A Family Connection Activity to Help You Raise Happy Kids

(Inside: We all want happy kids, but are you happy as well? Download this family activity and discussion on happy kids and happy families.)

“Mom, I hid in the bathroom because I was scared my teacher would make me read my paragraph in front of the whole class,” my son whispered in the safety of the dimly lit room as I tucked him into bed.

He’s confident – where’s this terror-so-I-must-hide coming from?

{Deep breath.}

There are so many issues “out there” that seem to find us and stick, no matter who we are. For example, your daughter is consistently anxious, paralyzed by the thought of making a wrong move that will cause unhappiness – you’re not putting this pressure on her, what’s going on? Or your son brushes off his girlfriend’s birthday – way to make your best girl feel important, son. Ugh, you’ve raised him better.

Between the issues and/or poor choices I see made by my students at the high school where I teach and my own elementary/middle-school-age kids, I wonder – If our kids could better understand what’s really makes them happy kids, would that eliminate some of their challenges? (Or at least take the edge off.)

If my son realized failure to speak eloquently in front of his peers is not the end of the world, would he have shown up to class? If the daughter rocked by decision-paralysis realized perfect choices don’t guarantee happiness, could she more confidently move forward? If the boyfriend understood the importance of encouragement in building a relationship, would he have chosen a more thoughtful path?


I know struggle is normal. And God can shape us in beautiful ways through pain.  (A fact I love…and hate.) I also know perfectionism is a cruel illusion that always disappoints. So, I’m not trying to skirt around the realities of life.

Instead, I’m simply wondering how often kids make decisions based on a limited understanding of what makes them happy. And are adults deliberate enough in talking about real happiness with the next generation?

My heart nudged me to put on my Mom Psychologist Hat and research what makes people happy. (I had some time between Taxi-Driver Hat and Dinner Cook Hat.)

I kept coming back to a TED Talk I’d seen. Listening to all the good insight Emily Esfahani Smith shares, my brain started stirring. I decided, my kids need to see this Ted Talk too. And because I’m a teacher by profession and this type of think lights my heart on fire, I created a lesson out around this Ted Talk for family time.

Side note: We try and come together as a family once a day for a quick check-in to how everyone is. (Dinner, before bed – the time varies.) But, maybe once a week, we try to be deliberate with our connection time by reading a Psalm together or working on a lesson like this…etc. Then there are months that we do nothing but survive because parenting can be a roller coaster like that. 

The best part of teaching our kids this kind of life lessons (especially when we throw in research) is…

The best part of teaching our kids this kind of life lessons (especially when we throw in research) is…

…beware, selfish thought coming…

As we teach our kids these concepts – we’re strengthened in empowering ways we don’t expect. “It’s cold,” as my high school students say. (Which means, that’s great/awesome/amazing for those like me who grew up wearing tube socks, home perms, and bangs shaped like a tidal wave.)

Here’s also what’s enlightening about studying the words of psychologists, researchers and other experts – their findings most often support what God already told us in scripture.

Here’s also what’s enlightening about studying what psychologists, researchers, and other experts say about how to be happy – their findings most often support what God already told us in scripture.

Based on this idea, I came up with a lesson for my family to help us better understand ourselves, figure out this world, and grow in faith.

The quick outline of the lesson looks like this:

  • Introduction
  • Watch the video
  • More thoughts to read as a family
  • Discussion questions

Through these discussions, families get to know each other better and build connections.  Because we all want to be happy. Let’s chase after it. Together.

I started the family activity together below. Or you can be done reading this post and skip to downloading the complete lesson in pdf format by getting instant access to the freebie library here. You’ll get an email in your inbox with the link and password once you sign up. 

happy kids
Continue the discussion on how to raise happy kids and more – join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.

There is More to Life than Being Happy
(A Secret to Happiness Family Lesson & Discussion )

Lesson Introduction: 

Parent reads to their family: Favorite people, I’ve got a lesson for you. Before we start, let’s talk about things you think make you happy. Tell me what pops into your head.

{Allow some conversation around this.}

Continue reading: We’re going to learn about one expert’s findings on what makes people happy. (Let’s see how high video games and new toys are on that list. I mean seriously, it could be number one and two…you never know.) Let’s watch Emily Esfahani Smith’s insightful TED Talk. Emily studied in grad school positive psychology to learn what truly makes people happy. She spent five years researching and interviewing hundreds of people to come to the conclusion she shares. She knows her stuff.

(Note to parents: Before you watch the clip as a family, know that in the intro she talks about suicide. Not a topic I am discussing with my 7-year-old. For us, we skipped the intro that talked about this hard topic and started at 2:16 seconds. I always recommend parents watch any videos before they show them to their children. However, this blog is for tweens and teens, so in your family, it might be appropriate to watch the entire video. Parents know best.)

As a family, watch the video:

To keep the lesson concise watch seconds 2:16 to 9:02 of the video There’s More to Life Than Being Happy | Emily Esfahani Smith.

Download the rest of the family lesson on happiness that will help you raise happy kids.

If you think the science behind happiness is a topic your family would like to learn more about and connect over as you discuss these ideas, then sign up to get access to the freebie library, so you can instantly download the rest of this lesson.

An email will arrive in your inbox with a link and password to this freebie and more!

We don’t only want to raise happy kids, we want to build character in our kids.

More than my kids being super successful or achieving accolades, I want my kids to be people of character – kind, loving, loyal, compassionate, empathetic, faith-filled, and integrity-driven.  I’m not trying to raise perfect kids (not possible!), but I do hope my kids have an internal compass that steers them to lead a life of integrity. And while they are still in my home, I’m going to try to lead them there.

I hope you both enjoy the full “raise kids of character” series and find it helpful.

Raise Kids of Character Series

A Family Connection Activity to Help You Raise Happy Kids
Raising a Leader: An Effective Tool to Help Moms Raise Leaders

Why Your Kids Weaknesses are Also Strengths 

happy kids
Continue the discussion on how to raise happy kids and more – join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

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