Fish Food – tips & insights

Dedicated to sharing short, sharp (almost) daily tips and insights to evoke thoughts and ideas for parents – food for thought

Happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things


What are the things we can do to increase our happiness and well-being and of course our children’s?  According to Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert:

“We imagine that one or two things will have profound effect on our happiness. But it looks like happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things….The small stuff matters.”

What has been found is that how good your experiences are doesn’t matter nearly as much as how many good experiences you have.  It is the dozen of mildly nice things that happen to you each day that is likely to make you happier than the single truly amazing thing.  Over time these small things help build up your happiness.

What are some of the little things we can do to increase our happiness?

According to Dan Gilbert:

“The main things are to commit to some simple behaviours – meditating, exercise, getting enough sleep, to practice altruism…and nurturing your social connections”

If Dan Gilbert wanted to predict your happiness and could know only one thing about you, he wouldn’t want to know your gender, religion, health, or income. He’d want to know about your social network—about your friends and family and the strength of your bonds with them.

That’s great news – we all want our children to be happy and it’s every day things that can make a difference. So what can we do, or more importantly what can we encourage our children to do to make themselves happier? Maybe encouraging compassion and helping them understand the value of being a good friend, helping them relax and get the sleep they need and having positive family relationships.

“The things you can do to increase your happiness are obvious and small and take just a little time. But you have to do them every day and wait for the results.”

This may be the challenge – many of us are not good at routine and often expect things to happen instantly.



Navigating stormy weather conditions


Children today are faced with all sorts of worries and stress in their lives – it’s just a natural part of living.  Children need to learn how to handle themselves under all kinds of stressful conditions, just as a sailor needs to learn to sail in stormy weather conditions, not just when the weather is sunny and the wind is blowing exactly the way they want it.

Of course, we want to shield our children from unnecessary problems and hardships. However, we need to teach our kids that if we run away from our problems, the problems just multiply.  They don’t magically go away.  When it comes right down to it, facing our fears and problems is usually the only way to get past them.


Celebrating milestones


It’s important as a family to celebrate milestones. Memories fade quickly if not marked by honouring special moments in time. Remember to celebrate the big and small moments.

In a few weeks time we will be celebrating our eldest daughter finishing primary school and the excitement of starting high school.  To mark the occasion we have bought her a nice little present; a couple of old poetry books from a beautiful second hand book store. Her school is also doing a fantastic job at marking this right of passage by organising a ‘reflection day‘ for the students.

What milestones have you celebrated recently with your family?




Fish Food 55 – Thoughts are important


Our feelings and emotions are the direct result of the way we think about, or interpret events and situations.

“Most people who worry a lot or feel stressed tend to make two errors in their thinking. First, they commonly overestimate how likely it is that bad events will occur.  Secondly, they usually assume that outcomes or consequences of those events will be catastrophic and unbearable.” from the book Helping your Anxious Child

Worried thoughts can often be changed to calm thoughts by being a good detective and looking for realistic evidence to challenge your worried thoughts.

In future articles we will look at how we can teach children to identify their thoughts and challenge their worried thoughts by using questions to help find evidence that suggests the worried thought is not true.


Fish Food 54 – Good Posture


Good posture is important to physical and mental wellbeing – for us and our kids.


Fish Food 53 – Awesomeness of chums


The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”

Friendships are important and vital for wellbeing, but some kids are not as competent at making friends, interacting with other kids and being accepted into their peer groups.

There are significant benefits in teaching these children social skills and friendship skills in order to improve their relationships with others.

Below is a list of such skills:

  • Body language skills  (eye contact, posture….)
  • Voice Quality  (tone, clalrity…..)
  • Conversation skills  (greetings and introductions, starting conversations….)
  • Friendship skills  (offering help, asking to join in, giving compliments……)
  • Assertiveness skills   (sticking up for one’s rights, asking for help, dealing with bullying…..)

Which social skills did you identify as needing work for your child?



How to teach your child the important social skill of eye contact