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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6. FOSTER A CONNECTION TO SOMETHING LARGER.
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