Raising a happy child in the age of electronics and work at home parents can hinder the way children are raised.
All my childhood friends often say to me, “I wish it were the 80’s, children were happier then.”
This got me thinking, were children happier then? And why would that be?
Is it because there were fewer electronics or the fact the neighborhood children played together from dawn till dusk?
I’m not too sure, but I had to dive into some research to find out what I need to focus on to raise happy kids myself, and I had to share my findings with you.
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*This information is for educational purposes only, if you need medical attention, please consult a physician.
What Makes a Child Happy?
We all want to raise well rounded little humans that grow up to be good contributors to society.
There are many things that we NEED to do, such as teach them life lessons and make sure they do well in school throughout the year.
Many times, we even schedule many activities for them to ensure they are staying active and engaged with others throughout the year.
But what about making sure the kids are happy?
Childhood is a short period in our lives, and I genuinely believe that having a happy childhood is key to raising a well-rounded adult.
6 Ways To Make A Child Happy
Create Strong Connections
Creating secure connections with your child is the number one secret to foster happiness within your child.
When children feel understood, wanted, acknowledged, they are happy because their emotional well being and the need for connection is fulfilled.
We all have a deep desire for connection, and it’s merely no different for children.
Loving your child with your whole heart and being there for all those critical moments of their lives is what ultimately helps children be happy.
Through teenage years to early adulthood, kids will naturally push their parents away, but parents need to continue to foster that connection through the hardest times of a child’s life.
It’s the quality of connection, not the quantity of connection that really counts too.
Something as simple as a snuggle on the couch and a conversation during supper time can create a stronger connection than a scheduled bike ride together at the park.
The connection doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be there all the time.
You Can’t Force happiness
I know you’re here to find out how to make children happy, and while there are plenty of things you can do to foster happiness in your child, you can’t force it.
Creating a happy child isn’t about giving them everything they desire in life. It is about being there to teach them how to survive in the real world, and that means letting them feel their feelings.
My favourite parenting book of all time is “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen,” and the whole book focuses on allowing children to feel their emotions.
Children have all kinds of feelings, and it can be challenging to understand those feelings and make sense of how to act on their beliefs.
It is essential to encourage kids to feel their feelings and talk to you about them so they can learn to grow to adequately express their emotions in all of the various relationships they will encounter later in life.
Giving children the freedom to feel what they feel allows them to learn to express those feelings appropriately.
All human beings are full of emotion, and children are no different.
It’s important to remember that swooping in to rescue your child from experiencing other emotions besides happiness is not productive in raising emotionally well-balanced children.
Teaching your child how to bounce back from experiences will help you raise a resilient child.
Nurture Your Happiness
We can certainly be responsible for our happiness, and looking after our emotional well being will help foster happiness in children.
Children are like little sponges, and they absorb everything that we do, which is why our moods matter.
Happy parents often have happy kids, and depressed children often have parents who suffer from depression.
Make sure you take time for self-care because if you don’t put your mask on first, you won’t be able to assist others.
Celebrate all the accomplishments from getting the ball into the net in a backyard game of basketball to getting a B on that science test that they worked so hard for.
Making sure to celebrate all the wins, big and small, will most definitely help raise a happy child.
When you celebrate accomplishments, it helps raise self-esteem, and high self-confidence and happiness are closely linked.
When we celebrate accomplishments, we have to be careful not to overpraise our children.
It is dangerous to overpraise children because if children feel that if they cannot succeed, they can fall off the pedestal, and the love from mom and dad will be gone forever.
How can such a positive thing like praise, have such a negative effect on a child?
Children who grow up being praised for being pretty, and when they do not feel so pretty later on in life, will often spend a lot more cash on lotions and masks just to feel more beautiful.
Additionally, children who are praised for being so smart can develop low self-esteem when studies get more challenging to keep up with, and grades start to slip.
The best thing to do to avoid overpraising our children is to redirect our praise.
Praising the hard work rather than the end result.
Allow for Success and Failure
Just like raising a child’s self-esteem, raising a happy child entails focusing less on compliments and more on providing opportunities for growth.
Making sure to be careful not to do too much for your child and allowing them to learn and make mistakes on their own is a great way to foster that higher self-esteem.
Children do need to struggle a little bit to master a new skill.
Getting always “bailed out” of tough situations teaches children that they don’t really need to know essential skills because the parents will always be there to save them.
Having that kind of dependency on parents is not right, and I’m sure you can see why.
Give Real Responsibilities
When we feel valued, we are happier, and the same goes for children.
Providing opportunities for children to have responsibilities will help them feel like they are needed, and feel needed and valued is what makes kids happy.
People, in general, want to feel needed, and the more you can help your child make family contributions starting at an early age, the more sense of self-worth and happiness your child will experience.
Additional Techniques To Make Your Child Happy
Simple traditions such as daily family dinners and weekly family game nights are often great ways to foster great connections and generate happiness within the family.
Having traditions helps children feel safe and secure because they sort of like family routines, just not daily.
Sometimes a great way to change the mood in the household is by singing (and dancing too.)
Make sure to get silly and sing song from children s variety to oldies and everything in between.
Watch What You Say
Be respectful when talking to your child. Children do not understand sarcasm and using sarcasm with young minds can do more harm and damage than cause humor.
Participate In School Events
When you participate in your child’s school and community events you are signaling to your little one that what they do is important, therefore making them feel important too.
Encourage your child’s passions
Whatever activity your little one may be interested in, make sure to foster that passion.
Encourage your child to join the basketball team if they have a passion for basketball, or sign them up for an art class if the passion is art.
Enjoying and appreciating mother nature naturally makes me a happier Momma, don’t you agree?
Go outside daily and take a break from all the technology in your life.
Live in a cold environment? That’s ok! Cold air is good for kids too, it actually boosts their immune system.
Tidy The House
What the heck do happy kids and a tidy house have in common?
Well children who grow up in mess and chaos are not likely to feel comfortable enough to invite their friends over and that can hinder their happiness.
You don’t need to be cleaning like a mad person on a daily basis, but keeping things neat and tidy can encourage your child to be happier in the home environment because they will naturally be more comfortable.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m eating too many hamburgers and not enough salad to balance out my diet, I just don’t feel the best.
Children are the same way.
Provide your children with fresh produce and less sugar pre packaged foods.
In general it’s a good idea to keep a blanced diet for everyone in the home, but the children are the most important.
Creating healthy eating habits at the early stages of life will help keep your child choose healthier food options as they grow.
Another great way to foster happiness in your children is to show a lot of affection.
This includes hugs, kisses, tickles, and back rubs.
Getting close and personal with your little one creates that strong connection that is oh so important when it comes down to raising happy kids.
A Little Story Of A Difficult Moment
Most school mornings in our home are organized and calm, read more about our morning routine here if you need some guidance.
However, there are a few mornings a year where my child wakes up grumpy, still tired, and just plain miserable. When that kind of mood strikes the house, there will be some power struggles, difficult moments, and even a little bit of yelling from all parties (hey I’m not perfect, but I try).
This one particular morning, my 5-year-old woke up super early and for some reason thought it was Saturday (it was a Tuesday) and proceeded to play video games (only allowed on weekends).
Of course, the sound of video games on a Tuesday morning woke me up I get out of bed (at 4 am 🙁 ) and proceed to take away video games and order my son back to bed. Not a calm mom moment in the slightest.
Reluctantly he did go back to bed, but it was time to wake up by 6:45, so there was not much more time to settle back to bed before waking up again. Naturally, I had a very cranky child who I needed to get off to school for 8 am.
There was arguing over EVERYTHING that day. The colour of the cup was wrong, the toothpaste was too “globby”, and worst of all, getting dressed was too much work.
I knew I needed to do something to set this day on a better course.
I went to his room and closed to door to keep out the rest of the family and I looked at him and said: “it’s ok to be upset this morning, you got a little confused and frankly mommy hasn’t been in the best mood since you woke up at 4 in the morning.” And then proceeded to give him a big bear hug.
Science Behind Hugs
Hugs Keep Kids Healthy
During a hug, the hormone Oxytocin is released. This hormone strengthens immune systems, therefore keeping your child healthy through the simple act of a hug.
Hugs Create Smarter Kids
science indicated that children need to have their senses stimulated in order to develop properly. The touch of a hug helps grow healthy and strong brains.
Studies also show that not all types of touch are beneficial for growth, only the gentle and nurturing touches such as hugs create a positive impact on brain development.
Basically: Cuddles are magic.
Hugs Help Kids Grow
The act of hugging releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. This love hormone is spread through the body and helps stimulate growth within children. It also helps you bond emotionally during this simple physical act.
Hugs Can Stop Temper Tantrums
I am all about raising kids with gentle and positive parenting. Though a tantrum can trigger an angry response from a parent, providing isolation and resentment towards your child in such a difficult moment can damage your relationship and their development.
One of the best ways to stop a tantrum is through a big hug.
Hugs Can Help Kids Learn To Self- Regulate
Self-regulation is the power to regulate own emotions when triggered by something that would normally cause a reaction.
When children are offered a hug, they also learn how to regulate their emotions, especially if you communicate with them about the situation and how it was handled.
It’s really just a power that a positive touch has on children. It can melt away the stress that a child feels in a tough situation, which is why they were probably throwing that tantrum in the first place.
Hugs Help Create Bonds
When you hug your little one, especially in a difficult moment, you have a moment that creates a stronger bond each time you hug.
When you hug your child, you reassure them that they can trust you to always be there for them and provides that mental security that children need.