Happy Kids?

I always twitch a little when I hear a parent say, “All I want for my child is for him to be happy.” I think I react because I’m not sure if ‘happy’ is coming from a place of positivity and health, or from a darker place of fear and a frantic lifestyle.


“I have two children, and all I want for them is for them to be happy,” said a mom to me in my coaching office. “Eli is fifteen and Kate is ten; and I make it my priority to see that they are comfortable and happy.”

“How are they responding to that?” I asked.

“Seems like the more I do, the more demanding and less appreciative they get. After meeting all their needs and running them all over the place; they fight, are whiny and inpatient. I’d think they would be more grateful and cooperative.”

“I know what you mean. As parents, we think that the more we do relates with the more they will appreciate, but it’s almost the opposite.”

“She furrowed her forehead, “Why’s that?”

“Because we are actually training them to take us for granted. Doing too much for your child is actually doing too little. In a way, it’s robbing them of what they need and giving into what they want. Just because we can afford to do something for our kids, or buy something for our kids, doesn’t mean that we should. Just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should.”

 She shifted in her chair, “Are you saying my kids are spoiled?”

“They might be. Do you find yourself giving into them?”

“Yes, but I can say ‘no’.”

“When was the last time you said ‘no’?” I asked.

“It’s been awhile.”

Always delivering what our kids want robs them of learning patience, self-control, restraint and the joy of anticipation of waiting. These factors produce entitled kids – kids who think they deserve concierge service and five-star provision from their parent.”

“So real happiness doesn’t come from parents simply giving in and giving them what they want in that moment?”

“Exactly. We want our kids to be happy and to like us, but even with our parental obsession with our kids’ happiness and feeling good, we are not producing children and teens who feel good.”

 “So how can I help my kids be happy without giving in and spoiling them?”

“Our kids will experience genuine happiness from the inside-out vs. outside-in. Lasting, genuine happiness is forged with gratitude, contribution, and kindness. It’s fueled by a clear sense of values and seeing yourself as a capable member of a community.”



Are your kids spoiled?  Watch my short video on Spoiled Rotten Kids

Genuine happiness produces terrific results. In a recent meta-study,* the benefits of being positive led to increased happiness and higher levels of success. Including:

  • Better health and less stress
  • More fulfilling relationships
  • Better academic and work performance leading to professional success
  • More altruism and social and community involvement
  • Higher incomes and more financial success

*(Dr. Ed Diener, Senior Scientist –The Gallup Organization, & Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, UC Riverside).

 Do your children and teens reflect this kind of healthy happiness? Or do you find yourself giving in when you should draw the line? Have they become more demanding and less grateful?

I have a five-point, evidenced-based program to help your family discover how to be healthier and happier. Contact me tim@parentscoach.org to schedule a coaching session in person, by phone, FaceTime or Skype.

For healthy families,

Tim Smith