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Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

If You Want Happy Kids, Do This

  • Jim Daly
    Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Dec 17
  • Comments

Forget the luxury vacation or the latest electronic gadget.

If you want your child to be happy, simply spend time with them. So confirms the Global Kids Happiness Index.

Over 4,000 children between the ages of 6-12 years old in 12 countries were surveyed. Here is what they revealed:

According to TMSW’s research, the most important sources of kids’ happiness, across almost all countries, are family and friends. “Play” consistently ranked third among sources of happiness. Interestingly, the one exception was Japan where kids say that playing and video games outrank family and friends as influencing their happiness.

Beyond the top 3, happiness drivers varied greatly by country. For instance, competition and accomplishments were rarely mentioned by U.S. kids, but were frequently mentioned by Chinese kids. Japanese kids often reported “the arts” (drawing, music, crafts) as making them happy. U.S. kids frequently mentioned “animals” (dogs, cats, pets, birds) as an important source of their happiness.

The study also revealed that when it comes to children, happiness and money don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Mexico is reported to have the happiest children of the dozen countries in the survey, followed by Spain, Brazil and Germany.  The United States came in fifth place.

The survey didn’t address matters of faith, but other studies have consistently confirmed a correlation between belief and happiness. Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute and a man with whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with recently, has analyzed data and written on the subject extensively. He reports that people of faith are more generous with their money and their time than their secular counterparts. They’re also more optimistic and fare better in numerous categories regarding quality of life.

That “money can’t buy happiness” is certainly not a new cliché, but with Christmas coming and parents everywhere scrambling to land the perfect gift for their children, there’s a good word here for all of us:

Our kids want our love, of course, but they also want our company. In fact, for many, those two gifts go hand in hand.

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