Childhood can be a magical time but in today’s hectic world, it’s easy to miss out on the nourishment that children need to thrive in adulthood. Here’s how you can help our future generation
Be happy yourself
It’s common knowledge that children form their personalities around the role models that they’re brought up with.
It therefore goes without saying that adult behaviour can have both a positive and a negative impact on a child, sometimes without us even being aware of it. There is plenty of scientific research to show that parents who suffer from traits such as depression can lead to negative outcomes in their children.
Focusing on making yourself happy will create a solid foundation for a happy childhood for your children. Creating a positive network in which they can thrive and grow will further their happiness. The sound of laughter has been proven to lower stress levels, caused by changes in the brain. Music in the home can also help lift parents’ moods, and their children’s as a result.
Teach them the importance of relationships
The importance of relationships is something that can be taught to children, and by doing so, it can help create empathy, understanding and better social and people skills.
Encouraging children to think from the perspective of others, and to perform acts of kindness, has been proven to make children happier in the long run. They are skills that will also help them in adult life.
Praise effort, not perfection
Perfectionism can harm children as they constantly aim to achieve the impossible.
Aim to praise effort, not natural ability. This in itself will encourage achievement, but will lesson the worry of them making mistakes along the way. Pressurising children to get things right first time and every time can lead to anxiety and even overload. Studies have shown that parents who place a high priority on achievement end up with children who are more depressed, more anxious, and in some cases, more rebellious, than those parents who focused more on praising effort.
The science behind it is quite simple – when we praise children for their effort rather than their abilities, we help them understand that their intelligence is changeable, and not a constant state.
Looking at the world from an optimist’s viewpoint is linked to happiness, and studies have shown that ten-year-olds who are encouraged to think optimistically have a 50% better chance of avoiding depression during puberty and adolescence.
Foster an attitude of gratitude in your children, and allow them to experience success and take moderate risks. Teaching them to put things in perspective can help create an optimistic mindset, something that they can reap the rewards from as they head into adult life.
Teach emotional intelligence
Children can struggle to understand their emotions, and this can often lead to outbursts and flashes of anger.
Talking to your child, and helping them understand why they are feeling the way they are can equip them with the ability to control their behaviour. Empathising with them, and validating them will also make them feel as if they’re being listened to.
Active listening will also encourage your child to interact with others in the same way, and emotional intelligence is directly linked to happiness.
The traditional act of eating together is sometimes lost in the fast-paced modern age.
It helps forge a sense of community, and often allows family members to feel able to talk more openly. One long-term study in Michigan showed that mealtimes were more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.
Self-discipline is something that we struggle with, even as adults, and as a result, we can feel out of control and down.
Instilling self-discipline in children will help them feel more confident in their abilities and foster a sense of independence. It will also develop their willpower, something that can often be a powerful skill later in life.
The more you can teach children self-discipline, the more resilient they will be in the future. In the same way that using a muscle makes it stronger, a more resolute willpower will help your child overcome obstacles that can’t be solved with intelligence alone.
As adults, we strive to make time for our own enjoyment – nights out, time with friends and even sports activities.
With our busy lives, we sometimes forget that playtime for children is their chance to grow and learn, especially their imagination. This is because the unstructured nature of spontaneous playtime helps them develop self-regulation, to work with others, and skills to resolve conflicts.
Expressing their creativity is one way of letting off steam, and can lead to better behaviour. Playtime can also help their physical development, and because it’s active and fun, they feel a lot happier because of it.