“One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, is to have a happy childhood,” said Agatha Christie. And this is not far from the truth. In fact, if there is one thing that you will remember your whole life (even when you get very old and forgetful), it’s your childhood memories.
So, it’s very important that your children have good childhood memories that they will cherish and build upon throughout the rest of their lives. Just as your child is a blessing in your life, so can you be their blessing as the wonderful parent you can be.
There is a middle ground between being lenient and being strict and achieving this middle ground is natural, as it doesn’t require a lot of thought in either of the polar opposites.
Here are 8 things that can make your child feel happier and more complete.
Play is in children’s nature and it’s at its highest potential during childhood. We somehow learn ourselves out of this wonderful habit, but that doesn’t mean that we should teach our children out of it.
As Peter Gray, a child psychologist at Boston College states.”Children learn the most important lessons in life from other children, not from adults… they cannot learn, or are much less likely to learn in interactions with adults.”
2. GIVE THEM A SENSE OF (INDIVIDUAL) RESPONSIBILITY
Parents often think that children are not capable of taking on a responsibility and sticking to it. Of course, these parents forget that even though they are young, their children are also little humans who want to take on the challenge of individual responsibility.
According to child psychologists, an excessive amount of oversight can manifest into the child developing an “I can’t do this alone” attitude. The sense of responsibility teaches them to take matters into their own hands and use their creativity to tackle and overcome the obstacles.
So, why not give them some chores they can do, and teach them about the responsibility they have for them?
3. ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR EFFORTS
The effort outweighs the outcome – because, without effort, there can be no outcome. So, instead of focusing on how things turned out to be, focus on how much effort they have put into it and acknowledge it.
You need to praise effort and you shouldn’t put the pressure of ‘achievement’ onto your child. This way, they will always manage to achieve everything through persistence and commitment – and this is what effort is about.
4. LET THEM TAKE CHANCES.
Taking chances means learning to overcome any obstacle, so this experience is very much needed for every child. You need to let your kid experience risk, learn to cope and acquire resilience and maturity along the way.
Monitoring every one of your child’s moves and correcting each of their mistakes before they’re able to understand the lesson from them will turn them into incomplete individuals who aren’t able to face the world.
Don’t forget that your children are little humans capable of so much more than you’re ready to accept.
5. DON’T COMPARE THEM TO OTHERS.
No two people in the world are the same, and everybody comes with their own qualities. As Einstein said, “you can’t teach a fish to climb a tree, so why compare it to the monkey?” Breeding a sense of competitiveness and ambition is one thing but comparing your child to other children is utterly wrong.
Nurture their confidence and self-esteem; don’t destroy it by praising other children’s successes in comparison to those of your children. As mentioned above, focus on their effort and encourage them to focus on effort instead of what the outcome will turn out to be. AND NEVER COMPARE THEIR OUTCOMES TO THOSE OF OTHERS!
6. TEACH THEM THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERY EMOTION
It’s not true that ‘boys don’t cry’ or any other similar stereotypical notions about emotions. Every emotion is important and you need to acknowledge their emotions and teach them to accept them, as a part of them.
Recognizing and accepting one’s emotions lead to an increased emotional intelligence and to developing better coping mechanisms. The most important thing you need to teach your child is that emotions are important and that they shouldn’t be ashamed of any emotion that comes to them.
7. BE HAPPY YOURSELF
Children are affected by their parents’ emotional state and they not only empathise but also develop a darker perception of reality if they see that any of their parents is in a bad state. So, parents need to work on themselves and show their child that it’s possible to be happy.
Of course, negative emotions will arise and you may even find yourself unable to control your tears in front of your child at times, but don’t forget the previous tip: emotions are OK, and they should be accepted. You can,in fact, use this moment to teach them that nobody can be happy all the time.
This, however, doesn’t exclude the need to dedicate some time for yourself and try to live a happier life.
8. GIVE THEM EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS
Gifting your child with the latest gadgets and toys is an easy thing to do, but it’s also one of the worst lessons you can teach your child. Things come with a price and experiences come with a value, making the latter, a lot more important.
Experiences affect so many aspects of your perception in a positive way and you can generate so many happy memories from them. And you can also learn valuable lessons from these experiences – so it’s a win-win!
And such experiences don’t require a lot of money – even a fun trip to the ice-cream parlour is something your child will appreciate more than being showered with material gifts they will quickly grow out of and forget.
This article has been written by Mary Wright and first appeared in “The Power of Silence”.
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