box-topright.gif
Learning Peace home page articlesparent/teacher workshops workplace workshops BooksPeaceful Parents newsletter LinksPress Room Contact us
 

Raising Happy Children

Our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meetthe events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves.- Wilhelm von Humboldt

Raising happy children deepest desire of every parent alive.  But how do we do make this happen?  What daily actions can we take to nurture happiness in the children with love so dearly?

Here are six specific steps you can begin taking now:

6 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO RAISE HAPPY CHILDREN

1.  NURTURE A SENSE OF GRATITUDE. 
Studies have shown that one attribute shared by the happiest people is an ongoing sense of gratitude, even when times are tough.  Happiness is not about avoiding the tough times or denying the feelings we have when difficulties come, but  maintaining a sense of gratitude through all the times and trials of life. 

Have your child keep a gratitude journal.  Encourage her to develop the nightly practice of  listing things she has been grateful for throughout the day, small as well as large, expanding the list over time to include things often taken for granted -- stars shining in the night sky, the scent of lemon, the first frost on the windowpane, the trill of a bird in the backyard.

Another way to foster gratitude is to model it.  Be lush with your praise for life.  Make appreciation and affirmation part of your daily language. Let a sense of gratitude melt into your heart and spill over to those you love.

2. ENCOURAGE THE HABIT OF POSITIVE THOUGHTS.
Marcus Aurelius once said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” People who are happy purposefully gravitate toward positive thoughts, resisting the urge to clutter their consciousness with worry, judgment, negativity, and pessimism.

Focusing on the positive is a habit that can be developed. Create a nightly ritual of asking your child to recount positive things that occurred throughout the day.  Not that we want our kids to deny or repress what troubles them, but it’s critically important to help them not  dwell on the negative. In the words of Helen Keller, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Teach your child not to squander precious moments of life looking at closed doors.

One way to help your child keep the door to happiness open is by making a Happiness Bank.  Have her decorate an old shoe box, then, on colored notecards, have her write down happy memories she recalls.  Put the notecards in the Happiness Bank, and have her keep adding to it. Include photos, drawings, and small tokens of happy moments.  On days when your child needs a lift, have her look inside her Happiness Bank.

3. HELP YOUR CHILD UNDERSTAND THAT FAILURE IS NEITHER PERSONAL NOR PERMANENT.
Happy people are not those who never fail, but those who take reasonable risks, realizing that failing is sometimes a step along the way.  When we personalize failure, we have the erroneous belief that we’ve failed because of a flaw or deficiency we possess. This is simply not true.  We are all, every one of us, good and bad at certain things.  It’s so important to help our kids see beyond defeat when they’re faced with disappointment or unrealized goals.  Possibility exists in every moment, and that’s what we want our kids to know.

Another key understanding: Failure is never permanent.  We can fail at something once and succeed the next time.  Or, we can fail at one thing and succeed at another.  Failure is never due to an innate and unchangeable quality within ourselves.

4. HELP YOUR CHILD DEVELOP AN AWARENESS OF HIS UNIQUE STRENGTHS AND TALENTS.
Share with your kids this wonderful quote by writer Shad Helmstetter:  “You are everything you choose to be. You are as unlimited as the endless universe.”  What activities absorb your child completely?  To what does she gravite?  What is she most curious about?  Whatever it is, help her explore it and provide her with materials and opportunities to pursue it.  Things we are drawn to often contain the seeds of our greatest strengths and talents.

It’s important to honor the natural talents and interests our children possess, even when  they clash with our expectations. For example, you may want your son to be a great athlete, but his interest lies in music.  Yes, offer him the opportunity to participate in sports, but offer the music lessons with as much enthusiasm and pride.  Childhood is a time when our passions can take root and grow.  Supporting your child in following his innate passions will increase his chances for success and happiness. 

5. MODEL OPTIMISTIC THINKING.
Research has shown that children learn optimism and pessimism, in large part, from their parents.  Catching yourself in your own negative reactions can help you avoid passing on the habit of negative thinking to your children. Pick up Learned Optimism and The Optimistic Child, both by Dr. Martin Seligman.  These books have a plethora of wonderful ideas about nurturing optimism.  What we focus on really does become our reality. 

6. FOSTER A CONNECTION TO SOMETHING LARGER.
Being a caring person, engaging in acts of kindness, having a spiritual connection, and making a difference in the lives of others connects kids to something larger than themselves.  Knowing we can make the world better through our own actions, even in small ways, empowers and gives us hope.

Being connected to something larger also gives kids a sense of the vastness and mystery of life.  Having hope, faith, connection, and a greater sense of purpose in this complex unpredictable world are all essentials for happiness. 

Here’s a wonderful quote I’d like to end with. It’s hanging in my kitchen, and I look at it every day --  a small reminder of the happiness we are all capable of creating:

“Happiness is not a destination.  It is a method of life.”  ~ Burton Hills

 

 

Learning Peace home page Articles Parent/Teacher workshops workplace workshops Books Peaceful Parents newsletter Links Press Room Contact us
Copyright Naomi Drew, 2007.  All Rights Reserved. www.LearningPeace.com Site Map