Parenting is one of the most rewarding and, at the same time, one of the most difficult jobs that an adult can have. Raising children is not a precise science (otherwise, we would not be having this discussion), as there are many variables, factors, as well as unprecedented and unforeseeable events that can shape a child into the adult that will stand before you one day.
But apart from the issue of raising a child well–as in a well-behaved, balanced, and responsible member of society–there is also another aspect that most of the time has absolutely nothing to do with abiding by social norms.
Many parents might be wondering how they can raise their child to be happy. But we’re not interested here on happiness in the general sense, as happiness can be extremely subjective. Most parents just want to provide their children with the tools and emotional strength to cope with day-to-day stresses and issues in a healthy fashion, while maintaining a good sense of self-worth.
This is a complicated issue, which we will try to tackle from all angles in this article. Here are a few tips for how to raise a happy child.
How to Raise a Happy Child
Make Sure Your Child Feels Valued and Loved
This seems almost like an understatement, but it is still worth mentioning for the sake of conversation. Every child, even before reaching emotional maturity, needs to feel like they are appreciated, that they belong, and are loved for what they are.
A child that feels loved, valued, respected, understood, and acknowledged has a high chance of becoming a stable adult that is capable of fostering relationships with peers and the community through the same means. Be generous with your hugs, provide the child with a sense of structure and security and, most importantly, exercise a lot of patience.
Lead by Example
Many studies have shown that parents have the most significant influence on a child’s moral and emotional development. Children listen, observe, and then attempt to replicate certain behavioral patterns because they have no other model. All parents have gone through the experience of having a private conversation with their spouse, and see the child revealing unsavory details in the most inopportune situations.
So, if children are ‘’wired’’ to do this, the least parents can do is trying to be the best version of themselves. Hopefully, what was initially only the result of innocent child repetition could turn into a positive personality trait once they reach adolescence and adulthood.
Allow Your Child to Succeed and Fail
If you want your child to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, focus less on praising them and focus more on providing them with the tools and opportunities to learn new and exciting skills. Mastering a particular skill, in place of empty praise, is what leads to them building a healthy amount of self-esteem. Fortunately, when it comes to children (especially toddlers), virtually every activity that they engage in is a chance to master new skills because everything they do is new, like feeding, dressing themselves, walking, crawling, riding a bicycle, building a sand castle, and so on.
But the problem here is that these activities, as exciting as they are, could prompt proud, admittedly well-intentioned parents to bombard their children with praises that lead to nothing constructive. Nobody is saying you should not celebrate the milestones, but it is better to take a step back and let children do their own thing.
Compliment your child’s effort, perseverance, and ambition rather than the achievement itself. Let them fail and feel disappointment as this process provides the child with the opportunity to learn more about seeking creative solutions, the courage to face problems, and tools to manage risk.
Chores Help Them Become Responsible
Generally speaking, happiness depends on the feeling that one does matter and is valued by their peers and family. What most of us fear is exclusion – and children more so than adults. Children, like all people, are instinctually driven to be needed, and the best way to make your child feel relevant and important to the family is by giving them real (albeit tightly supervised) responsibilities.
Children as young as 3 can carry out certain family chores – filling the dog’s food bowl, placing the napkins on the table, helping parents fold laundry, and many other tasks that are easy and appropriate for their age.
The Importance of Raising Happy Children
Happiness is a highly subjective concept, and as a parent, it is your duty to provide your children with the tools and emotional maturity to seek and achieve their own version of happiness. Lead by example and strive to be the best version of yourself. Make your child feel loved and appreciated and teach them that it is okay to fail and praise them for their mastery, not necessarily for the achievement itself.
These are only a few ways to ensure that your child will grow into a healthy, emotionally mature, and productive member of society. Of course, parenting is not easy as there are many variables to take into consideration. But with patience and care, the variables can be easily managed.