If Children Have Happy Childhoods, There Is a Good Chance They Will Stay Happy for Life

Sir Anthony Seldon, a thought leader in education and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, is known for introducing the first wellbeing curriculum at the Wellington College about a decade ago. He was ruthlessly criticized for “messing” with academic achievement. But then an interesting thing happened. Over the next nine years, the Wellington College rose in the league tables quicker than any school in history.

Seldon’s advice to parents is simple: first and foremost, focus on happiness.

"If children have happy childhoods, and happy experiences of school, there is a good chance they will stay happy for life", Seldon says.

One of my most favorite researchers in the psychology of happiness space is Barbara Fredrickson. When you have a free minute, google her article Happiness Unpacked: Positive Emotions Increase Life Satisfaction by Building Resilience. You can easily find it for free. Here's what Fredrickson finds: 

1. Happy people develop resources for living well.

2. Happiness gives them the lasting resources that makes it easier to be resilient when life gets tough

3. Happiness, which Fredrickson defines as a composite of life satisfaction, coping resources and positive emotions - predicts desirable life outcomes in many domains. 

So, let's review: we do want our children to be smart, do well at school, have high standards, get along with everyone, and have good character. But something needs to fuel that. Both our homes and our schools need to be kind, warm, loving and generous places. 

We need to focus on happiness.