As parents, one of our aims is to ensure that our children are happy. We want them to grow up to love and be loved, to follow their dreams and be successful in all that they do. But how would you judge whether your primary schooler is happy? Just answer these questions with a Yes or No:
- Is your child affectionate and comfortable with people around him?
- Does your child share the events or things that happened during the day with you?
- Is your child smiling and happy all the time?
- Does she have friends and get invited to play dates and birthday parties?
- Does he follow a normal routine or is it a struggle to get him to do so?
- And what about you – do you always complain and grumble about things in life?
Your answers to these questions wouldn’t really reflect your child’s happiness quotient. But, it would get you thinking about whether you are raising a happy child, one who is always seeking to learn and has a positive attitude.
As a parent, there are various things you can do to ensure you are raising a happy child – from being in the moment, to communicating with him, to letting him be himself. Here are some very simple but important aspects of parenting you can follow.
- Let her make choices: As parents, we rarely let our children do what they want. They have little control over their lives – they are constantly being told what to do, what to wear, where to go, what to eat...the list goes on. To ensure that you bring up a happy child, allow her to make choices sometimes. More often than not, my two boys want to take different things for lunch and snacks. I let them make a choice and write a weekly menu where each of them gets to choose what he wants to eat. This way, not only do they make a choice but also learn to accept that others can take decisions as well. Making a choice will give your child a sense of happiness and responsibility.
- Teach him to be grateful: Teaching your child to express gratitude will foster a positive attitude, compassion and optimism within her. A simple way to do this would be to ask him to write down the happy things that happened on a piece of paper and store them in a ‘gratitude jar’. Or, you could get him to maintain a gratitude journal where he could list the happenings that make him happy. Let him read the list often – it will help him focus more on the positive aspects of life.
- Let her express her emotions: Children scream when they are angry, cry when they are sad and throw a tantrum when things don’t go their way. These can happen at home, or in a crowded place like a mall or a park. But remember, once your child has started her tantrum, don’t try to shut her up. She sometimes needs an outlet for her emotions. Let her vent it out before you offer help. Letting out emotions can help her heal and not internalise negative emotions that could lead to other emotional issues.
- Be in the moment: Do you reply to your child’s questions in monosyllables? Are you always busy checking your mails or scrolling through social media feeds when you are supposed to be spending quality time with your child? If yes, then you need to stop. You cannot engage with your child or be in the moment when you are preoccupied with something else. Your child can understand that you're not really there for him. So, listen to him when he speaks. It boosts his self-confidence and happiness levels.
- Ensure that she follows her interests: When your toddler first learns to throw the ball at you, it may not be the perfect throw. But if you tell her where she went wrong and guide her towards success, her happiness will know no bounds. When you let your child practise something she truly enjoys, she will love the success that comes with it. Make sure she follows her interests; it will teach her discipline and persistence, and help her experience joy when her accomplishment is recognised.
- Let him keep a journal: If your child is over five, he can record his life events in his own journal. That will help him keep a record of his daily inspirations, experiences and discoveries. If he is younger, you can make a colourful journal – stick a photo of his first time at the beach or the moment he started walking, or write down the first word he spoke. Make him capture the memories of the big moments in his life. Help him seek beauty in small moments.
- Communicate with her: Ask your child how her day was. Converse with her. Most of the times when my children and I are heading home from school, we discuss the lunch and snacks they had in the cafeteria, or any funny incident that happened in their class or something exciting they did at school. Make the conversations real. Be in the moment when you talk and talk to your child as often as you can.
But remember, for all the above methods to work, you need to be happy as well. So, to teach your child to be happy, be a happy parent. When your child knows his parents love and support him unconditionally, he is more likely to take healthy risks. He will grow up into an individual who is confident about his decisions, and learns to accept and change his shortcomings. Nothing makes a child happier than knowing that his parents will always be there for him.
Pratibha Pal is an avid blogger and writes regularly on her eco-parenting blog, www.pratsmusings.com, and her blog on social media, www.socialmediawired.com/blog