Stephen Covey's popular "7 Habits" series includes "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids," a book for children 4 to 8. When reviewing the principles outlined in the book, a variety of activities can be incorporated with the material to reinforce the concepts. A parent's guide and other supplemental content is available from the publisher, but parents and teachers can easily create their own activities. Each of the seven habits encourages children to lead happier, more fulfilling lives by following a few straightforward principles. Encourage discussion by engaging children with activities related to the book.
The first habit encourages children to be proactive, taking the lead and making the best of any situation. Ask children to think of think of a specific frustration they have with a friend or family member. Create a worksheet for the child to write down all the emotions over which he or she has control when frustrated. Younger children can draw faces to illustrate choices they can make regarding their feelings. For example, they can draw happy, sad, brave, scared, excited or bored faces.
Begin with the End in Mind
Teach your child or student that goal-setting is important. You can use a variety of activities to reinforce this lesson. Build a birdhouse or design a space rocket, outlining the specific steps to successfully reach a clear objective. Give your child a deeper perspective by discussing a larger family goal and exploring how this project fits into his or her plan. Designing a birdhouse can be a great step in becoming more eco-friendly or gaining a deeper appreciation of nature. If your child is interested in space exploration or other career paths, discuss the goals they have for the future and the impact they can have others.
Put First Things First
Ask children to create a list of priorities. For younger children, suggestions might include simple objects like a favorite toy or more abstract concepts such as joy and love. Print pictures and put the items in order from most to least important. Allow older children to classify basic objects as a "need" or a "want." Explain the difference between food and water (needs) or treats and toys (wants). Older children can focus on subject areas, narrowing their list to more specific topics like important foods.
To illustrate win-win thinking, give your kids a choice of foods and ask them to help you prepare the family meal on which they decide. If they participate in the process, they can choose the foods they want to eat and how they'd like to cook them. At the same time, mom or dad stay involved in the decision -- a win-win for everyone. Other activities that illustrate this concept could include gathering up toys a child may no longer want and donating them to charity. Explain how donating items frees up space for new things, while also benefiting others. Children can create crafts from recycled materials, pick up trash at a neighborhood park or participate in other projects that improve the world we live in by reducing waste. This is a win-win for the community, companies and our whole country.
Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Empathy is best learned when practiced with friends and family members. For an activity reinforcing this principle, have a group of young friends or classmates each gather a favorite item. After each child has an opportunity to describe his favorite game or toy, ask older children to repeat what they learned about each object and why it is special. Allow the children to take turns sharing the items with others and then see if anyone can remember the rightful owner of each object.
Two people can have a greater impact than one person working alone. Numerous activities can be utilized to demonstrate this concept. Encourage children to work together to achieve a common goal. After a game of tag or a team-oriented outdoor activity, ask children to describe how they all worked together as a group. Team-building activities can include simple tasks like raking a pile of leaves or building a snow fort.
Sharpen the Saw
The "sharpen the saw" habit encourages children to build their mind, soul and body so that they can give life their all. For this habit, kids can use a journal to document personal progress and achievements. There are all kinds of self-improvement goals toward which students can strive. A health journal can include goals to exercise several times a week or a eat foods from each of the different food groups. Students can also participate in a summer or weekly reading program and set a goal to read a minimum number of minutes each day.
- reading with mum image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com