Happiest Kid on the Block

Written by Amy Gaerlan. Posted in Family + Parenting

10 steps to helping your kids have a happier future.

Don't expect perfection – regardless of if your child is 5 or 15 years old you need to remember no one is perfect all the time and it is not the end of the world if they mess up

We all want the same the same thing for our children. To be healthy and happy. What makes a child happy and how much control do we have over it? Happiness means that your child feels respected, valued, safe, and loved.

There is not just one way to raise a child because they are all individuals; raising a cheerful, content child is not a walk in a park (though that certainly helps get some smiles out of most children!) Here's a few quick tips that might help brighten your children's happiness and self-esteem.

  1. Get physical and stay healthy! Get down on all fours if you have to. When you go to the park, get off your bottom and move with your kids! You might consider it a little break, but your children will cherish the one on one playtime if you get moving with them. Your child will also feel confident and loved that you think they're important enough to play with.

    Teach your child healthy food habits. Junk food isn't good for energy, and will probably make you and your child feel sluggish and crabby later in the day. Enjoy healthy snacks with your child by being an example. If they do not like it the first time, be consistent and offer it again.

  2. Don't plan every minute of the day. If you think you are exhausted after a day of running errands, imagine the toll on your child.   Find a way to be flexible.

  3. Teach your child how to relax. After a long day of work or school, you and your child probably need to unwind.  Some children do not know how to relax, especially if they never see you take a breath.  Cuddle up with your toddler and read a book together, play in a bubble bath, or just kick back and watch the clouds.

  4. Laugh!  Be silly with your kids and join in the fun.  Create happy memories to help strengthen your bond.  Get down and 'giggly' by making silly faces together, and whatever else your kiddo has in store for you.

  5. Remember to take the time to praise your child. It is easy to fall into the trap of reminding them what not to do. Acknowledging the accomplishments will help reinforce good behavior in your child. Be careful of creating high expectations. Don't expect perfection – regardless of if your child is 5 or 15 years old you need to remember no one is perfect all the time and it is not the end of the world if they mess up.

  6. Nurture your child's self-expression and independence. Give him plenty of opportunities to express himself through music, sports, art, or whatever he's interested in.  If you are not interested in coloring with your child, that's OK, but take the time to encourage his interests.  Praise his newest drawing, or cheer on your daughter's sports team.

  7. Listen to your child. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to talk to someone who is only half listening to you.  Make eye contact, turn off the TV, and show your child that they are important enough to listen to.  This is especially important as your children get older.  They need to know and trust that you will listen and respect their ideas and opinions.

  8. Be consistent. If your rules vary day to day, your child will most likely be unpredictable as well.  Explain your rules and decisions.  Take a breath and try not to over explain to your adolescent.  What might be obvious to you may not be so obvious to a 12 year old – let alone a 2 year old.

  9. Treat your child with respect. The best way to get your child to respect you is to be respectful to them.  If you want to hear “please,” be sure to use it yourself when asking them for something.

  10. Allow for both success and failure. It is easy to want to protect our children from failure, but we cannot always plan on being there. Give them responsibilities and acknowledge their contribution to the family. If they mess something up, don't make a big deal about it, but help show them how they can succeed next time.

One thing a lot of parents forget about is nurturing their own happiness. We cannot control our children's happiness all the time, but we are responsible for our own. Happy parents are likely to have happier children. Being relaxed and less stressed will give you more energy to focus on your children and you will be less stressed so you can enjoy your time together. By being a good role model and remembering your own health and happiness, your children will most likely follow in your footsteps.