Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

Want your child to have positive memories of childhood?

January 9, 2011 Leave a comment
Do you find my brain? - Auf der Suche nach mei...

Image by alles-schlumpf via Flickr

Apparently the human brain is naturally hard-wired to remember negative experiences. Even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the implicit negative memory bank grows faster. We retain negative memories and tend to forget the good ones.

So given that we know that, how can we use that to the benefit of parenting? You can rig your child’s brain for happy memories! Sounds a little creepy, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences. Instead, the key is to fostering as many positive experiences as possible and then really let them soak in.  Christine Carter, a psychologist who writes a blog on at the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley, suggests the following:

1. Teach kids to see all the good around them. Share with them an appreciation for a beautiful day, time spent together, good food, the kindness of others. The idea is turn positive facts that are present all around us into an experience for the child.

2. Draw out and really savor the experience. The idea here is to not only encourage your child to hold the positive idea in mind, but also to remember the emotions. That practice will strengthen the positive associations made with the memory.

3. Let it all sink in. Let your child imagine this feeling sinking into their mind, using methaphors such as the way water sinks into a sponge.

Focusing on good memories in this way can actually overwrite negative ones. Dr. Carter’s uses her personal example of not remembering the pain of being bullied because all the positive attention she received from friends and family created so many positive memories for her that they outweighed the negative.

Do you have an example to support this theory from your childhood?


An anti-depressant for children?

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Image: Felixco, Inc. /

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to say thanks. Today my daughter came home with a paper listing three things that she is thankful for. But maybe we should have our kids practice the art of gratitude a lot more often than just once a year. Christine Carter, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, has noted that recent research is indicating that practicing gratitude is deeply connected with happiness and that this also applies to children. One study found that gratitude in high school students is linked with higher grade point average, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption, as well as lower envy and depression. Try adding some of the following practices to help your children develop more gratitude:

  • Have your child keep a gratitude journal.
  • Have each family member discuss something that they are grateful for from the day at dinnertime.
  • Have a child tell you what they were grateful for at bedtime.
  • Suggest to your child that they write a letter to someone who has helped them in the past to let them know that they are thankful to have the person in their lives.
  • Document happy memories with photos and journals.

Any other ideas? I am definitely grateful that I can go to bed now 🙂