Thursday, 26 September 2013

Giving the 'Happiness Advantage'

This weekend I read an interesting article in the Times about 'Dolphin Parenting' Which was Shawn Achor's reply to 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom'.

If you haven't heard of Shawn Achor I highly recommend listening to his TEDtalk on 'The Happiness Advantage' in the video below.

I've never been comfortable with the Tiger mom style principles, and although it's a little corny, I do love the 'dolphin parenting' idea. We have been able to implement a few of his ideas into our daily  homeschool routine and I'm already seeing positive outcomes.

So, if you want to join me in 'Dolphin Homeschooling' here are the ideas we are using so far:

1) watch a funny video on youtube and laugh about it together. 
Yes, daily. Laughing together is not only fun, but it releases endorphines which help you learn faster and retain information for significantly longer. Plus it's bonding.  

2) write down three things that you are grateful for. 
Teaching your child to scan the day for positive outcomes, within 21 days this becomes a habit, so make a month (or longer) of daily gratitude journalling.

3) One happy memory.
Also in our journal we write out one happy memory/favourite thing that happened today. I write this for Cosmo, as I don't want his emotional experience to be limited by frustration of spelling etc... I let him tell me his happy memory and then I ask leading questions like 'what happened next?' and 'how did you feel about that?'

4) An encouraging/positive note.
My children have facebook accounts. Don't worry, they don't know their own password and they are only friends with family members. It is useful for this exercise though, where I ask him to send one encouragement or note of praise to somebody.

Shawn Achor points out that IQ isn't really a great predictor of success or happiness. How positive you are and how well connected you are with your support network are much more important predictors of both. These exercises done daily will build habits, and habits become character and destiny, according to someone much smarter than me.

'Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny'

                                                      -Samuel Smiles
 In just three days my son is already way more positive. He is finding all kinds of things to be grateful for, he's stopping during the day to point out that 'this is going to be my happy memory when we journal!' and he's saying encouraging things to me and his sister.

This stuff works, so let's give our kids the Happiness advantage :0)

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