Parenting is hard. And ever so important. But sometimes, it feels like we need a special degree in “Managing Toddler Mood Swings” to navigate some of the unexpected scenarios that come with raising secure and happy children.
Like, how do we handle a child who likes to scream instead of talk? “Please, child, just lower your voice while we’re in Target.” Or what are we supposed to do when a child prefers to strip down every time we get them dressed or only eat foods that are the color blue?! (In case you’re wondering, there aren’t many blue foods.)
It can feel tricky and tiring to try and do it all right, and sometimes still feel like you’re at a loss. But the truth is, there’s never any way to make everything perfect. But there are things we can do that set our children up to feel secure and happy. And here are seven of my favorite tips.
7 Tips for Raising Secure and Happy Kids
1. Create a routine in the lives of your children.
It can often seem counter-intuitive, but children thrive on structure. Even children who seem to be resisting a schedule or routine at all costs tend to do better when they know what to expect from their life day in and day out. And yes, sometimes, parents, that means stopping the movie we are enjoying watching to put them to bed. But that routine will reap a great benefit in the long run. So find your routines and stick to them.
2. Set boundaries.
Raising secure and happy kids starts with boundaries. While it seems logical to give your kids what they want to make them happy, that is not the case. It’s the opposite. Sometimes saying no is another way of showing love.1 We often feel like we are being mean when we set a boundary. But our kids often respect us more for putting parameters on what they can and cannot do. Boundaries make them feel loved and secure.
3. Be clear and demonstrate expectations.
Kids respond best when you let them know what you expect of them before the moment you ask them to do something. If you want them to do the dishes and put their laundry away, ensure you are clear about when they are expected to do these things. It’s unfair to expect them to know how to clip their nails if you’ve never taught them how. The more they consistently know what is expected, the more they rise to the occasion and become responsible.
4. Use the phrase, “I am here to help.”
When your child is losing it, no matter their age, my favorite phrase is “I am here to help.” This lets them know that you are their safe place and that you desire to help them figure out a solution to their problem. It’s also a great reminder about who we want to be when they are struggling – a helper. Not someone that adds fuel to the fire.
5. Don’t react.
Kids who grow up in homes where their parents respond to them but don’t react learn emotional maturity more quickly than those who do not. Barking orders or yelling vents our frustration but doesn’t teach them what they are doing wrong. It also trains them that when they are flooded with emotions, it is appropriate to let them overflow instead of learning self-control.
6. Teach them about their emotions.
It’s important to talk with your children about their emotions. It’s also important they understand the difference between feeling happy and nervous. Or anxious and confused. Because the more they understand themselves, the better they can communicate their needs and wants. And when the day comes that they can verbalize their emotional state versus meltdown is a huge win in the emotional intelligence department.
7. Limit technology and let them be little.
Secure kids are allowed to grow their brains the good old-fashioned way: through play. Letting technology raise our children is easier, but it isn’t better. (But it takes self-discipline to limit it.) Because even small doses of technology can affect a child’s mood and behavior. But playing and using their imaginations is proven to do just the opposite. So make sure to create time and space for them to play with no electronics in sight.
Raising secure and happy children should be our ultimate goal as parents. It’s not always easy, but you will be off to a great start by implementing these seven tips. And ultimately, your kids will thank you for giving them the best start in life!