By: Eliza Najar
10 secrets to raising a happy child
We love our children and want them to be happy and successful. But we seldom find ways to encourage them to live a joyful life. If happiness is what you desire for your child, then read the 10 secrets to raising a happy child.
1. Teach them gratitude
Thankfulness is the beginning of a happy life. Help your kids to stop by and appreciate the small blessings of everyday life. Whether it is planting a sapling, playing on the beach, watching a sunset or waking up the next morning, learn to express gratitude for the life you have, and your child will follow the same. Research reveals that expressing gratitude on a regular basis improves your health, sleep, emotional and mental well being, relationships, career and many more. Keep a 5-minute gratitude journal and you will soon realise how practising gratitude can lead to a happier and healthier life.
2. Listen before you speak
If your child comes back home, complaining about how much she hates to go school, don't interrupt, scold or compare her to the other kids. This will lead to suppressing of sad feelings, which further lead to frustration and anxiety when they become adults. Instead, you could patiently listen to the child and let her vent out her feelings. When you empathise with the child it makes them feel understood and they are able to easily get over their sad feelings. On the other hand, they might also find you a friend and confidant, willing to share the ups and downs of their life with you.
3. Allow them to express emotions
If your child is sad or upset about something, allow them to experience the feeling of sadness. For example, do not stop a boy from crying by telling him- “Boys don't cry.” Let the child understand that it is alright to be upset sometimes and it is as much a part of life as happiness. In the same way, if your daughter wins a competition and comes back home excited, jumping all around, do not stop her by saying - “Just relax.It’s not such a big thing”. Encourage your children to recognise their emotions and express them. This will help them in accepting the different facets of life and becoming balanced and happy individuals as adults.
4. Give gaps for unstructured playtime
As parents, we become so anxious to raise successful children that we often forget where their happiness lies. We pack their day with tight schedules, hardly giving them time to enjoy beautiful moments of their childhood. Do not overindulge so many structured activities. Let them enjoy the pleasure of playing by themselves and exploring their interests. It is ok to play around with other kids, daydream or scribble. Studies suggest that unstructured play helps in developing creativity in the child. Child-driven plays also enhance their social skills, ability to make decisions and set their own goals.
5. Ensure proper sleep time
Studies suggest that children who do not get sufficient sleep are more likely to get obese, have poor concentration, feel anxious or frustrated and have lesser creativity, just to name a few. On the other hand, getting good sleep has myriad benefits for children, including their growth and mental development. Hence, to help your kid get enough sleep, it is important that you set a consistent bedtime for them. Do not allow screen time before sleeping. Ensure a peaceful environment for your kid to sleep. Good sleep is crucial for a happy and healthy life.
6. Encourage physical activity
Let sports be an important part of your child’s lifestyle. Make sure you give them time to play around with friends. Playing doesn't mean PlayStation and games on iPad. Encourage your child to play outdoors and have a less sedentary lifestyle. Playing outdoors not only keeps your child healthy and fit but it also triggers the release of endorphins, a neurochemical responsible for our happiness.
7. Let them make their own choices
Studies have identified the benefits of allowing children to make their own decisions, be it planning their schedule or setting their goals. Such children are likely to become disciplined individuals who make better decisions in future. Researchers also suggest that children who choose their own punishment are less likely to break rules rather than the ones who are forcefully punished. Thus, as your children grow up, give them the freedom to make their own choices wherever possible. As a result, they will be not only happy but also successful.
Help them indulge in acts of kindness
Research reveals that children who find meaning in their life feel happy about themselves. But, what makes them feel their life is meaningful? When they indulge in small acts of kindness or generosity which make a difference to the lives of people around them, it makes their life meaningful. As a result, they feel happy and content. It is can be something as small as helping the mother in carrying dirty clothes for laundry or sharing a chocolate with a dear friend. Encourage your child to be generous and find ways to serve as a family.
9. Let them follow their passion
We are often so focused on the end result, that we fail to enjoy the beauty of the process. Children are filled with enthusiasm and curiosity. Do not limit their curiosity in a box of your own expectations. Help your child explore his interests and passion, not yours. Children who are encouraged by parents to follow their passion grow up to be confident and happy individuals. It is important that they find joy in what they are doing.
10. Be happy yourself
The last and the most important secret in raising a happy child is to be a happy person yourself. Parents are a child’s first role model. When your child sees you joyful and optimistic, he will imbibe the quality even before you realise. Remember, happiness is contagious. A happy family raises a happy child.