Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Indeed, happiness is a state of mind that should be cultivated and nurtured from a very young age. So, how can parents help their children learn to be happy? Let’s take a look.
The best thing that parents can give their children apart from care and education, is a loving and happy home. A happy home is a place where children are raised with an optimistic outlook in an affirmative environment. Children cared for in a happy home grow up into happy and positive adults.
Here are some secrets to help you redefine ‘happy’ in your home and raise a cheerful toddler.
1. Model happiness
Be happy yourself. A cheerful parent contributes a great deal towards creating a happy home. Be enthusiastic and energetic even on days when you don’t feel like it. Also, be a fun parent who learns to ignore little mistakes. Do not hesitate to laugh, tickle and roughhouse with your toddler every day!
2. Spend quality time
Most parents are so busy living their lives that they hardly have time to spend with their toddler. Radhika Chandrasekar, mom of two-year-old Zoey from Cochin says, “The days when I’m very busy and preoccupied, I see Zoey throwing a lot more tantrums than usual and being very cranky. But the moment I sit down to play her favourite game of ‘cooking’, her mood instantly changes!”. Carving out time to play, hug, cuddle and nurture your little one is key to raising a happy toddler.
3. Keep the little one occupied
Teach your toddler something new every day. It could be something as simple as making soapsuds with the hand wash or something more elaborate like mixing homemade play dough. Toddlers are naturally curious and love to learn. So, keeping them interested and engaged helps them stay cheerful and prevent tantrums.
4. Build relationships with loved ones
Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to spend time with people, like grandparents, who love their company. Keep aside some time every week for grandparent–toddler interaction. If grandparents aren’t around, make sure that you connect your child with his grandparents through phone or video calls.
5. Teach your toddler to reach out
Teaching your little one to share and care for others is a quality to inculcate right from a very young age. Call home a few other children of her age group for regular play dates. Encourage and applaud your toddler every time she shares her toys. Give her plenty of opportunity to do something kind for others. Toddlers love to please their parents, so a lot of positive encouragement whenever your child does something nice will bring plenty of smiles on her face.
6. Stick to a routine
A predictable routine is a must for every toddler household. Toddlers thrive on routines for it gives them a sense of security to know what will come next. As much as possible, try not to deviate from your toddler’s usual routine. You can also make a chart with pictures and hang it up in his room. Teach him to look it up for what is going to happen next! This will pave the way for a happy and settled child, and also happy adults!
7. Teach the little one to be thankful
Use the words ‘Thank you’ often in your home. Every time your toddler offers you a toy or passes the plate, say ‘thank you’. Also, teach your toddler to do the same. It has been proved over time, and with research, that thankful people are happy people! So, start the practice right from toddlerhood!
8. Give your toddler a loving home
A toddler feels safe in her home when she sees that those around her are cheerful. A home with angry or sad family members can unsettle your child. For as small as she may be, she can still understand unhappy vibes and reflect the same.
Choose and practice happiness every day. It is extremely contagious and you will find your home becoming a joyous place where you and your children love to live in.
Anitha Bennett is a freelance author who has written books for children from preschool to preteen levels. She also conducts workshops for parents, teachers and children.