The 3 Things Your Kids Need to Be Happy

If only we were given a manual for this parenting gig—a universal tome that tells us exactly what we need to do to raise our children to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted humans. Turns out there might just be such a thing; sort of.

mother and baby son reading a book in bed before going to sleep

According to an extensive 70-year study of over 70,000 children, there are just three things parents should be focusing on when it comes to raising happy kids.

The longest research project in history on child development, which was commenced in 1946, breaks down parenting Occam’s Razor style, into three simple tenets for success:

Be warm and engaging

The study revealed that content—and successful—children were those whose parents were actively engaged in their lives. In other words, their mums and dads prioritised listening to them, talking with them, and dedicating a good chunk of regular quality time with them.

Read to them

Story time in particular was one sure way to ‘engage’ meaningfully with kids; what’s more, the study’s findings also showed that reading together with your child primed them to perform better academically.

Put them to bed

Finally, the key to happiness lies with a good night’s sleep. Getting enough rest is imperative for proper physical and mental development, and the best way to ensure this is by keeping to a bedtime routine.

There are general guidelines for how many hours of shuteye each age range requires, but don’t worry if your child seems to be an outlier; Helen Pearson, who presented a TED talk, emphasised that what’s most important is to read our own children’s needs—and respond to the cues on time (whether it’s for sleep, or anything else).