“Christmas is doing a little extra something for someone.”
Charles M. Schulz

It’s that time of year. Christmas is right around the corner, and then The New Year. Right now you may be trying to get in that last-minute shopping. Your son must have a Monster Truck, and your daughter must have the perfect doll. The mall is a madhouse and traffic is horrible. What you really want for Christmas is for your kids to get along and be happy.

You can actually have that. I’m here to tell you that it is within reach. Do you know what really makes your kids happy? I would really like you to take a minute to think about that. When your child was born, they were naturally happy. You just need to feed them, burp them and change their diapers. All of this involves touching them and making eye contact with them.

As time goes on, you begin to play with them. They love to have your attention. I know it’s not possible to always give them your full attention. They will need to learn how to self-soothe when you are not around. Here are 5 tips that will help your kids be happy throughout their life:

  1. Nobody is happy all the time. We have a range of feelings and they are constantly changing. You don’t want to raise your kids to believe they need to be happy all the time. This will cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. You need to teach them to ride it out. One way you can teach this is by modeling it for them. As a parent, you may want your child to think you are always happy. When is reality this isn’t possible. When you model to your child that you are not happy, this let’s them know it’s alright to not be happy all of the time. 
  2. Expect effort not perfection. It’s easy to get caught in this trap. Look at the neighbor’s kids, they always get an A in math. It’s alright if you kid gets a C in math. As long as they are trying their best, they are still passing. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Your kid doesn’t have to be like the neighbor’s kid. Make sure you let them know how much you like that they are putting all their effort into their math homework. This is good for their self-esteem. 
  3. Offer alternatives to your kids. We’ve all been there. You are at Target and you kid insists they must have a certain toy. Let them know they have a similar toy like that at home, and they can play with it when you get home. As adults we don’t always get what we want, and neither do kids. The more you offer them alternatives, the better they will be at finding an alternative on their own. 
  4. Make up with your kids. I know you worked hard at cleaning the house all day. As soon as your kid gets home the kitchen is a mess, again. It’s alright to let them know what they did and to clean it up. In other words, you aren’t the maid. But, when it’s over it’s important to let go and move on. It’s easy to say to your kid, ‘you always do this.’ Or, to remind them of all things they have done that they aren’t supposed to. This will only cause resentment. We all make mistakes. 
  5. And, lastly don’t lose yourself in your kids. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy stuff. Are lunches made, has the laundry been done, what’s for dinner, etc.? Don’t lose yourself in the process. What is your self-care like these days? When is the last time you took ten minutes for yourself? When you are happy your kids are happy. It’s actually been proven with science. Enjoy the small things, take a 30 minute nap, relax and breathe for 10 minutes, invite a friend out for a glass of wine. We just don’t do this often enough and this is what causes burn out.
These are lessons you can teach your kids, and they will remain with them. They want your time more than anything. It’s easy to get caught up in buying them things, these days. There is a lot of emphasis on material things. What they will remember most is the time you spent with them. Think back to your childhood. What do you remember most about your family?
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She loves working with children and helping them overcome the struggles that are presented to them. For more information, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com.

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