi.  I chose to use the person’s age to determine how many reasons are used. You can choose to do the same or another number that is meaningful to you.  List reasons using different sizes, colors, even fonts, if you are computer savvy or simply use paper with crayons, markers, or pens.

Once you have created your cloud, it could be framed or placed in the front of a photo album (They still make these, right?). You could also include pictures of the person with you or your children. I have given a partial example below. (There are not 60 reasons in the example. It gives you the idea, though.)  I also included it as a document link. I think you could use it as a template, please let me know if you try it. 🙂

https://myhappydotme.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/60-reasons-we-love-mimi2.docx

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Happiness for the Holidays

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happy holidaysJust like adults, children sometimes have stress, anxieties, or get overly excited during the holiday season.  Here are a few strategies to help yourself and your child enjoy the holidays and each other:

Be sure to do a self-check. If you are getting nervous, stressed or frustrated trying to “do it all”. It will surely trickle down to your children. Don’t be shy to ask for help! It’s okay to ask for help because it will strengthen your relationships.

Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by keeping what is truly important in mind, your beliefs in the holiday your family celebrates, your family, and helping or appreciating others as well. It’s a great time of year to show appreciation to others who help your family in some way. Also, it is a time to help other families who may need it during the holidays.

Make lists and keep a journal. Making lists of items you need to buy or things you need to get accomplished. Be sure to write down a day you would like these tasks to be done. I also started to keep a journal of holiday giving to help me remember from year to year what we have given.

It’s also a good time of year to give to charities, food pantries, and shelters. Schools and stores usually have toy or gift drives. Wal-Mart, for example, has a giving tree with gift requests on it. You can select a tag off the tree, buy the request, and then give it to the customer service staff member. This is a good thing to do with your children so that they understand the importance of giving, even to other families they may not know.

A side note regarding donations. There are organizations in your area that need families to make donations which help your own community.  One way to make donating easier is by making a payment monthly for one year. Small monthly donations can be given automatically through your bank to the recipient.   This commitment is actually better for the recipient.

Strategies For Kids:

Give kids age appropriate “jobs” to help with holiday preparations. One idea is wrapping gifts. Cut paper to size of gift. Give your child sized paper, pieces of tape (or if old enough, the tape dispenser), bows, and a bag to place when finished. Here is the big tip for you: Love however they wrap the gift! Sometimes we have to “let go” of how we might do something because it’s all good. 🙂 The recipient will enjoy your child’s wrapping abilities no matter what. Other jobs may include: help with cleaning (socks on hands to dust is always fun), decorating, cooking, and making gifts.

Deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth) and exercise daily.  Kids need to be taught how to take a deep breath. Elementary teachers sometimes  explain to their students, it is like smelling flowers and blowing out  birthday candles. Be sure to tell them to only do one deep breath, but remind them a few times during the day. If you practice this daily, your children will be able to use it more effectively when they really need it to calm themselves. Exercise is very important for your children to keep calm as well. An easy indoor activity is Freeze Dancing. Turn on your favorite tunes, but when the music goes off, you freeze! The kids really like this and they get some exercise.

Read and discuss holiday traditions along with their usual favorite books. (Bedtime is a great time for this. Kids are very open to conversations at this time. Especially if they get to stay up a little late. 😉 )

Emphasize Giving Make or buy gifts together for others. Include them in buying for the toy or gift drive you donate to. It will get your child thinking about how others need our support.

Teach expected behaviors for giving and receiving. For example, when receiving a gift always say “thank you” and something kind about the gift. When giving a gift watch the person open it and respond to a thank you with “you’re welcome”. This not only gives them the words to use, it provides the opportunity to learn about gratitude.

If you are visiting another home for a holiday party be sure to tell your kids beforehand the usual sequence of events and what is expected of them during the party. Remind them that expected behavior is important for everyone to have fun and stay safe. If you have a child who has difficulty in these less structured events, be certain to respect any concerns they have and help them to feel comfortable. It’s okay to request information from the host or bring something with you to help your child feel more comfortable. Don’t put your feelings or anxieties on them, however. Don’t ask or suggest anything negative, simply listen if they bring up a concern and reassure them that you will help them if needed.

Older kids need support, too. They would benefit by your sharing the above strategies with them (in your own words) and ask them what they might like to try this year. It may just be the conversation starter you are looking for. (Don’t forget…bedtime is a great time to ask and listen.)

Hopefully, you are also working on your happiness with visualizing, family cheers, exercise, getting rest, being thankful, being mindful, meditating, self-compassion, and thinking positive thoughts. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to create amazing memories for your family and others. I hope this helps you and your children enjoy this special time of year. Please share some of your own strategies that have helped your holidays be happy in the comment section. I look forward to learning from you!

More to come……