We all want the same things for our children. We want them to grow up to be happy and healthy adults. They are actually only your children for a short time. As we all know, the time flies by. So, make the most of it while you can.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give your child everything they want, or everything you didn’t have while growing up. Your child needs you the most, whether they want to admit it or not. The best thing you can do is spend time with them. Here are seven secrets that you must read:

  1. Learn to say no. In the short term this will not make them happy, but it the long run it will pay off. They don’t have to be happy all the time. I’m sure while you were growing up your parents said no, and now you can see why. This will also help them set boundaries for themselves. When children don’t hear the word no, they don’t learn to say the word no.
  2. Make sure they feel heard. Listening is one of the best things you can do for your child. They can tell when you aren’t listening. For example, when you are watching T.V. or talking/texting on the phone. When a child feels like you are truly listening, they feel loved. Make sure to turn off all electronic gadgets when they are talking. Set aside some time each day to listen to how their day went. Make sure to make appropriate eye contact and give positive feedback.
  3. Let them make choices. Children are always being told what to do. This makes them feel like they can never make a choice for themselves. Try and let you child decide what to eat, or have for dinner (within reason). Let them pick out their clothes for school, even if it’s not what you would choose. Give them options for activities. For example, let them decide if they would like to go to the park after school or watch a movie at home. This will help your child feel empowered and build confidence.
  4. Let them express their emotions. Children need to get their emotions out. Whether, it is yelling, crying, stomping their feet or laughing. They can’t be expected to keep it all in. If you don’t learn to express your emotions, it will come out in other ways. Like, health problems or anxiety and depression. When you let your child express their emotions, this let’s them know that you love them unconditionally. As long as they express their emotion in healthy ways and don’t hurt anyone, it’s alright.
  5. Free play. Let your child have unstructured play time. This will help them with their imagination, and to relieve stress and simply be children. Today many children are so over scheduled. Which makes the idea of free play time seem impossible. Try to resist the urge to sign your child up for every activity that comes along. This can actually create stress and anxiety for your child. Next weekend, leave it unstructured and enjoy the time.
  6. Eating on time and healthy meals. Recent studies have shown that a high sugar diet can contribute to diabetes and ADHD. If they go to long without eating this can fluctuate blood sugar levels. This can also lead to unnecessary irritability. Food is fuel for the body. It’s also important to make the fuel count. This means eating nutrient rich foods like lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Remember, to eat the color of the rainbow. You can sneak vegetables easily in meals.
  7. Be happy yourself. It’s really true, you can’t take care of anyone else unless you are taking care of yourself. What is your self care like? Lot’s of times when I ask people this question, they look at me like they don’t know what I am talking about. Schedule time for yourself everyday. Even if it’s just five minutes of deep breathing or meditation. Take a bubble bath, go for a walk on the beach or get a massage. This will help make you feel good which will make you happy. When you are stressed out and unhappy, your child will sense it. You really are their role model. So, start practicing good self care today.

We are what we think. Stop listening to your brain when it is telling you lies. Also, don’t overbook yourself and make sure to get plenty of rest. Happiness in contagious. If you are happy, then it will rub off on your child.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She can help you and your family regain happiness in your life. If you’re looking for help with your children and family in the San Mateo area, please call (650) 892-0357.

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