So what does it take to raise a happy child?
I did the lengthy research and attempted to shorten and streamline the long list of skills that could give our children a happy youth. I discover that most- if not all- of them are the same things that our parents tell us.
I scoured several scientific studies performed by five different organizations namely: American Psychological Association, Peaceful Parenting, Live Science, Kid’s Health and Web MD. They had their unique lists but manifested common denominators.
I did my best to compound them into just five, and here it goes:
1. Strong Relationships
Having a strong relationship with your spouse, establishing a strong bond with your child and serving as role models as individuals and as a couple.
The first human beings that your children see, interact with and learn from are you.
As early as their toddler years they already start imitating your behavior, actions, and words especially as they grown into their grade school years.
Being their role model – do as you preach!
Their basis of right or wrong is you- if they see mommy and daddy doing it, it must be okay to do! That is why it is crucial that you show the following:
- You take care of yourself in all aspects – if they see that you respect your body, take care of your own personal welfare and health, maintain a spiritual practice, have an education and/or continuing to educate yourself including studying child development, they will most likely follow in your footsteps.
- You have a strong relationship with your spouse, family members, friends, and acquaintances–having a tight-knit family and affectionate parents make children feel safe within their family circle and teach them to trust their parents. Having a strong bond with your kids make them feel loved and are likely to stay away from vices. If you show respect to other people, they are likely to do the same especially when they grow into adulthood.
- Being their role model – do as you preach! I have found myself in situations where my toddler would “reprimand” me for not saying grace before meals because this is what her father and I have been teaching her. It’s funny but true- they take after their parents!
2. Trusting Your Child
I find this hard even in the smallest, simplest scenario but trusting your child that he can do things without me could be stressing. As parents who want to protect our children from all forms of danger, we want to either watch their every move or keep them within proximity to us.
While our intentions are great, too much of it could make our children feel like we don’t trust them which could lead to relationship problems. It also could derail their independence- better if we develop them to become independent individuals as early as their childhood! I remember my 6-year old daughter’s first sleepover- I was dreading it but after giving it a shot and trusting her, we all survived, and she had a lot of fun!
Trusting your child also means that you trust his imperfections and being okay with it!
3. Making time for family
Get to know them, communicate with them and spend quality time with them. It includes not just your children but especially your spouse and other family members.
I would say that this is pretty basic- getting to know your child and what makes them happy, sad, angry and other things help you determine the best step to take for each situation. Your child will appreciate it which could yield a positive response in any situation, even challenging ones.
One valuable outcome from getting to know your child is the method of verbal communication and body language the works for them. You will be able to reduce the incidents of misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
On the other hand, allowing for some occasional arguments is healthy. It does not only provide the youngster to speak out and feel valued and heard- but it also fosters an environment where he feels safe to argue when needed in a loving way.
Through communication, you can also express your love and affection for your child, firmness or discipline through words and tone when applicable. Discipline is just as important as telling them you love them, especially when paired with an explanation why something is wrong and should never be done again.
Same goes to the family- when your child sees that you have an open line of communication with the family, it shows them that communicating is good even when times are challenging.
4. Limits and discipline
Setting limits and discipline and reinforcing them when applicable and being flexible when it’s called for.
Rules are good when they endeavor to distinguish good from bad and done the best way possible.
When you lay down laws, it’s good to reinforce them and apply to all. This way, your child understands the importance of a sense of responsibility. It is great to have some room for flexibility when the needed arises, especially for one-off situations. This encourages your child to think and be involved in the case,
Case Studies. (2012, April 10). Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://peacefulparenting.com.au/who-we-help/case-studies/
Pappas, B. (2012, January 12). 10 Scientific Tips For Raising Happy Kids. Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://www.livescience.com/17894-10-scientific-parenting-tips.html
Parenting that works. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/10/parenting.aspx
Dowshen, S. (n.d.). Nine Steps to More Effective Parenting. Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/nine_steps.html#
How to Be a Good Parent: 10 Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/10-commandments-good-parenting?page=4