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Happy Families – Happy Holidays

Here’s a post written by my colleague and friend, Lisa Acker.  A great reminder of how to strengthen the bonds of family.  Could there be more perfect a time than during the holidays to simply enjoy each other’s presence?   (As opposed to presents – pardon the pun!)  

Thanks for sharing Lisa!  And happy holidays to all families everywhere!

I recently read a book by Bruce Feiler, The Secrets of Happy Families, as well as an article titled 7 Scientific Tips for Having a Happier Family by Eric Barker. Just in time for the holidays, I’d like to summarize a few of the relevant highlights for you:

1. Eating Together Matters – But It Doesn’t Have To Be Dinner!
Kids who have dinner with their families perform better academically and behaviorally. The book highlights research that shows children are less likely to engage in risky behavior (including drinking and smoking) as well as have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem.

A comprehensive study discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. The GOOD NEWS for busy Hong Kong families (like ours): It doesn’t have to be dinner, and it doesn’t have to be every night! If you can commit to a couple times of week, including breakfast or desert together, many benefits can be enjoyed even if your family is not complete at dinner time.

2. Share Your Family History
Children who know the stories of those who came before them have higher self-esteem and a greater sense of control over their lives. Children who know their families history have a strong “inter-generational self”; They know they belong to something bigger than themselves. Winter break begins next week, and will hopefully give you ample opportunities to share some family history.

3.Empowering Your Children
Kids in general, but especially pre-teens and teens, do better when they are included in making plans and family decisions. Kids who plan their own time, set weekly goals, and assess their own performance strengthen their prefrontal cortex, which contributes to them exerting greater cognitive control over their lives.These executive skills aid children with self-discipline, avoiding distractions, and generally increase their locus of control.

Wishing all your families a wonderful break together, and to those of you who celebrate Christmas, a very merry Christmas to you!

Lisa Acker