You’re responsible for your child’s happiness, but not always. And that’s the important thing to remember. To raise happy kids, you are not required to sacrifice your peace of mind and all your time. You can have a happy child, as well as a happy mom/dad, without foregoing one at the cost of other.
We all want our children to be happy and to grow up into happier, responsible adults, to be successful in their future careers, to have good relationships. We want our kids to be mentally and physically healthy, both when they’re in their childhood and when they grow up. To help you with that, this article will guide you to develop some early happiness habits that can go a long way towards raising happy kids.
1. Practice Optimism
As shown in studies, children who are actively taught by their parents to be more optimistic are proven to be half as likely to become depressed when they start adolescence. Optimists are also physically and mentally more healthy and more successful in many areas of their life, as studies, sports, career, and marriage.
Therefore, for both you and your child to be happier in a more sustainable way, you should start to practice optimism in your child’s youth. Perhaps you could write down or talk about both of your daily blessings, or look forward to a happy event together, as their friend’s birthday party.
2. Avoid Perfectionism
Though it is normal to want to boast about your child’s achievements to your friends and family, but beware. It is scientifically proven when you overly focus on your child’s achievements while associating those with their natural abilities, your child is substantially more likely to develop depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health disorders, in their later life.
So, instead, you should place more focus on the things they have worked hard to accomplish, the things they can control, rather than praising them for the things they can do easily.
Do not stop praising altogether, but acknowledge your child put in a lot of effort into something, showed a great amount of grit and perseverance to reach the good results.
3. Respond With Empathy
Research shows people trained to have good relationship skills have higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. Also, they are more likely to have better treatment results for any existing depression, as well better long-term protection against developing depression.
So, if you teach your child good relationship skills, they will get along with other children and you better, and will be a happier person long into the future.
4. Take Up Realistic Responsibilities
For children – and adults too – the feeling of being wanted and needed is very important to long-term happiness. So if your four year old is always wanting to help out with everything you’re doing around the house, let them have a certain important reasonable job that actually needs doing and they can do well — like filling a pet’s bowl each morning or putting away the cutlery, so they feel as though they are making a contribution to the family and feel connected to you.
5. Use Your Active Listening Skills
Though you want your child to be happy, it is okay for you both to experience sadness and anger and to express these in a non-violent way. However, it is unlikely your child will know how to express negative emotions without being taught. This is where active listening comes in handy – when your child is experiencing negative emotions, ask them to clarify exactly how they are feeling.
Are they angry with you? Make it clear this is okay and ask them why. If you have rightfully denied your child permission to do something, acknowledge their feelings but still be firmly and calmly resolute. Don’t change your mind about it. When they have calmed down about whatever it was, you can still comfort them about it.
Avoid feeling responsible for your child’s happiness, swooping in during tantrums and tears with short-term relief like candy – leave them instead to experience their own emotions for themselves, even the negative ones. Allow them to cry or even kick something or break something that won’t injure them or you.
When they are ready, let them talk about how they are feeling. In this way, they can develop their own coping mechanism to feel better, for times when you aren’t around to help them, which is good for them to be truly happier in the long term.
6. Give Cuddles And Hugs Often
Mainly in younger children, physical contact is absolutely essential for developing the ability for connections, as above, for lifelong relationships and just for childhood. The benefits of this are proven – social connections are a very important predictor of your child’s future general happiness and positive physical contact in early childhood is an easy way to effectively communicate love to your child, as well as to increase your child’s capacity for connections.
Therefore, if you have a baby, hold them as much as possible. Even with older children, try to factor in physical contact as much as you can.
For your child’s emotional well-being they also need as many close relationships as possible. These are relationships like they have with you, with other family members and siblings, with next-door neighbors, with their friends and with any family pets.
In this way, your child can develop a great sense of emotional well-being to set them up for the rest of their life.
7. Don’t Forget Your Own Happiness
Although this might seem like a selfish thing, when you are raising a child and are one of the most important and influential adults in their life, it is perhaps no surprise to you that your happiness during their childhood directly predicts your child’s ability to be happy and thus to be content and successful, both now, in their childhood and also in the future and their career.
Research indicates children with parents who feel depressed are substantially more likely to show behavioral problems, whereas children who have happy parents are more likely to be happy too – your child is said to start emulating their parents’ behaviors at around six weeks.
For you to be happy, you could surround yourself with happy family and friends often – perhaps meet for coffee or get together in your house for a catch-up, or even a party. Or you could relax, leaving your child with a babysitter or relax when your child is at school. You could spend time in nature or go to the cinema.
Did you know your kid’s willpower can make or break his future? Click the link to this eye-opening post to find out how you can build a strong willpower in your children.
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Authors’ Bio: Ellie Coverdale writes for Ukwritings on matters of lifestyle and travel. She loves to share her insights on seeing the world and how to maximise your personal and professional life for adventures. Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.
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