What does it take to make a child happy?
Not much – say experts.
Children are born with an intense desire to be happy and to make others around them happy.
When your child was a baby – I am sure you remember how easy it was to make your baby laugh. All you needed to do was pick up your baby’s hands and clap them together – and he/she would erupt with laughter. If you smiled and laughed at the clapping – your baby would laugh more. And if you made a funny face the laughter would go on forever.
Here is what Happiness coach and author of the book “Happiness ki khoj” Rachana Gupta has to say about children and why they are happy.
“Children don’t need to be taught how to be happy, their default setting is to be happy.”
So how does this default happiness setting turn into unhappiness?
Why are children unhappy?
Children are programmed to be happy – but they slowly become unhappy when we do the following things –
- We load them with our expectations – So are expectations bad? No. we must always expect the best from our children. But it is crucial not to be rigid and unforgiving in deciding what that best is.
- We compare – Comparisons with other children is almost a parenting style. We constantly compare our children with other children. Our intention is not to make them unhappy. Rather we want to motivate them to excel so that they can be happy later – when they accomplish what we want them to accomplish. But that makes children unhappy in the present moment. Because they realise that they are not what their parents want them to be.
- We teach our children to fear failure – Children have no idea what failure is until we tell them that they have failed. A baby who falls does not know that falling is failure to walk. The baby considers every fall a chance to try again. It is only when we start measuring children by external standards or when we begin to compare them with others – that they understand that they have failed. And they begin to fear failure. Fear of failure then makes everything they do – a source of stress
Also read Teach your child not to fear failure
We are constantly unhappy with who we are.
We have decided we will be happy when all our expectations are met and all our needs have been satisfied.
We are convinced that the grass is greener on the other side and our habit of comparing ourselves with others makes sure we are never satisfied.
And we are so worried about what others will say – we focus so much on results – that we can never enjoy what we are doing.
And because we are so unhappy – our children are unhappy too
Happiness strategist and laughter coach Ms Suchi Deshpande hands out a simple strategy for family happiness with this very profound statement –
“The first step to happier kids is to get yourself happy”.
And it is true. All that children really need to be happy is – a happy parent
Mompreneur Sangeeta Mahajan who is also actively involved in social service and blogs at www.gettingeasy.com – summarizes how easy it is to make children happy.
“I laugh, I cry, I eat junkies I play I watch cartoons I sing out of tune to make my kids happy. I am the person I want my child to be”
So what can you do to make your child happy? Here are 4 simple things to follow
4 things you can do to make your child happy
- Enjoy imperfection Life is not perfect – people are not perfect – situations are not perfect. If we teach children to wait for things to be perfect to be happy – then it will be impossible for them to happy. Laugh at imperfections with your child. Deliberately do things the wrong way – put toothpaste on the wrong side of the brush, balance a shoe on your head or sing out of tune. Your imperfections give your child the freedom to be imperfect. A child who strives for perfection all the time is sure to be unhappy. Teach your child to laugh at his/her mistakes
- Connect with your child In life – the greatest stress comes from loneliness. From feeling alone and disconnected. Many a times – we are so busy trying to make our children happy by doing big things like – buying a bigger car – or booking a foreign vacation – that we forget that true joy lies in the connections that we make with our children multiple times during the day. However busy or preoccupied you may be – when you look at your child – smile. As you pass by give your child a hug for no reason. Show your child that you are happy because he/she is around. Children need to constantly be reassured of your approval and love.
- Allow your child to do things Many a times we think that we can make children happy by doing everything for them. What we do not realize is – that true joy comes from doing things for yourself and feeling capable. And from doing things for others and feeling needed. Allow children to do things for themselves – and for others
- Help your child to make friends In today’s day and age – it is time-consuming and at times very inconvenient for us when our children have friends. Having friends leads to fights that have to be resolved, tears that must be wiped and hours that must be spent supervising their play. But children need friends to be happy. Friends make children feel important and give them a sense of belonging. And that makes them happy. Give your child the courage to reach out and connect with other children. Teach your child how to get along with other children and be large-hearted and kind.
Happiness is not a destination that we need to take our children to.
Happiness is here and now.
We don’t need to make our children happy.
Our children can teach us all about happiness if only we are willing to learn.
Also read What can I do to make my child happy