It’s actually not difficult, since children are naturally happy and find happiness easily.
All you really have to do is not actively undermine them and you’re already ahead.
I took to heart some painful lessons from my own childhood, and so with my kids I make an effort to:
Not belittle them, their efforts or their interests.
Not criticise, pick on, or draw attention to perceived faults.
Not mock, ridicule or laugh at them.
Limit the harm
We aren’t perfect. I get angry, frustrated, and can be petty or stubborn.
But I make an effort to limit the harm my bad mood might have on my kids.
I apologise to them, and explain that even if they’ve done something wrong, they aren’t to blame for my mood.
Sometimes our reactions as parents can be remarkably childish. It’s important to admit that and apologise rather than dig in and get defensive.
Focus on happiness
As part of my own efforts to be happier I’ve taught my son the “feeling game”, which is basically about finding good things to focus on rather than bad ones.
He’s taken to it with enthusiasm, and will even remind me of it when I’m frustrated or tired.
He has learned through his own experience that focusing on the wanted aspects of life is far more enjoyable than whining about the unwanted.
I don’t think we have to be perfect to be good parents. But I hope at least that my kids will grow up with a clear sense that happiness is accessible to them, and that my honest admission of my slip-ups and shortcomings on this path will aid them in their own journey.