How to Raise Happy Children

All parents want to have happy children.

Some parents miss the mark on raising happy children, but there is good news.

Raising happy children is not as hard as what you might think and with the following suggestions you can turn your family around today.

Get to Know Your Children
To have happy children it essential that you get to know them. Know who they are, what they want and what they like.

This is going to give you a great chance to have the family that you have always dreamed of.

Have a Positive Attitude
The more positive that you are with your children, the happier that they will be. Focusing on the negative is only going to cause them more stress and will not leave them feeling happy.

Did you realize that parents who are negative around their children are more likely to have aggressive children and that aggression in childhood is linked to assault as an adult?

Know When to Accept a Little Sass
There are many things that you should realize about children if you want them to be happy. Children need to show respect still, but they should be taught how to organize their thoughts in an argument.

Having this skill is critical to avoiding peer pressure and being happier in Jr high and high school.

Learn to Joke A Lot
The more you joke and play around with your kids, the happier that they are going to be.

Research shows that parents who are always joking with their children have much more content children.

Walk Away From Perfection
One of the things that you have to do is learn that no one is perfect. Perfection is just not possible and the sooner that you learn this, the sooner that you can move on to raising happy children. Learn that your child is going to make mistakes and that there is no way for them to be perfect. If you expect perfection, you will only wind up disappointed and have children who are not happy.

Work to Have a Healthy Marriage
Statistics prove that parents who have a healthy marriage have happier children. If you are divorced and want happy children, then it is essential that you get along and that neither one of you are talking bad about the other parent in front of your child.

Teach Your Child to Love Himself/Herself
It is so important that you teach your child about the importance of loving themselves. This is so that they can have a high level of self-esteem which matters if you want to have a happy child.

Let Go of Things
Although it can be tough to let go of things when your children are misbehaving, it is your best chance for having a happy child. Learning to let can take some time and requires you to put forth some effort, but it is something that you can do if you try.

Make Sure that You Take Care of Yourself
To have the happiest children, you need to make sure that you are happy as well. Taking care of your mental health and making sure that you get treatment as soon as symptoms start for things like depression are going to help you to raise happier children.

If You Are Mom to a Son
There is a lot of research that shows that sons who are close to their mothers are less likely to act out.

This information was published in the Journal of Child Development in 2010.
There is also information to show that how a child can treat their mother is going to reflect how they behave in their future relationships.

Thank you all for coming here today and for taking an hour of your busy schedules. Reality is five years ago, I would have never wasted an hour of my time attending a parenting presentation because I parented the way my parents did, quite strict.

But I thought I turned out OK, so why would I do things differently.

Until one day an event at home actually made me really wonder if I was doing things right.

So it was a Saturday. My four and a half year old daughter, Noor, was serving herself some salad.

She dropped a salad leaf on the table. I just asked nicely, oh, Noor, could you please pick this up. She ignored me. I said Noor, you dropped a salad leaf, please pick it up. She ignored me. Then I used my default method at the time, my technique to get my children to do things which was counting to three.

Anyone else count to three?

Show of hands?

Usually about 90% so the rest are probably– And I went OK, Noor, I’m counting to three.

I said one. Ignored me.

I said two. Ignored me again.

I went, Noor, you don’t want me to get to three, do you?

Two and a half.

Two and three-quarters.

And then I got to three.

And the reality is I had no idea what I was going to do. The only thing I knew was my authority was based on that and the fear of getting to three.

And it used to work so well and suddenly it didn’t. Unfortunately I did not react the best way possible. I actually started screaming and shouting. And I pulled her up, put her in her room. Lecturing her, how dare you let me get to three. Do you realize what that means? But I realized that day that actually my whole authority was based out of the fear that my children had. And they were doing this out of fear so I was really managing my fear.

And that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today and how much parallels there are between leadership skills and parenting skills. So the outline for today is actually explain to you how I learned that parenting skills can be improved. Then I’m going to talk to you about what parenting and leadership have in common. Then we’re going to actually work together on defining what the key leadership skills are. And finally, I’ll show you how to apply some of these workplace skills at home. So I’ll share with you five very effective tools to replace the typical basically, well, the one, two, three, the parenting by fear or parenting by rewards actually, because it’s the carrot and stick approach. My objective here today is really to give you alternatives to the carrot and stick approach that are so ingrained in our culture. Because it’s all about usually rewards, punishment, threats, and management basically by fear or rewards. So hopefully you’ll leave here with an alternative to that. So how did it all start? Well, I already explained, I was a stricter parent.

And my wife was actually a lot more, let’s say, lenient. I sometimes say permissive although she doesn’t like it. And so that’s how our daily interactions look like. And the problem is actually the more, the harsher I was and the kinder she was. So I had, I had clearly had the bad cop role, she had the good cop role. Anyone else experience this at home?

Yeah, about 60%. Well, actually it’s– the research shows that it’s 75% of parents argue about how to parent.

And more than 50% of these arguments are about how to discipline children.

So that’s what we experience on a daily basis. And it was, I mean it almost got to break point, particularly after the incident, the salad leaf incident that I mentioned.

And thankfully, my wife reacted very well to that. And she actually started looking for things she could do better. So she stopped blaming me for being the strict parent and the harsher parent. And she started looking at ways she could improve. And she actually started proving to me that she could get obedience and respect without having to shout and punish.

And that’s finally, she had– I was listening. So instead of just telling me oh, here’s this parenting book you should read. And I’d tell her oh, please give me an exact summary and show me how it works. I don’t have time for this. Well, finally she actually did it. And she showed me that– so she became, she actually set better limits. She became more consistent.

And it really changed the whole family dynamic. And so I became interested in and I became softer. And so I started looking at the research, becoming interested in the subject. And I realized how much parallels there were between leadership and parenting.

And actually that parenting skills, like leadership skills can be learned and can be honed. And that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today. So first, let’s start with leadership.

Obviously there are so many definitions, so I picked one that’s actually quite broad, but I think really shows what we want to do with our children. It’s from Dwight Eisenhower and it says, leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something we want done because they want to do it. Isn’t that what we are trying to achieve on a daily basis with our children? Wouldn’t it be great if we had tools to actually get them to do things because they want to do it, not because we’re telling them over and over again, you’ve got to do this.

Please do this, do that, et cetera, giving them orders all day long. Well, so that’s very much, actually leadership and parenting have a lot of parallels. And what they have in common, I really like this quote from Simon Sinek, who you probably know, author of “Start With Why”, it’s “Great leaders are able to inspire people to act.

Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained.” If you replace the word leaders with parents, here. So great parents are able to inspire the children to act. Those who are able to inspire give children a sense of purpose of belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. And this is really very much, that’s exactly what we were saying about moving from the carrot and stick approach to the inspiring and leading by example.

Another great quote from Jack Welch, former CEO of GE is “before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.

When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Again, if you replace the word leaders with parents here, is before you are a parent, success is all about growing yourself. But when you become a parent, success is really about growing your children.

So the last quotes I’m going to show you are about why leadership is actually here, in this sense, is different from management. So because I spoke about management by fear and that’s exactly, we want to replace it with leadership. And so management is about arranging and telling, while leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. And as Klaus Balkenhol, Olympic champion said, “there is a difference between being a leader and being a boss.

Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience, while a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” So why don’t we give a go at actually defining what the key leadership skills. What have you experienced, either as a manager– and actually something that’s worked really well for you in inspiring your teams. Or if you’ve been basically, you’ve had managers and leaders who have really inspired you, what are the key things that they’ve done well that you remember? AUDIENCE: Great communication.

Great communication.

You can shoot, I can do several things at the same time.

Being emphatic.

NADIM SAAD: Empathetic.

AUDIENCE: Having a plan.


AUDIENCE: Having a plan.

NADIM SAAD: Having a plan. Right.

AUDIENCE: They show you. So they’re an example of what they’re asking.

NADIM SAAD: Can I call this leading by example?

Yeah. AUDIENCE: They listen.

NADIM SAAD: Listening, empathy, empathetic listening.

Yeah, it’s a different– actually if you don’t mind, I’ll later put this into emotional intelligence.

Empathetic listening are very much about being– yes?

AUDIENCE: Stay calm during crisis.

NADIM SAAD: Stay calm during crisis. Anything else that comes to mind?

AUDIENCE: They know when to delegate.

NADIM SAAD: Delegation. So–

AUDIENCE: They’re inspirational.

NADIM SAAD: Inspirational.

AUDIENCE: Having a purpose or vision.

NADIM SAAD: Vision and purpose.

AUDIENCE: Have fun.

NADIM SAAD: Sorry, I didn’t hear that.

AUDIENCE: Have fun.

NADIM SAAD: Have, fun, OK.

OK, fun, can I also say positive attitude in there?

AUDIENCE: They serve as your advocate.

NADIM SAAD: Sorry, I have space for two more.

AUDIENCE: They serve as your advocate.

NADIM SAAD: They’re–

AUDIENCE: Serves as an advocate.


AUDIENCE: As an advocate.

NADIM SAAD: Advocate, they– sorry.

AUDIENCE: They advocate for their team.

NADIM SAAD: They advocate for their team, yeah.

AUDIENCE: A safe place to fail.

NADIM SAAD: And I heard safe place to fail. Yes, very good.

AUDIENCE: And also that [INAUDIBLE].

NADIM SAAD: Well, I absolutely love doing this exercise every time. This is a great list. And you’ll see, no surprise, I’ll have my list at the end.

It’s the same. So thank you very much. And actually I’m going to hopefully show you five tools, well, not hopefully. I’m going to show you five tools that use all of these skills and how to find them at home.

So the first one is about strategy and anticipating issues.

I’d like to share with you a story of, so we had just moved home. I had a six-year-old and a four-year-old at that time. And they were arriving half an hour late for breakfast, which meant no breakfast. We didn’t have time so we had to just rush to school.

So I sat them with, sat down with them on Sunday. And I asked my six-year-old, Noor, how long do you need to get dressed in the morning? She answered, two minutes. I said, OK, so you’re actually currently taking half an hour for something you could do in two minutes.

OK, so what can you do differently? And she actually came up with the idea that why don’t we write down timings so that we actually know what time we should be going down. I said that’s a great idea. Let’s do it. It was actually a two hour, in the end, a two hour activity where the kids, I took photos of the kids as they were doing the different activities. So making their bed, brushing their teeth, their hair, getting dressed. And then we put it in order.

They actually ordered the way they wanted. And we put timings, they didn’t really have a sense of time, particularly four-year-old at the time.

But I helped them with that. Turned out actually to be one of the best things we’ve ever done. Because the next day, they arrived half an hour earlier than usual.

We had lots of time to have breakfast and have lots of fun. Anyone actually already uses routines? Creates a routine? Yeah. Yeah, kind of. About 20% to 25%.

Do you involve your children in doing in creating this routine?

Yeah. Quite, some yes, some no. Well, it’s very much, it is very much valuable. And so the idea of creating routines is really steps and schedule to make them the boss. So with younger children as I just used, you can have photos of these different steps and I’ll ask them to reorder them as they want. With older children, agree on a schedule with them.

What’s important about this is really about using this as– so the routine becomes the boss as in, what are you supposed to do now, instead of oh, you still didn’t brush your teeth. What have you put in your schedule? What have you put in your routine? And automatically it gives an ownership and empowerment to the children to want to do things.

And so it removes a lot of the resistance that we experience in the morning. The other one about being strategic is redesign agreement’s is realizing where are our key issues. And often, it’s going to be a supermarket or when we go to a friend’s house, you know.

And it’s all about agreeing with your children what’s OK with you, so clarifying expectations at any age.

So for younger children, for example, you can use what we call an “I” message. I take children to the supermarket who will listen to me, who will not be trying to buy everything on the shelf or take it or touching everything on the shelves and et cetera, what works for you. And ideally you involve them. So you say for example, you will help me put things that are on your list, list of your things.

So there are usually actually very good supermarkets in doing this and putting them at the right height. And also for example, I’m willing to buy you one thing under two, three pounds, whatever works for you. Just having this expectation, having clarified this, and if you want role play. Role play is great for example for when you go to your friend’s house.

And you instead of going oh, say hello, say goodbye, say thank you. I mean how often do we repeat these things to our children? Well, the reality is instead if we role play and ask them so granny is going to say hello, what are you going to say? Oh, hello. OK, she’s going to give you a piece of cake. What do you need to do? Oh, I’ll say thank you. Just going through that with them, when I’m talking here about younger children, will enable them to get it in their long term memory. And you’ll be a lot surer that they actually do this regularly rather than you having to repeat it to them all the time. So that’s about being more strategic. Effective communication, obviously great communication is so important. And reality is often it’s not all about what we say but how we say it.

So can you try and guess how many orders and commands a child gets every hour on average? Is it 5 to 10, 10 to 20, 20 to 30, 30 to 40? Any guesses? AUIDENCE: I would say 20. AUDIENCE: 30 to 40. NADIM SAAD: 30 to 40. 40. Wow, first time I guessed the exact– it’s actually 34.

Very good.

So it’s 34 orders.

How would it go down with you if you’re actually, your boss gave you 34 orders every hour?

Yeah, you can imagine. So it actually explains very well the resistance they have from the age of two, three. I mean they’ve received so many orders through their childhood and so many no’s that is pretty normal for them to react like this.

So what are the alternatives? What is great communication with children? It is actually trying to replace at least 90% of these orders with first [INAUDIBLE] of all questions.

So think about actually is this new information. So every time you say something to your child, it’s like is this new information? Do you think that 90%, about 90% will probably be new, you know, old information?

And so instead of repeating yourself, ask them, what are you– so the same with creative [INAUDIBLE], you know, what are you supposed to do now?

What do we do when we come out, you know, when before we leave after we come back from whatever your rules are, they know them.

So put them in thinking mode a lot more and they’ll actually be a lot less resistant. Question works also very well when they make a mistake. What are you going to do now? Because usually we tell them or take them out.

For example, they spill something. Take them up, do this, do that, because we’re quite annoyed. Well actually, giving them the opportunity to correct their mistake and have a safe place to fail, you know, is essential.

And so that’s what is really replacing our orders with so asking questions. The other one, which is also questions is limited choices. Anyone uses limited choices? So it’s not like, oh, what do you want for breakfast this morning? And then you never get an answer. Or you reflect because it creates anxiety. It’s actually much better to say would you like porridge or cereals? Would you like juice or milk? So all limited choices actually keep our children in thinking mode and removes a lot of the resistance that we experience. And I’m talking at any age.

You know, we just think oh, they’re old enough. Come on why am I going to give them choices?

Well actually, 10-year-olds, 12-year-olds, they prefer choices to hey, you didn’t do that or you forgot to do this.

The other way about effective communication is actually reducing the use of no. No is actually one of the most dangerous words in the world.

Research shows that it reduces the motivation.

It affects us actually physically. And it’s a word that we repeat so often. Often actually we start our sentences with no when we want to say yes.

So I challenge you to try and start most of your sentences with yes, at home and at work by the way. And it’s yes, and if it doesn’t work for you, it’s yes and we can do this later.

For example, I want an ice cream. Yes, sure, you can have it at the weekend. That’s our rule at home. Yes, yes, yes, but redirect.

You’ll see the difference.

Instead of going OK, no, I want one. They’ll go, oh, OK.

Or ask a question. Is it time to have an ice cream?

So really it’s the same tools you use at work to motivate your teams or actually have a good relationship with your colleagues. I challenge you to do more of this at home.

Other big theme, leading by example. And instead of do as I say and not as I do, you know, do as I say and as I do. And as I was doing research, I realized the huge defining moments for me. I realized that I was making it harder for my children to do what I was asking from them. I would often say, stop crying. Calm down. Anyone else? Stop crying.

Calm down. Pretty common. Well actually what the research shows is that when we do this, they are probably already in what we call fight or flight mode.

They’re already in a state where they’re really finding it hard to get out of it. When we raise our voices and we say stop crying, calm down, actually it increases the level of cortisol in their body. Instead of coming back to their prefrontal cortex, this logical part of the brain where we want them to be.

They’re actually in their primitive brain, where we also called the chimp in some management books. And so if we actually– I realized that I was making it harder for them to do these things.

While what we should do is actually anticipate a lot of issues as we saw earlier and help them get out. You know, replace the cortisol with oxytocin, with dopamine. So the right hormones to actually be wanting to do things. And so I actually had a big experience when Noor was five and she spoke to me for the first time in an incredibly disrespectful voice. And I just was going to just fly off the wall, I mean I was so angry.

But I realize that we were both in our chimp, in our primitive brain. So I used what I call ABC.

So A for acknowledge my feelings, I’m very angry.

B for breathe.

And C for choice.

And actually I made the choice to remove myself from the situation rather than lecture her and scold her right there and then.

And as I gave myself some time I realized that she spoke in exactly the same way as I had been doing for the last few years. And the problem is actually they’ve got deferred memory.

So it only came out at five. So for the ones who have younger children, hopefully you can still correct things so that you don’t end up having children actually speak to you in exactly the same way you speak to them.

And obviously it’s not respectful, you can’t speak to another like this. But ideally we should be leading by example. And obviously that applies, it’s easy to apply this to stricter parents and parents who get angry. But I also want to share with you a story of a couple who seemed like the absolutely most amazing perfect parents.

And they had a daughter called Lisa.

And they simply adored her and they decided to give her unconditional love. So as she was brought up, they’d take her everywhere with them.

Until the age of two, they didn’t even take a night out together. And so when she turned two, they decided to book a babysitter. And they told Lisa, oh, we booked a babysitter.

We really wanted this night out.

She threw a tantrum.

They canceled the babysitter. Then Lisa turned out to be this lovely girl. She grew up to– always very generous like giving her lunch whenever someone else didn’t have lunch, always being responsible for brownies at parties. But unfortunately when she turned 14, she became angry, resentful and her parents could not understand. And so they kept telling her but we sacrificed everything for you, how can you treat us like this. So they went to see a psychiatrist, friend of theirs. They told the story. And he said, well unfortunately you trained her that way.

What do you mean?

We did everything, we’ve been so nice and– what do you mean we train her that way? He told them well, unfortunately actions speak louder than words.

And what you’ve modeled is actually that your needs were not so important. And her needs– you didn’t model how to say no. You didn’t actually develop her frustration and disappointment muscle. So what’s happening to her is simply that she cannot cope. She does not have the coping mechanism of emotions to manage her emotions.

And so that was a huge realization for my wife, who actually tended to be more like this.

And so you can see that from both sides of the spectrum. So leading by example is really about actions that speak louder than words.

So how could you implement this on a daily basis? For example, if you want your children to be grateful, you can actually show gratitude. If you want them to be– so for example, if you want them to know how to fail and how to accept mistakes, you can share your mistakes. We do that during our dinners when we manage to have dinner together. We share the mistakes we made and what we learned from them.

Because we realized that our children were starting to be perfectionists, which is actually very common nowadays.

So you can implement, you can really lead by example and bring these things into your daily lives. So hopefully you won’t have, you will have good followers. So I want to actually ask you, I’m sure that you have regular meetings, interim meetings at work.

Surely that’s quite regular and common. So what are actually the goals and objectives of these meetings?

Or why do you have internal meetings?

Can you give me ideas?

AUDIENCE: We talk through what’s happening.

NADIM SAAD: So talk through. So basically you’re discussing–

AUDIENCE: Like the agenda.

NADIM SAAD: Yeah, agenda. Sure. So we’re basically, we’re kind of planning, [INAUDIBLE] for a weekend planning.

Anything else?


NADIM SAAD: Assess performance.

Does that actually happen on a weekly basis?

Anything else?

AUDIENCE: To reach agreements.

NADIM SAAD: Reach agreements. So negotiate?

Yeah, so negotiate.

Would it be solve solutions and negotiate to agree on solutions to problems or just negotiate?


AUDIENCE: Highlight problems.

NADIM SAAD: Highlight problems.

AUDIENCE: Praise and recognition.

NADIM SAAD: Praise and recognition.

Yes, so can I add to this that it would be motivating maybe as well?

So you get the motivation to– get recognition to motivate.

AUDIENCE: Setting expectations.

NADIM SAAD: Set expectations. OK. I’ll– one last one.

AUDIENCE: Strengthen relationships.

NADIM SAAD: Strengthen relationship, yeah, bonding, strengthen relationships. Great, and I like that we finished on that.

Because when you see this list, can you see how it would be useful to have this at home as well. Bonding, set expectations, praise and recognition, highlight problems, and address them, obviously problem solving, reach agreements. So now I have a question for you is how many of you have regular family meetings on a weekly basis?

Great question.

Meals do not count.

It’s usually 5%.

Come on, tell me someone has a regular meeting.

Once a week?


OK, well this is really the most important tool in the book. So thanks for being honest. And family meetings are actually run very much like a business meeting. They’ve got– and for doing it once a week because what you don’t want is actually for children to think that you’re only doing them when there’s a big problem.

Because otherwise they become reluctant to do them while the idea is to have a real motivation to do them because it is a real bonding experience. So elect a chairperson and a secretary. The reason for this is because if you don’t, then they can go completely– you need someone to manage. But the secretary is really important, and actually children from the age of five, six, love to take the secretary and actually just write the minutes down.

And agenda, of course, we need agenda. And actually on the agenda, we start with compliments and gratitude.

So for example, our five-year-old daughters told our three-year-old daughter at some point, Yasmin, thank you for biting me less this week. And that actually came from a previous family meeting the week before where we gave Yasmin ideas on how she could bite less. So it had worked quite well.

What each family member is proud of, that’s actually something that at seven, our daughter said oh, can I talk to myself. I’m grateful for actually having finished “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and reading so much better. We said, oh, so you’re proud of this.

Yeah, sure, of course you can be proud of yourself.

And actually it’s a great moment to show what we’re proud of as adults and to lead by example.

And for our children to know how to focus on the positives and not just the negatives.


AUDIENCE: Personal related like as in only family related? Or would you talk about work [INAUDIBLE]?

NADIM SAAD: So it is only, so the question is about whether it’s work or family related.

It’s actually family related. There’s already so much to talk about on a weekly basis or even if you do it bi-weekly, it’s really, it’s really effective. It completely changes the family dynamic. So the next step, which is really the one that every parent wants to get to is the needs, problem solving.

Let’s actually address all the issues we have. So the way we did it, so it was– so the girls already had an idea of what a family meeting was. And that day we asked them what their needs were. So that’s what’s so important is actually for children to feel that they also have their needs met.

They’ll start probably with oh, I want to go to Disneyland Paris and they want to do this and that. We tell them oh, sure, we’ll put this on the agenda for the future.

But right now do you have any needs? So my four-year-old daughter said daddy, I’d like you to shout less. I was going to go, but I’m really shouting so much less. Don’t you see the efforts I’m making. I mean you should– come on. And then I was going to go, well you make me shout. I stopped myself in my tracks and I said, oh, you want me to shout less.

Well, I’d love to do that actually and I promise I’m going to make a conscious effort. But so why don’t we actually as a family think about what we could do to have less screaming or generally because there is quite a bit of shouting in the family. So we brainstorm and actually realize that a lot of shouting happened in the morning. Because, you know, this great routine that we created.

The problem is now they had half an hour to have all the time to– for breakfast and fun. Well, we still ended up being late for school because then by the time we told them OK, now it’s time to get ready, to get– finalize the dressing so we can get out the door.

It take 15 minutes instead of the 2 or 3 that it should take. So we brainstorm ideas. And actually I said you could actually wake up earlier so you’d have to go to sleep earlier. They said no, no that doesn’t work because we wouldn’t see then. You come back late from work. So no, no. Let’s try something else. So they actually came up with a simple idea, just remind us by singing. So unfortunately I had to sing, “Let us go. Let us go.” it was a big “Frozen” mania. And so I said, really you want me to do this, I hate singing.


OK, I’ll do that. Next morning, I went, “Let us go. Let us go.” They put their skates on, they were like two minutes.

They were ready at the door. I was like, wow, that looks like magic.

Well the reality is it’s because they found the solution, because they agreed on this.

Whether, I mean we also use now, thankfully they don’t ask me to sing too much.

But they asked me for example to use respect. So if– or rewind. So if they’ve done something that they’re not supposed to do, instead of immediately lecture them.

They have an opportunity by saying rewind. For example, they have an opportunity to do it better. And this is the amazing way for them to acknowledge their mistake and to actually practice doing things better. So and that all came out of our family meetings and our problem solving sessions.

So in summary, the way to do a problem solving session is you say, what can we do about it. Then you generate possible alternate solution together.

Ideally you find more than one solution so they can really, you can get buy in. You know how at work, if just someone comes up with a solution and you just get on, you just think I’m sure there was a better idea. And so ideally you find two or three solutions and all agree on what the best one is.

And after each option you should ask, how would that work for you to really empower your children to choose the best option. So you will decide together on the best acceptable solution.

And finally, we ask them how would you like to be reminded. So in they’re– in this case, they wanted to be reminded with the singing or with a word like respect or rewind.

And then finally, I would suggest particularly with older children to ask them what the consequence would be if they don’t end up complying. You know, you do tell them. Look, I totally trust that we’ve done this together and you’ve agreed so you’re going to do it. But sometimes, you know, we slip in life, it happens.

And so if you agree on a consequence, and in this case, actually the agreement was in the case of what I– the story I just told you, was that they would have to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. So it wasn’t, it’s not a punishment, it’s not a– it’s just a simple natural logical consequence of their actions.

And the more you do this, the more they actually start realizing that it’s not about punishment.

And it’s just that in life, you just have normal consequences to your actions.

And so that’s a great way to achieve this. So how do you create a shared purpose?

Actually is the final point is you also either do a problem solving session or you do what we call I mean you try and instill a family culture.

The reality is company culture happens whether we want it to or not.

And actually as you know we spend, I mean the company spends so much money on making sure that the culture is communicated, that we all are aware of it. Well, in our family lives, unfortunately often we don’t realize that we are creating a culture whether we want it or not.

So my intention here is just to make you realize that by becoming more intentional about it, it’s much better.

So how we define a family culture, it’s the unique way that a family forms itself in terms of rules, roles, habits, activities, beliefs, and other areas. And you can imagine that these things just happen naturally. So actually when we become more intentional about them, it enables us to decide what we want to be as a family.

Have more vision and strategy. So fun, sporty, kind, curious, what are the values we want to give to our children. You know, care of self, care for others. Effort is good. Whatever works for you, every family is different. But just becoming more conscious and strategic about this can make a huge difference to your children as they grow. And so ask yourself, what actions can lead to this? Agree during a family meeting that OK, let’s do more of this because we want to be like this as a family.

And try actually if you have all the children. Ask them, what do you think our values are?

Do kind of what we call a two minute quiz. So OK, tell us in three, four words what you feel that we are as a family.

And you’d be surprised sometimes at the answers they give, they can give you. And so ideally you actually, if you’re not happy with the answers then you get an opportunity to discuss these and make sure that you correct things before it’s too late. So overall, you want to finish on a positive note.

Because it’s like sandwich or like feedback, sorry, you want to do it as a sandwich. Positive, so compliments and gratitude. Then you put the problem solving, the part where you know, hey, we’ve got problems. Let’s solve them. But you want to finish on a positive note. So after problem solving and family culture, we plan activities and family fun.

You know, what we usually do in work meetings as well. Play a family game if you’ve got time. Because obviously these things, sometimes you skip the problem solving because we don’t have problems. We just use the family meeting as a bonding session. So we have time for a family game. And it’s a bit cheesy, but we always finish with a family hug and the children love it.

So overall, I wanted to check with you. What leadership skills do you feel that we’ve used actually coming back to everything you’ve defined?

Well, I mean, I promised I would show you my list. Well, here it is. Vision and strategy. So family culture, anticipating issues, it’s very much about vision and strategy. Leading by example, I think I went through that in detail. Effective communication, you know, the replacement of all the negative, the negatives, the orders with more motivating techniques.

Collaborative as well as directive. You know, it’s very important to actually when you do a family meeting, you’re asking them to also collaborate to find solutions to their problems, to empower them. Emotional intelligence, ability to listen, to be empathetic with our children. Motivating and inspiring. Valuing mistakes as opportunities for learning. As we said, you know, teaching them to fail and lead by example. Positive attitude and flexibility pragmatism. Trust and integrity. And finally, something we couldn’t be parents without is determination and commitment. And I want to acknowledge you all as parents because we have a tough job. And so hopefully the session has given you a bit more ideas on how to address these challenging times and really find solutions.

And realize that actually it is all about being a leader at home as we want to be leaders at work. And by applying these techniques, we can really make our family lives easier and more harmonious.

Thank you.


Right, thank you, Nadim. It’s quarter past 1:00, and so we have about 10 minutes for questions or so. And please use the mic to ask the question.

Any questions from the floor?

AUDIENCE: Yeah, I was just wondering about ages where you can start some of this. Because I’ve got young children so I totally see the benefit of what you’re talking about.

But I also think they are not going to get it yet.

So when–

NADIM SAAD: Can I ask how old your children are?

AUDIENCE: Two and zero.

NADIM SAAD: Well, congratulations on the– two actually is a great age to start, particularly limited choices, asking questions.

Making sure, basically you want to remove the resistance that comes with– I don’t know if you’re, I mean autonomy, there is this need for autonomy identity that comes in human beings. And it comes in peaks. It comes at two, that’s what explains the terrible twos.

It comes back at 12, which is adolescence and older people. It comes back at 40. It explains a lot of the midlife crisis.

And then again at 80. So two is really a great moment to start and apply a lot of basically remove the resistance.

Creating routines, you know, everything basically a lot of the– leading by example can start at any age. I hope you can use some, I mean we have talks that is more specific for younger children. But I hope that some of the ideas here, you can definitely commend.


AUDIENCE: Thank you.

The kind of frustration I guess that I have with my kids is that, and this could go on by the way.

The frustration, I think is that the ability for me to or the inability of me to articulate kind of do the boring stuff to get to the fun stuff. So that brushing teeth, and I get what you’re saying about routine, but I guess I have trouble articulating. Like it’ll take you two minutes to brush your teeth. And then you get 20 minutes to mess about. And the whole process to get them from start to finish will take 25 minutes. You know what I mean.

NADIM SAAD: I totally, totally–

AUDIENCE: I need help articulating that to them. Please, please help.

NADIM SAAD: Yes. And I agree. I still get frustrated at this. Because actually it’s understanding what is age appropriate is the hardest– was the hardest bit for me. Realizing that actually the prefrontal cortex, so this logical part of the brain, understanding what the consequences of our actions, that takes until the age of 25.

That’s actually when we become really adults, when our prefrontal cortex stops growing. Until then, unfortunately they don’t have hindsight.

They don’t realize that oh, of course, I mean unless we do it outside of the actions, which is why the whole idea of routines, of problem solving, is doing when they’re not already in this kind of resistance and outside of the prefrontal cortex.

And so these tools to remind them that we agree that it’s much better. Because outside, so you do a problem solving session, you say, would you prefer to dress for 25 minutes and then have 2 minutes to play?

Or do you have to dress for 2 minutes and actually play for 25?

They’ll go, play 25, dress 2 minutes.



And that’s where you’re going to say, OK, well we have agreement on that.

What can I do to remind you that this is what you want?

They’ll give you an idea and I promise, try it at home, you will– I mean it’s not going to work 100% of the time.

But it’s going to work, particularly at the beginning if you’re consistent about it, because they– you empowered them to decide for themselves and you reminded them in a nice fun way.

So it unfortunately takes more effort. But unfortunately that’s what our children have to go through. We’re here to coach them to really develop this prefrontal cortex.

Because what we want is for them to reach adolescence and not make huge mistakes. And mistakes suffer from inflation.

So the younger they make mistakes, the better.

Because when they’re 14, 15, and they go into a car with someone who’s drunk et cetera, you want them to anticipate, to realize the consequences of this. And so the more we actually teach them the consequences of their actions early on, the better– well, the more their prefrontal cortex is going to be developed and the better they’re going to react to this.

So it takes more time, but it’s so worth it. Because then you get into this really, you have this shared purpose and this sense of motivation to want to do things because they want to do them, not because we’re after them. And because you could, you could be playing. Come on. Very frustrating, but.

AUDIENCE: I have a lovely adorable daughter. Well, until she turned 19 months and she realized she can have an opinion. We are struggling, me and my wife, to figure out how do we negotiate with her. She’s 19 months, she can’t understand what we want to tell her.

But she realized she can have an opinion. She can wake up and say, I’m not going to sleep. We don’t just let her cry herself to sleep. But we want to, find out a way of negotiating with her. She will say she will not have breakfast this morning. She doesn’t like the milk is too cold, it’s too old. So it’s–

NADIM SAAD: Thanks for the question. It is very much, if I may, I think the word negotiation is in itself– I mean, ideally you move away from negotiating with your children.

Because otherwise everything turns out and turns into a negotiation. So what we want is actually for them to have a sense of control.

That’s crucial. That’s so for them not to be a two and just be resistant and not want to do anything. But so giving them limited choices.

So for example, do you want your milk cold or hot?

So you’re anticipating the issue before she tells you oh, I want my milk hot actually.

So you allow her to make decisions based on limited choices, that will be usually helpful. But you do not negotiate. And then if it’s actually she decided she wanted it cold. And she then goes no, actually I want it hot. Just like oh, next time Darling. Today you decided cold. Because otherwise it’s her way for– it’s her way to control you.

Because they do have this need for control. So don’t get me wrong, it’s totally normal. It’s age appropriate.

But you want to teach them that they can have control, but on your terms.

Otherwise they’re running the show. And then you’ve got a really difficult life because it all turns out into a negotiation. So limited choices, asking questions, and enforceable statements, which is another one I didn’t really mention. For example, children in this house who want to have dessert must have eaten their meal, for example. So instead of, if you don’t do this, you won’t get that, which is very threatening and it really creates opposition. You try and create more positive ways. So as soon as you’ve done that, you can do this. So it doesn’t put the child in resistance mode. I hope that helps.

AUDIENCE: Next to being, like giving them control, do you have some suggestions on how to let them break rules and be [INAUDIBLE]?

Because I mean that’s why they are wired to a certain age to them and try to break the rules.

How would you suggest to do that?

NADIM SAAD: So the question is how often should you let them break the rules?

Or should you let them break the rules at all? I mean what’s was the question?

AUDIENCE: So the question stems from the fact that they are wired to break the rule at some point.

And feeling that giving them too much of this management leadership style might then transform them into anarchists, they just want to avoid all of that when they are teenagers.

So how do you allow for an element of breaking the rules?

NADIM SAAD: OK, so it’s– well, that’s a tough one because my wife and I would answer differently.

Because she would allow more exceptions. Because of my parenting style, I allow less exceptions. And I think that’s what we’re talking about here.

My view of life is actually there are rules everywhere and actually my children have to teach– have to learn that early on. So I wouldn’t allow for a lot of breaking rules.

To make up for that, they are not allowed to break up many rules, there are some exceptions. So I say, OK, you know what, I’ll make an exception.

Go ahead, for example, break a rule that is not, you know, is not so important for me or so choose your battles. It’s fine. But the rest of the time, I make it clear that that’s the rule.

But to make up for that rigidity, you actually create a lot of autonomy within– you offer a lot of choices.

You anticipate a lot of issues by actually having covered it, by being collaborative. So they feel they have a say and they are empowered.

And they feel they’ve got a shared purpose and belonging. As long as you have this, you’d be surprised that children actually are a lot less intent on breaking the rules just to break them.

They break them because they just feel, they’re like oh my god, there are so many rules.

I can’t bear all this. So as long as you give enough control and autonomy, children will actually learn to make mistakes and it’s fine, but there are consequences to this. So they learn that there are consequences for mistakes.

It’s not big punishment and oh, horrible. It’s actually, the idea is not to make children feel worse in order to do better.

It’s for them to always feel good and to want to be in this family and want to do things correctly because they see that otherwise, you know, my parents are not going to be happy.

Or it’s not actually counter to the way the family functions. So hopefully it’s that, you know, it’s for you to decide how many exceptions you’re going to make.

But if you make too many, then you’re letting them run the show and not realize there is a consequence and that there are rules while you want to teach them the rules.

AUDIENCE: So sometimes breaking rules or at least perceived rules can be a good thing. Are you concerned or is there any evidence to show or counter evidence that you’re going to end up raising a child who isn’t capable of breaking rules when we see rules as an adult? Because I want my son to be able to break rules sometimes.

NADIM SAAD: Totally, again, it’s– I mean, it’s a similar question and I understand that. And it’s funny because I rarely get these kind of questions.

And clearly Google is very much, it is part of the Google culture.

And I think that’s great. I think it’s, you know, you want to be– to question, you know, the rules and then otherwise you can’t actually create a lot. I think it’s about finding this right balance as I was explaining.

But really it’s offering a lot of autonomy and a lot of opportunities to do things differently and to decide what the rules are.

So for example, in the problem solving session, you’re not imposing your rule on your children.

You’re telling them, OK, that’s what we want as an outcome as a family.

So what are the right rules for our family to achieve this? And sometimes you’ll go against your feeling like, oh my god, really?

But you’ll go with it.

And you’ll just go, you know, OK.

I mean, I don’t really agree but I’ll go with that.

That in itself is kind of a way to teach them to think differently, to think outside of the box, and to find solutions to problems.

I think that’s what we want to achieve. Just breaking the rules for the sake of breaking them is kind of goes, it will go against you.

And sometimes, and it’s fine, they have to make mistakes by the way.

So it’s not like that we’re going to create these perfect kids who never break the rules.

It’s just when they break them, instead of getting angry and thinking, oh my god how dare you do that, it’s actually oh, so sad. You know what the rules are. So that’s a mistake.

It’s OK and that’s the consequence that you agreed on.

And then instead of going no, that’s not fair. They’ll go, yeah, I mean I decided this consequence. It’s fine. You know, and it’s tough. It can be tough, but it’s fine.

I hope that answers.

AUDIENCE: Right, thanks for the talk. My kids are 8 and 12 and we have some routines that work quite well for us.

But then we have some which have been really non established, and which we would like to change because they don’t necessarily work out now. So for example, we used to always get into do some kind of practice after dinner.

But we find these days that perhaps everybody’s a bit tired then and piano practice can get a bit confrontational. And we’d like to bring it earlier in the day maybe before dinner and say then we’re met with big resistance. I wonder if you have tips on how to kind of deal with that.

NADIM SAAD: So is there resistance because they just want to have fun before and that they are used to doing it after or where does it come from?

AUDIENCE: Because in their mind, piano practice is always after dinner

NADIM SAAD: OK, so there’s–

AUDIENCE: At least that’s what’s voiced.

I mean maybe there’s something else. But yeah, that’s the objection that we’re given.

NADIM SAAD: Yeah, well this is very– usually that’s very much the purpose of a family meeting. Is when it’s outside of this kind of resistance already, you should do it before. But you can agree on why it’s better for them to do it earlier. I mean that’s where usually, when you get– you get buy in. It’s like any meeting.

To get buy in, they mustn’t be in resistant mode.

They have to realize what the intention is and why it’s better.

And or otherwise you say well, the consequence could be well you have to have dinner earlier and maybe then we can’t participate in dinner.

I mean things– you can actually make things up so that to make sure that– I mean it’s not, it’s just showing them the consequence of not going that way without it being a battle.

Because that’s what you want to remove and everything we do is remove those. This battle, these positions, that it’s a win-lose situation.

Actually everything is a win-win situation.

I mean we’re doing this for our kids.

So they have to realize it.

And the more you create this environment of shared purpose and we have the same goals, the more you can achieve no resistance to piano practice.

Actually yeah, it’s true actually, I’m going to do it. Invent, I mean do it, be creative, that’s what I mean. And they’re going to be your best creative, you know, they’re going to bring the best creative ideas. So allow them to have these ideas because maybe they’ll come up with something that works for you, and that you didn’t even think about.

So to have these conversations.

SPEAKER 2: All right, and with that please join me in a massive round of applause for Nadim Saad.

As found on Youtube

Parenting tips: how to raise happy kids

How do you raise happy kids this is a question your a loving parents heart no matter what we teach them if we haven’t taught them how to be happy or can’t parent in a way that makes them feel happy it’s rather all for naught isn’t it?

So it’s a very pertinent question

The first is the importance of modeling happiness can’t give something you don’t have

How can you teach kids happiness if you don’t have it yourself some parents think loving their family means living only for them

Driving them everywhere cleaning up after them and putting their kids needs and desires way ahead of their own

Parenting shouldn’t turn us into a short-order restaurant or a cleaning or taxi service

It does for some parents that teaches kids a bad lesson

A child who perceives his parent as a servant or someone whose life has meaning only through catering to his whims learns to be selfish

They come to believe others exist to do their bidding.

I have a friend who is raised like that

she tells me when she grew up, she kept having the strange feeling where are all the servants being catered to as such an ingrained part of her childhood that adjusting to adulthood was difficult for her because the servants were missing.

kids who are raised this way tend to feel the world owes them a living

so breaking out of the doormat mode

If you’re in one is pretty central to giving your kids a chance at a smooth transition to happy adulthood

When you take care of yourself make time for yourself and do things that make you happy

Your child learns those behaviors from youI

If she sees you going for your dreams and making decisions based on your inner truth she learns that doing those things is good

On the other hand if you model dropping everything to fulfill her latest dictate

She learns that parenting means self-denial and victimization she may then become a self-effacing parent herself or go the other extreme and forgo parenting entirely because it looks like such a sacrifice

So to raise happy kids be good to yourself treat yourself with respect and dignity the same as you treat your child

Don’t allow disrespect toward you any more than you’d allow someone to be rude to your kids

Make time for your creative desires and dreams

Plan in some scheduled personal time each week and make sure that you take it

Let your kids see you’re doing this and tell them the reason mommy needs to have some fun too or moms need time every day to relax

That shows your child that you value yourself and that personal time is important to everyone’s happiness

The second tip

I’ve learned for raising happy kids is the tremendous value of focused attention

The best form this can take is under updated one-on-one personal time with your child think back to your own childhood and some of your happiest memories

Chances are they include that hike you took with dad or the time you and mom went to the restaurant for a dessert

When we set aside an hour or two to be with our child away from distractions and interruptions we tell him he is important and loved

Giving focused attention is much more powerful than the diffused attention kids get while we cook dinner drive them somewhere or break up conversations to take calls on our cell phone

Children thrive on loving focused personal attention the way plants thrive on sunshine

Structure in some focused attention every day even if it’s only for five or ten minutes

Look at your child when he talks to you so he knows you’re completely with him

He loved it’s a subtle things that count

Giving focused attention teachers self-worth your child knows she is valuable because you valuer enough to carve out time for you in her uninterruptedly by the world for those moments that spells love and when she knows You love her by your actions not your words that brings security and heart fulfillment essential foundations of happiness

In this busy world where parents work two jobs and where kids social calendars can rival those of debutante it isn’t easy to make time to take care of yourself and under up to time for you and your child

But for happiness nothing could be more important think about your schedule what is not essential that you can cut out or wasted moments that you can eliminate

Use that harvested time to be good to you and your kid your child’s happiness and yours depend on it

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