Am I raising a happy child? This is a question that every parent will ask themselves. The pursuit of happiness cannot always be stripped down into a few simple words — however there are certain things that every family can incorporate into their everyday lives, to ensure that their children grow up in a happier and more positive environment.
The good news is that there are simple, yet effective pointers that need not interfere with your parenting style, but could lead to some positive results.
Create a warm and safe environment
Babies are like sponges, they are constantly absorbing everything around them. Therefore, it is important to create and maintain a warm and calm environment in which baby feels safe. The best way to do this is to build a solid foundation of love and support from day one.
Studies have suggested that feeling connected and understood by family are important contributing factors in a child’s happiness. As a parent, you can build and strengthen that connection by providing constant reassurance and love. Spend quality time together, be affectionate and shower your baby with cuddles, kisses and other physical acts of affection. Sympathize with your baby, and respond to his needs.
All these acts will develop the bond between you and your baby and will build your connection to each other. Also, by doing this you will provide reassurance to baby that he is in a safe environment and that his physical, emotional and mental needs are being met.
As baby grows and learns, he will start to explore his personality and talents, which are key factors needed to developing important life skills. Many experts have said parents should provide a comfortable environment for baby to satisfy his natural curiosity. There are many ways in which this can be achieved, such as allowing the freedom for your child to express his emotions and to be there to help him process and understand what he is feeling and why.
Providing praise and positive re-enforcement are also powerful tools in developing self esteem, which is directly linked to happiness. However, experts have warned parents to be careful of boxing their children in and also placing pressure on them to perform. There is a definite thin line here, but a good place to begin is to focus your praise on efforts rather than results. Also, encourage your child to explore various activities, and be wary of focusing all your attention onto one specific aspect such as your child’s looks.
Lead by example
Children are receptive to their surroundings — this is why it is important for parents to lead by example. Be attentive to your own happiness and wellbeing as well. Take some time out to do things that make you happy even if it is just reading a book in the park or going out for a quick cup of coffee at your favourite café.
By working on your own happiness, you are doing a world of good for your family. By constantly neglecting your own happiness, one is more likely to become angry, frustrated and resentful. This will create a negative environment for your child. Also, leading by example teaches your child the importance of self love and taking control of their own happiness.
Don’t neglect your partner
The dynamics of a relationship will inevitably shift when baby comes along. However, it is important for couples not to neglect their relationship during this crucial time. This may be easier said than done, however making an effort now could go a long way in preserving a happy relationship in years to come.
Experts have pointed out that, if your relationship is strong and stable, so is your home environment. And, as you lead by example, baby will learn firsthand from his parents how to function and react in a happy and healthy relationship.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle
Parents can encourage their children from young to lead a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle. Experts have linked physical wellbeing to emotional wellbeing, so it makes sense for the whole family to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Be wary of pressuring your child into making this choice. Instead make small dietary changes for the whole family and think of fun ways for everyone to be more active.
You could all go down to the park for a game of cricket or soccer. Parents of younger children could make it a point to take regular walks outside or why not invest in a jogging pram and take baby along on your next run? The earlier a child can learn these habits, the easier it will be to maintain.
C’mon negative nelly!
After a long day, it is easy to come home and complain about anything and everything. Sometimes it feels so good to vent. However, be careful that you are not sliding into a rut of negativity as this could have an effect on your child.
Truly listen to the words coming out of your mouth, and pay attention to how you are phrasing your sentences.
Do you criticize more than you compliment? Do you nag without realizing it? Make an effort to be more positive, especially around your children. And…
Don’t forget gratitude
Remember when The Secret came out? Everyone was fixated on the rules of attraction and putting to practice the act of gratitude. Whether you believe this theory or not, do not underestimate just how powerful gratitude can be.
By making an effort to be thankful for all the things in life that you do have, you are automatically teaching yourself to see the positives rather than focusing on all the little things going wrong, or the things you do not have.
It is not always easy to automatically move into a place of gratitude when work, finances and other daily stresses come up. However, teaching this skill to a young child will go a long way in developing his positive outlook on life.
So, rather than complain about all the things that went wrong during your day, work instead on choosing to focus on all the things that are going right. Spend a few minutes every day with the family and list the things to be grateful for.