You want your child to be happy. Now, we know the definition of happiness varies. It’s easy to define happiness by how much money or material things you have. I always say, you can’t define happiness by your bank account. But, society tells us something different.
You need a new car or those new jeans. I have found that what children want most is your time. Maybe it’s cliche, but you really can’t buy love. After working with children in my practice for 14 years. I have found that the root of anxiety in a child, often comes from their relationship with their parents. There is actually a lot of research out there to back that up.
Here are 6 tips for raising a happy child:
- Add positive affirmations to your daily routine. Remember, your child is trying to find his/her place in this world. You know this is not easy. Many adults are still trying to find their place, as well. Affirm the positive choices your child makes. This is how they learn to navigate in the world they live in. You can do this with words or body language. A simple smile will let them know that you approve of their choices. Be open to your child’s ideas and let them try new things. Children love to think out loud. Make sure to support this. It will help with creativity.
- Relish the “Mess” together. I will admit this is a hard one for me. But, you miss moments of joy with your child when you worry too much about the mess. Ten years from now the mess won’t matter. They grow up so quickly, you really don’t want to miss out. Stop worrying about what your family and friends will think. What’s important is what your child thinks, and that you have an emotional connection with them. When they grow up they won’t remember the mess, they will remember you.
- Touch your child. As a society, we are getting away from touch. This is how we connect as human beings. Hold your baby. Don’t buy into letting them cry it out. This will make your child feel alone and insecure. As they get older dance and play with your children. This is what they will remember most.
- Sing to your child. They love to hear your voice. Don’t worry about how you sound, just sing. You can sing your child’s name or favorite song. I love to watch how their eyes light up when you sing to them. When children are young they will naturally hum a song. The next time your child does this, sing along with them. This is a great way to connect with your child.
- Cultivate a culture of gratitude. Identify what you are grateful for, however small it may seem. This will help foster an attitude of gratefulness in the family. Your child learns from what you do and say. When you foster an attitude of gratefulness, it helps create compassion and hope. Keep a gratefulness chart on the refrigerator, with some fun markers. Make it easy for your child to reach. This way they write or draw on it when they feel grateful, and everyone can see it.
- Explore the world together. Take time each week to learn something new with your child. Take a cooking class with your child, or a dance class. Don’t worry about how you look. This will help level the playing field. Your child will see that you have the same struggles that they have. Your child will also be able to relate to you, and see that you have struggles and triumphs in life. It will also let your child know, that they don’t have to be perfect.
Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t done these things. Remember, all good parents make mistakes. And, it’s never too late to start with just one of these things today. Embrace the time you have with your child. It’ll be gone before you know it.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, in San Mateo, CA. She is dedicated to helping children through the growing pains of life. For a free 15-minute phone consultation or more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or Lianne@LessonsforLove.com.