For happier kids, dine together and hang out, new research claims

Dine together, spend time together, and have a happy marriage - those are a few key ingredients to ensuring your child's happiness, a new wide-scale UK survey, announced April 2, suggests.

Researchers stated that children in the survey reported higher levels of happiness when they dined together with their families at least three times a week. Also, moms, pay attention to your love life, the research suggests. A happy childhood strongly related to how satisfied mothers were with their relationships with their domestic partners. The father's satisfaction with his romantic relationship, however, had less of an impact on the child's well-being.

Other factors in increasing childhood happiness? Spending time together. "Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing videogames or watching TV," said researcher Dr. Maris Iacovou of the University of Essex, "we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings." 

In the survey, the happiest kids also more often lived with two parents (either biological or stepparents), had no younger siblings, and didn’t argue with their parents often. Previous family studies have also pointed to similar factors such as communication and time spent together as contributing to a happy family life.

The survey, part of a large-scale UK household longitudinal study involving 40,000 British families, is based on a sample of 6,441 women, 5,384 men, and 1,268 children ages 10 to 15.

Other secrets to a happy family? WebMD advises doing things together as a family, putting family before friends, and limiting your child's after-school activities to opt for more time together at home. Also, create a calm environment at home by never arguing in front of the kids, experts say.

To access the survey (click on "Chapter 2: Family Relationships"):
http://research.understandingsociety.org.uk/findings/early-findings

Read more tips from WebMD.

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