As parents, we all want the same things for our children. We want them to follow their dreams and succeed in life, to love and be loved and mostly, to be happy. Unfortunately, we don’t have much control over our children’s happiness. My daughter is always sunny and merry while my son gets grumpy easily. They have different temperaments from their genes. That however, should not mean that their happiness is predetermined because our genes can be switched on or off depending on our environment. A survey conducted showed that happy and optimistic children are the by-product of happy and optimistic homes, regardless of their genetic makeup.
So what can you do to ensure your home is perfect for raising a happy child? Here are six things you can look at:
1. Foster Connections
The best way to ensure that your child’s emotional well-being is balanced and positive all the time is to make him or her feel connected – to you, other members of the family, friends, neighbors, teachers and people who matter. Teens especially, who feel loved, acknowledged, cared for, understood and wanted emerge as the kids who do not engage in risky behavior like smoking, drinking and drug addiction. These are also children who cope with emotional stress well.
You can help be connected with your child simply by loving her unconditionally, providing support and care and an ear to always listen.
2. Don’t Try to Make Your Child Happy
If you try to grant every wish your child has, you are only making her happy in the short-term. They will grow to expect their wishes to be granted all the time, and the real world does not work this way. Instead, remember that your child needs to experience anger, rejection, sadness and frustration and find ways to deal with these emotions to shine out and be happy. If we don’t let them learn to cope with these feelings, these feelings will crush them when they are in their teens as they don’t know how to deal with them.
3. Nurture Your Happiness
You are responsible for your own happiness and if you nurture your happiness, there is a bigger chance your children will be happy too simply because they absorb everything from us. If you are constantly moody, there is no way your children will be happy. Happy parents are more likely to have happy kids, while depressed parents will have kids who are twice as moody. The best thing you can do for your kids’ emotional well-being is to first attend to yours: have enough ‘me’ time to relax, rest and most importantly, to romance your partner. When parents have a positive relationship with one another, it is reflected on their children.
4. Praise the Right Stuff
Self-esteem and happiness always go hand in hand. We can’t give our children one without the other. Having said that, you also need to be careful on how you praise your children. Praise specific traits like intelligence and prettiness can undermine a child’s confidence later, when they grow up believing they were praised for something out of their control. Instead, praise the effort your child puts into something, the empathy she shows towards someone or the care she gives a pet. Praising hard work, creativity and effort always goes a long way.
5. Allow for Success and Failure
A big mistake good parents make is doing too much for their children, so much so that they don’t know how to fall and pick themselves up. As much as we want to bolster our kids from the harshness of life, we should also sometimes stand back and let them learn from their mistakes. It is only when they struggle a bit will they know how to master something without failing. The repeated experiences of mastery will give them the zest and enthusiasm to always excel.
6. Practice Gratitude
If you don’t practice habitual gratitude, you never know what you have to be thankful for. There is a strong link between feelings of gratitude and emotional well-being. A person who practices gratitude constantly will never be depressed. People who keep journalize daily gratitude are optimistic and make greater progress towards goals. For children, make them take out a few minutes a day before bedtime to name aloud the things they are thankful for today. If made a practice, this can keep them truly happy.
What can you add to this list?