Ask any parent what they want for their child and they will answer that they want a healthy, happy child. In some ways, for a parent, it is easy to ensure health. Ensuring that your child eats healthy food, gets plenty of exercises and learns to keep good hygiene helps children stay healthy. But what can parents do to raise a happy child?
Here are some ideas.
- Have fun together. Think back to your own childhood. Most of our happy memories are those in which we were a part of a group – either our family or friends – having fun, together. Make sure to chalk out some family time everyday – either share a meal, read a book, cook together, or play together for a short while every day.
- Be happy. Take care of yourself. Children are like sponges. They will absorb stress and anxiety from you if you are stressed and anxious all the time. So make time to take care of yourself. Nurture your hobbies and interests. Your children will learn a valuable lesson in how to care for themselves and be responsible for their own happiness.
- Praise carefully. Often people think they should praise their children a lot in order to raise a confident child. Actually, children have their own inner radars that quickly identify false praise. Praise effort, creativity, persistence and hard work instead of the results. Do not praise appearance like “Oh, how pretty you are.” Having your child attaching their self-worth to his/her appearance is risky, especially as their appearance changes in adolescence and then later as they age. Similarly, “You are so smart,” is a rather meaningless piece of praise. Children who are excessively praised for their intelligence are less likely to choose challenging subjects later for fear that they will appear less smart when they fail.
- Allow for failure. Your duty as a parent is not to ensure your child’s continued success and happiness, but rather to equip your child to face and manage those times of failure and sadness. So do not shelter or overly-coddle your child. Resist the temptation to make difficult decisions for them or finish their homework for them. Let them face natural consequences. They will slowly learn from their errors and understand that momentary failure can be overcome.
- Be grateful. Teach your child to be grateful for all that he/she has. Do this by modelling gratitude during family prayer time, conversations before bedtime or at meal times. Always show appreciation to your own parents and in-laws for all they have given and refrain from criticising or bad-mouthing elders in the family if you want your child to learn to be grateful to their family.
Happiness is not a result of comfortable circumstances. Happiness should come from within oneself. This lesson and attitude is one of the most important gifts a parent can give to their child and it can only come from practicing what you preach.