Before we became parents, we all thought about the type of mama we would be once it happened. What would we want to make sure our kids know about the world? What is important for us to instill in them? What can we do to make sure that our kids grow up to be healthy, happy people?
Now that we're all in the trial and error process of answering these questions with our own kids, here are a few things that should help to ensure your kids turn into the happiest versions of themselves!
Be engaged with your children
There is research to suggest that the more interaction and engagement you have with your kids, the easier it will be for them to communicate their concerns and their successes. Being attentive to your little ones means actively participating with them on things like art, puzzles, reading or even silly things like dancing and singing. The more time you spend playing with your babes while they're young, the more they will crave that attention as they grow, and they will turn to you for support, advice and comfort.
Don't give your kids everything they want
We sometimes feel like to give our kids the happiest life, we need to make sure that they never want for anything. Well, in reality our kids should absolutely know what it means to want
things that they can't have (or at least not right away). Of course our kids should never have to worry about where they are going to sleep that night, what will be for lunch or dinner, or whether or not they will have clothes to wear that day. What our kids should learn to accept is that they cannot own every toy they see in the aisles at Target, or go on extravagant outings every week. Teaching our children to be happy with what they have, and learning to wait for things they may want will pay dividends
down the road.
Manners and respect matter
Growing up in Houston, TX, this was something that was drilled into my very soul. The South doesn't mess around with manners. If you did not answer a question with a, "Yes, ma'am," or a, "No, sir," you were going to be sorry about it. You learned quickly to respect your superiors, and say, "Please," and, "Thank you," and, "Excuse me," and to treat others the way you expect to be treated. Let's not hold our kids back by not teaching our kids how to mind their manners. The truth is our kids will be much happier down the road if they have learned how to respect people starting at a young age.
Our kids should learn how to do hard things
Happy people have learned from their mistakes. If we don't allow our children the opportunity to try, and possibly fail, then they won't learn how to accomplish hard things on their own. Our kids can handle more than we think, and we should start teaching them to work out problems for themselves at a young age, and for simpler tasks, so they will learn the independence and critical thinking that goes along with accomplishing tasks.
Gratitude in everything
When it comes to teaching how to make our kids happy, gratitude might just be number one on the list... Well, this is number 5, but you get what I mean. Our children need to learn to be happy and content with the things they have been given, and the life they currently have. In a world where comparison is king, and where everything is posted and flaunted online, it is nearly impossible for our kids not to know what others have and what others do. But we need to teach our kids that every family is different, and there will always be someone with more, and there will always be someone with less. Teaching gratitude early on, and remaining consistent, will help us navigate the tougher (sometimes harder) feelings that can crop up in adolescence.
Family time makes for a happy family
Whether you choose to have family dinner every night, have a family night once a week, or make sure to plan a family vacation every year, family time matters to our kids. The more time spent with family doing activities to foster creativity, fun, learning, and relationships will make for a happier child, and a happier family. Make sure and mix it up so your kids still get surprised when you decide to have a sleepover watching movies together. Make sure and be consistent with how frequent your family time is. Make sure your children understand how important family time is to you
, and model that by making time for it.
Kids need to have structure and consistency
Having a basic structure in the home with expected behaviors, an agreed upon set of values, and a schedule that accommodates learning, work, and fun will make for happy, healthy, well-behaved kids. Our kids need to feel like they can depend on us to enforce a given set of rules in our home. They thrive in an atmosphere where they can expect consequences for their actions, and reinforcement for they good behaviors. Talk with your spouse about the values and rules that are important for you to instill in your kids, and make sure and discuss them with your children frequently.
Parents need to be happy too
The best way for children to learn behaviors are for them to model behaviors that they see in the home. So if we want our children to be happy, we also need to make sure that we are happy! If that means that you and your spouse need to make time for a date night every week, or if that means you need a few minutes to yourself in your room to watch your favorite shows, then make sure to fit it in. Our children will be happier if they see us making time for things that matter to us. Our kids will pick up on our habits to boost our mental health, and you'll be surprised when they start to pick up on your little tricks to stay happy.
It's okay if they're not good at everything
For our kids to be happy, they need to learn that it's okay to be good at some things and not great at other things. Try playing games that might be a little more challenging for your children to show them it's okay not to win, or okay not to get many points. By teaching them to try their hardest at everything they do, win or lose, you will have happier children at the end of the day. I can speak from experience, when I work with my kindergartners, I wish some of them had been introduced to this concept early on.
They are unique
The happiest people are those who are comfortable in their own skin. Teaching your children to accept themselves, warts and all, will help them in all walks of life. Help them to foster their own personalities, introduce them to new things to find out what they excel at and what they enjoy doing, and let them express themselves through their style of clothes, backpacks, and room decor. Make sure and teach them that every person has their own interests and opinions, and that to be the happiest we will be accepting and respectful of uniqueness.
It's okay to ask questions
Sometimes, as adults, we reprimand children for asking too many questions and being nosy. Trust us, we should want our children to be curious, to ask us questions, and to want to learn about the world. By letting our children ask questions, and by being thoughtful and kind in answers, we can help to build a relationship of trust and attentiveness that our children will remember for the harder questions down the road.
Kids need to learn how to listen to their own bodies
If we want our children to be continually happy and healthy as they grow, we need to teach them how to listen to their own bodies and emotions, and how to cope with feelings of sadness, frustration, or anger. When our kids are able to recognize when they are feeling overwhelmed by certain situations, we can teach them techniques to help reduce those yucky feelings. Try teaching them how to take a break for a few minutes, or how to do breathing exercises when they feel anger. Help them to self-soothe when they are feeling sad. When our children are able to communicate when they are upset, we can all work towards making sure they get back to their normal happy selves.
Be silly, laugh, and be a kid!
If we want to have happy kids, we need to let them be silly! We need to let them goof off and giggle and act their age. Let's let our kids be kids. Let them get dirty outside because they were making mud pies for dessert. Let them finger paint without worrying about the ruined clothes. Let them have a sweet treat to show them how much you appreciate their fun side. Go to the park and run around! By letting your kids do things kids love to do, you will make sure to have happy, healthy babes!
Helping our kids to be happy can seem like the hardest thing ever, especially when they're the furthest thing from happy while throwing a major tantrum in the grocery store. BUT, it's definitely the most important thing we can do! Whether you're already a pro, or looking to fit a couple of these tips in, you're on your way to raising happier little ones that are a joy to be around!
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