What I Want for My Child?

GOALS: Parents often tell pyschologist Ivan Honey that they want their children to grow up to be physically and emotionally well, happy, resilient and well adjusted. He created the Get Happier Schools Project to teach these goals.

IT’S that time of year when young people and their parents are nervously awaiting exam results from school. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, “As a parent, what are the most important qualities and skills I want my child to have when they leave school at 17 or 18 years of age?”.

I often ask parents this question, and sometimes they will quickly tell me that they want their children to achieve well at school and attain a high score, so they can gain entrance to higher education. But then, on reflection, they will always tell me that it is even more important that their children are physically and emotionally well, happy, resilient and well adjusted.

They may have read The Age newspaper of September 18 which stated, ‘Walk into any GP waiting room in Australia and chances are most of the chairs will be occupied by patients with depression, anxiety, other mood disorders or a myriad of other psychological problems.” (‘Mental Ills the Top Reason for G.P. Visits.’)

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.


Many parents notice signs of stress or unhappiness in their children but do nothing, hoping they will ‘grow out of it’ and that all will be well. But how do we know when it is best to do nothing or to take some action? Frequently, mental ill health can be traced back to beliefs and behaviours that developed in childhood, so it is crucial that children learn the skills and mindsets that enhance mental health and happiness.

As parents, we are all teachers, and we can help our children learn to be responsible and happy. The Get Happier Project is designed to assist children, teachers and parents, using a common framework and language. It is an approach to mental health and wellbeing that builds confidence and independence, and not dependence on a guru, fad or ‘quick fix.’ The program teaches these skills at possibly the most formative time of their lives; at primary school.

This does not mean that they never have problems. It means that when they are challenged, they have the tools to manage the problems effectively.

The Get Happier Program uses cutting edge psychology with a colourful, fun curriculum to help children understand themselves and others and get the best out of life. Even in difficult situations they learn how to be responsible for themselves and to take action to improve their situation. Find out more at gethappier.net

Helping our kids to get happier, a challenge ahead

Since the beginning of time, we have grappled with the question, ‘How do I get happy?’

For our early ancestors, it was enough to keep safe, warm and fed, and be part of a tribe. Getting on with the people in your life or tribe is still an essential part of happiness.

But many young people struggle to connect, engage in learning, and in discovering a sense of meaning and purpose.

Ivan Honey and his team developed the Get Happier Project to provide young people with the knowledge and skills they need to create happy and responsible lives.

Everybody makes mistakes, but when you do a u-turn you help solve your own problems …

Grade 3 Student at Nundah State School, Brisbane

It is also designed to support parents, teachers and schools to create a culture of wellbeing, positive relationships, high performance and emotional support.

The Get Happier Project is taught by Doug Dragster, a cartoon character, through stories, discussions and games. Students, teachers and parents learn to use the behaviours of the Open Roads and avoid the Dead End Roads. All children enjoy learning how good it feels when they encourage and appreciate their own unique gifts and strengths.

Most of us know instinctively that the Dead End Roads don’t create happiness, yet they have been so much part of our lives that we use them automatically. Ivan says:

‘If you want to make your life worse, stay on the Dead End Roads!’

Children quickly see the logic of travelling on the Open Roads. When they learn these ideas the classroom is transformed, and we know that happy children always learn more effectively.

Recently as part of a class assignment a nine-year-old girl wrote a letter to her principal after working through the dragster Get Happier resources in her class.

Part of her letter said: ‘Dear Mrs A, I strongly believe that all students in our school should learn about Doug Dragster. Don’t you want us all to make good, strong choices?

Doug Dragster teaches us about open and dead end roads. People travelling on open roads have great attitudes and are happy all the time……. Our U-turns help us when we are on dead end roads to change our attitude. Everybody makes mistakes, but when you do a u-turn you help solve your own problems …..’ As a result, the school is now a Get Happier School!

Preparing Kids for the Future

SKILLS: Pyschologist Ivan Honey says when children learn how to prevent mental health issues developing, then they have the resources to manage the challenges they will encounter, at home, in school and in life.

HAVE you ever tried to play a game without knowing the rules? Whether it’s monopoly or pick up sticks if you know the rules you can play with confidence.

Bendigo pyschologist Ivan Honey founded ‘The Get Happer Project’ especially to help children and parents learn the rules and framework to get happier. He says happiness is not just the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them. “We can’t be happy all the time, but when we have the knowledge and skills to make ourselves happier, we have the confidence to tackle the challenges that come our way.” He began training people in this new psychology of happiness, collaborating with psychiatrist Dr William Glasser, (founder of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy) to make these powerful approaches available to anyone.

Ivan then set about adapting the approaches that had worked so well with his clients and trainees. This includes a range of products and training materials to enhance mental health, wellbeing and to solve problems, and he has taught this in countries around the world.

Just as we can learn the skills to become physically healthy, we can learn the skills for mental health and happines.

Phycologist Ivan Honey

The program translates cutting edge psychology into stories, activities and games that engage children at their own level and allows plenty of practice of the skills to get happier. Schools have been using the program successfully for a number of years, but now Ivan has created a full school social and emotional learning curriculum, to ‘The Get Happier Schools’. It’s already working at Moama Anglican Grammar School and schools in Queensland, China and New Zealand.

He loves visiting ‘The Get Happier Schools’ and hearing children explain the mental model of how to get happier, and seeing teachers delivering the program in their classrooms and across the school. “In an ever challenging world, we all need a road map to develop resilience, improve our relationships, build self-worth, and manage our feelings, “ Ivan said. The Get Happier project provides a blueprint for wellbeing in the 21st century.

You can contact the Get Happier Project, [email protected] for a free overview.  Goto gethappier.net or attend oneof Ivan’s workshops.

Read More

MAGS students to ‘get happier’

By Mia Oberin

MOAMA Anglican Grammer primary school students are proving it’s never too soon to learn about good mental health after adopting the Get Happier Project.

Moama Grammar first embraced the whole of the school program in 2015 and are now its pioneers.

The program aims to provide children with a framework people can use to understand how to get the best out of their lives.

Get Happier Project founder Ivan Honey said the introduction of the program in schools was essential.

“The programs are very developmental so we have them for everyone, from kindergarten right through to grade six,” he said.

“Student wellbeing is just as important as literacy and numeracy and people all over the world are starting to address this.”

Mr Honey said the response from the students at Moama Anglican Grammar had been exceptional.

“I’ve been amazed at how these children have taken on the ideas,” he said.

“You can either wait until you hit a wall in life, or learn the skills early on and that’s what these kids are doing.”

Head of Pastoral Care Libby Barnes has been a strong advocate for the program since the start.

“As a community of students, teachers and parents, the program offers a shared language and understanding on how we can improve our relationships and solve our problems,” she said.

“A lot of the conversaion that we might have had in a counselling session can now happen quite easily in the classroom or in the playground,”

The program will continue in the school indefinitely and will become a part of the fabric of Moama Anglican Grammar School.