We all want our children to be happy. To see them smile is usually the best part of our day. Even though some traits come from genes, some could be inculcated through habits and activities. Kids, who practice positivity as a habit, grow up into adults who know how to create their happiness.
Like a Chinese proverb goes - "Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime." Don't make your children happy; teach them to create their own happiness.
Here are some of the ways you could create a breeding ground for happiness and positivity for your children.
Don't grant their every wish That’s right; don’t try to make them happy by doing everything they say. It will not only make the child think they have power over you, but also make them feel entitled. They grow up to find it difficult to deal with a day that doesn’t run on their whims. So teach them how to get the things they want. Teach them negotiation and compromise.
Being ready to donate a toy when they want a new one.
Finish their tasks before taking out the PlayStation
Earn their pocket money
Create a connection Nothing could be more positive for your child than to have an intimate and positive relationship with you. A connection exists between the child and his/her parents since birth, which should be fostered and cared for. As a child grows, the relationship needs conscious acts to love and care to become stronger. Knowledge that someone cares for them and are looking out for them makes them secure and encourages them to be brave.
Spend quality time together Spend time with your kids where you learn about each other, through which you can forge a bond.
People who have gone through the same things, usually form bonds by sharing their stories. Tell your children stories about your childhood; of the days when you were the same age as them. See the fascination and the spark of imagination evident on the child's face as they capture the story in their mind's eye. It builds a sense of camaraderie and trust. That right there, is a bond being created.
Similarly you could spend time with them reading books or just talking about things in general. Talk about their school, their friends and their life.
You could also spend time doing activities that the kids like. Teach them something new that they might enjoy. Bring out the board games. Go for a bush-walk. Teach them cool tricks you used to do as a kid.
Don't refuse their help As kids learn that they are capable of doing things that you do, it makes them feel grown up. They take a sense of pride in this ability. Let them help you around the house. Let them help you fold the laundry, to put things away, to load the dishwasher or to make the bed. Their inclination to learn and help you is them reaching out to you. So teach them how to do it right, instead of getting frustrated that the task is taking twice the time. Think of this as an opportunity to share your time with them.
Of course, the downside of this would be all the kids taking over the task and making a huge mess. So use your judgement and tell them what exactly they could do to help you.
Communicate, don't command Communication is of absolute importance for any relationship to prosper. Speak ‘with’ and not ‘to’ the child. Communicating means being understood, not just heard. Through how you communicate with your child, you are teaching them how they should communicate with others.
Don't shout Shouting and screaming at children can be detrimental to their mental health. Over time, it could create a sense of fear and at times self-doubt. Not only does shouting not get the point across as you intend it to, but it also carries across a wrong message. As much as it sometimes is tempting to just have a go, know that they are still learning how to handle a lot of things. Also know that you could be teaching them by example, by letting your own emotions out through shouting.
Apologise We all make mistakes. Being a grown up doesn’t exempt you from one. So when you do something that you shouldn’t have, like shouting at your children (for no fault of theirs), it makes complete sense to kneel down to their level and apologise. And mean it when you say sorry. Be sure to provide them with an explanation and not an excuse for your behaviour.
Apologising not only puts you both back on the same page, it also assures the child that you are not above them. That mistake is mistake, no matter who makes it. It also helps end the situation on a positive note. And that is a valuable lesson - make amends while you still can.
Thank them You feel good when someone thanks you for your help. And so will your children. Make a habit of thanking your children when they respect your request and/or help you. It just makes them more positive towards life and helping others.
Seeing positive side of things It is a life skill to be able to see something positive in every situation of life. Teaching your kids to have a perspective from which they can figure out how to turn things around, is extremely valuable and can help carry them through rough patches of life.
Handling failure and rejection Failure and rejection can bring anyone down; anyone who is not ready for them. They have the power to break motivation and breed fear, if we give them that power.
It is disappointing to see your child being rejected. It could be another child refusing to play/share or an adult rejecting their friendly advances. But it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the negative effect it has on your child. Other than just consoling the disheartened child, you should also reassure that it would be alright. Appreciate the child for putting in the effort. Tell them that you believe in them. Give them other viable options. Distract them and get them to do something they feel happy doing, so it gets back their mojo.
It is particularly important to teach the child not to channel their disappointment/sadness through anger and destruction. It is particularly true in older kids.
Foster healthy competition In today’s world, competition is everywhere. It is very natural for your kids to feel competitive towards each other and/or other kids. Competition is good in a way that makes children just go for it. They put in a lot more effort when they realise that there is a prize to be won.
While competing is important, the attitude with which they compete is more important. If you see them wishing others unwell so they can win, that is cue for you to step in and correct them. They should be concentrating on their own efforts towards winning and not on sabotaging others’.
Loving themselves Even though you encourage them to compete with others, you should also teach them to love themselves. They don't have to fit into a certain mould. They don't have to try to make others happy at the cost of their own happiness.
The more accepting you are of their quirks and uniqueness, the more they would learn to see that it is okay to be themselves.
Be happy and positive You can’t teach your children to be happy and positive if you are not. Children learn a lot from the way you see yourself and how you handle situations in your life.
Practice mindfulness and cultivate the aforementioned habits. Teach by example and be conscious of things you do and say. Keep your mind in a state of calm. Do things that are important for your self development. Have a healthy self respect and self esteem. Practice kindness and compassion.
Wake up and bring everyday in with a smile. Make a habit of telling you love them through the day. Have a healthy positive relationship with your partner.
Note: Even though this article is aimed at mothers, it is true for all parents.