We all want our children to be happy – to see them smile is usually the best part of our day! Although some traits come from genes, and some are inculcated through habits and activities, I belive that kids who practice positivity as a habit, grow up into adults who know how to create their happiness.
Like a Chinese proverb goes - "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed Hhim for a lifetime."
Don't make your children happy; teach them to create their own happiness.
Here are a few suggestions to help create a positive breeding ground for your children:
Don't grant their every wish
That’s right; don’t try to make them happy by doing everything they say. It will not only make the child think they have power over you, but it may also make them feel entitled. They may grow up to find it difficult to deal with a day that doesn’t run on their whims. Teach them how to get the things they want. through negotiation and compromise.
For example, they can donate a toy when they want a new one, or they can finish their tasks before taking out the PlayStation.
Create a connection and spend time together
Nothing could be more positive for your child than for them to have an intimate and positive relationship with you. Knowledge that someone cares and is looking out for them makes them feel secure and encourages them to be brave.
Spend time with your kids to learn about each other, through which you can forge a bond. People who have gone through the same things, usually form bonds by sharing their stories. Tell your children stories about your childhood, of the days when you were the same age as them. See the fascination and the spark of imagination evident on the child's face as they capture the story in their mind's eye. It builds a sense of camaraderie and trust. That right there, is a bond being created.
Similarly you could spend time with them reading books or just talking about things in general. Talk about their school, their friends and their life. Teach them something new that they might enjoy. Bring out the board games. Go for a bush-walk. Teach them cool tricks you used to do as a kid.
Don't refuse their help
As kids learn that they are capable of doing the same things that you do, it makes them feel grown up. They take a sense of pride in this ability. Let them help you around the house. Let them help you fold the laundry, to put things away, to load the dishwasher, or to make the bed. Their inclination to learn and help you is them reaching out to you. So teach them how to do it right, instead of getting frustrated that the task is taking twice the time. Think of this as an opportunity to share your time with them.
Communicate, don't command
Communication is of absolute importance for any relationship to prosper. Speak ‘with’ and not ‘to’ the child. Communicating means being understood, not just heard. Through how you communicate with your child, you are teaching them how they should communicate with others.
Shouting and screaming at children can be detrimental to their mental health. Over time, it can create a sense of fear and at times, self-doubt. Not only does shouting not get your intended point across, it also carries across a wrong message. As tempting as it is to shout sometimes, remember that they are still learning how to handle a lot of things.
We all make mistakes. Being a grown up doesn’t exempt you from one. So when you do something that you shouldn’t have, like shouting at your children (for no fault of theirs), it makes complete sense to kneel down to their level and apologise. And mean it when you say sorry. Be sure to provide them with an explanation and not an excuse for your behaviour.
Apologising not only puts you both back on the same page, it also assures the child that you are not above them. That mistake is mistake, no matter who makes it. It also helps end the situation on a positive note. And that is a valuable lesson - make amends while you still can.
You feel good when someone thanks you for your help. And so will your children. Make a habit of thanking your children when they respect your request and/or help you. It just makes them more positive towards life and helping others.
Seeing positive side of things
It is a life skill to be able to see something positive in every situation of life. Teaching your kids to have a perspective from which they can figure out how to turn things around, is extremely valuable and can help carry them through rough patches of life.
Handling failure and rejection
Failure and rejection can bring anyone down; anyone who is not ready for them. They have the power to break motivation and breed fear, if we give them that power.
It is disappointing to see your child being rejected. It could be another child refusing to play/share or an adult rejecting their friendly advances. But it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the negative effect it has on your child. Other than just consoling the disheartened child, you should also reassure that it will be alright. Appreciate your child for putting in the effort. Tell them that you believe in them. Give them other viable options. Distract them and get them to do something they feel happy doing, so it gets back their mojo.
Foster healthy competition
In today’s world, competition is everywhere. It is very natural for your kids to feel competitive towards each other and/or other kids. Competition is good in a way that makes children just go for it. They put in a lot more effort when they realise that there is a prize to be won.
While competing is important, the attitude with which they compete is more important. If you see them wishing others unwell so they can win, that is cue for you to step in and correct them. They should be concentrating on their own efforts towards winning and not on sabotaging others’.
Even though you encourage them to compete with others, you should also teach them to love themselves. They don't have to fit into a certain mould. They don't have to try to make others happy at the cost of their own happiness.
The more accepting you are of their quirks and uniqueness, the more they would learn to see that it is okay to be themselves.
Be happy and positive
You can’t teach your children to be happy and positive if you are not yourself. Children learn a lot from the way you see yourself and how you handle situations in your life.
Practice mindfulness and cultivate the aforementioned habits. Teach by example and be conscious of things you do and say. Keep your mind in a state of calm. Do things that are important for your self development. Have a healthy self respect and self esteem. Practice kindness and compassion.
Wake up and bring everyday in with a smile. Make a habit of telling you love them through the day. Have a healthy positive relationship with your partner.
My son was a very fussy baby. He only settled when he was being held, he didn’t nap for very long during the day, he was very uncomfortable after a feed (more so in the evening) and he never slept through the night.