Does your child’s smile light up your life?
Yes of course it does.
Do want to see your child smiling and laughing all the time?
Of course you do.
Every parent longs to have a happy child. It is heart breaking to see children sad and annoying to see them sulking. But as much as parents hate it – those are the expressions they most frequently encounter.
So what is the recipe for childhood happiness? Why does your child not look happy even though you are doing ‘everything’?
What should you do?
1. Be happy yourself
Yes you want smiles to greet you whenever you turn to look. But how often do you smile?
Moods are contagious!
If annoyance, irritability and worry – are all that your face displays all the time, that is what you will find reflected in your child’s face.
Remind yourself to smile. Laugh whenever you have a chance. And remember that nothing ever got better by worrying about it.
2. Encourage children to build relationships
“Don’t cry – I’ll get you one – just for you”
Have you heard yourself saying that every time you’ve found your child in conflict with another child or even yourself for something?
It may not really be the right thing to do.
Affluence is isolating. The more ‘things’ one has – the less one needs ‘people’. When there are more things – there are fewer conflicts – but that means fewer interactions as well. And therefore fewer relationships.
‘Relationships’ are what truly bring happiness. It is important to learn how to build and maintain relationships.
Teach children qualities like kindness, sharing and empathy that will help them in this.
3. Allow children to express their emotions
In the adult world emotions need to be kept safely wrapped up in attractive if fake smiles. But the kiddie world is different.
The rules and decorum of the adult world cannot and should not be applied to children.
Children are emotional creatures and need to express their negative emotions as openly and immediately as their positive emotions. It is wrong to expect children to internalize and put a lid on their negative emotions in order to exhibit ‘perfect’ behaviour.
It is difficult for children to stifle their free flowing emotions and it causes them stress that they cannot handle.
4. Do not overschedule your child’s life
Inventing, creating and day dreaming is what childhood is all about.
When you find - “Hurry up – don’t waste time” becoming the key phrase in your conversations with your child – you can be sure that things are on their way to going horribly wrong.
Hurrying children, herding them from one class to another – and compelling them to live within the rigid structure of what needs to be accomplished on a particular day causes damaging childhood stress and intense unhappiness.
5. Do not pressurize children to perform
Constantly harping on performance and focusing on end results builds anxiety. When you teach your child that happiness hinges on success – he / she is constantly hounded by the fear of failure.
It is very important to emphasize the importance of effort and not performance.
Children need to be taught that real happiness comes from ‘doing’ – from ‘being able to do’.
They need to realize that success is a by-product of unrelenting effort. And that each step of the effortful journey that paves the way for success - should be celebrated – not just the arrival at the destination.
Your child will a child only once.
Be yourself – let your children be themselves – keep childhood unfettered – bask in the sunshine of kiddie smiles.