5 Secrets to Raising Happy Kids
Being parents is a joy in itself. But what about parenting and particularly parenting preschoolers?
Parenting these tiny minds can be difficult sometimes. And indeed there is no reason to feel guilty about this. It is only human that while all of us want our children to grow up happy, confident and disciplined there come moments this seems an impossibly daunting task. In a fit of a second children might push their friend, throw away their toys and storm out of the room. The happy child might surprisingly start behaving irritable in a get-together. One fine morning the preschool teacher might call up to inform that the child has not been paying attention in class, remains absolutely silent and resorts to sudden bursts of sobbing. And in each of these occasions—like in many similar ones—you are left wondering : “What could be the reason?”
The reason lies in the paradox that these preschool years are. Now they are no longer too young to be absolutely ignorant of the world around them, nor big enough to understand completely what is going about them. This is the formative age when they get to observe the world more closely and consequently start to become more independent and discover themselves. Yet they still have a limited ability to express their independence and communicate and reason. They begin going to play schools where they are expected to behave in a responsible manner. Yet unlike “responsible” adults they still are not permitted to be their own masters; their demands very often are branded as ‘tantrums.’
For children all this is a big confusion. As such it is very common for children at this age to be affected by stress and show signs of what appears as aggressive and defiant behaviour. Much of what you see unusual in your child can be attributed to this confusion of their transition state.
Now that you know the cause you can design strategies to help your children overcome these problems. Below are some tips you can employ to raise your children as emotionally-healthy, happy, confident and disciplined beings:
- Get down to your child’s level– And not just physically. Yes, kneeling down to your child’s level while telling her something important—like correcting her for her unruly behaviour—makes your communication more positive and effective, but it is also necessary to understand the child’s psychology. You need to be constantly aware that your child is a child and is not expected to have your maturity. You have to come down to her level and understand her behaviour from her perspective. Instead of downright rejecting her wishes you need to be careful to show your child that you understand her predicament. Listen to her and assure her that she can come up to you with anything that bothers her.
Befriend your child and you are sure to boost up her happiness and solve many of the behavioural abnormalities
- Acknowledge her independence– It’s good to let your child be independent at times instead of always dictating her about the dos and don’ts. In fact this would be beneficial for her future. But you also need to make effort to commit her to every word of the saying: ‘With freedom comes responsibility.’ One way you could do this by telling her how you feel about any action of hers; this will involuntarily make her more responsible in what she does. Another way to make their independent acts responsible actions is by inculcating in them the value of self-discipline.
- Be your child’s role model– You want your child to use the three magic words and you always scream out to your partner or maid when you need something to be done. Do you think this will ever help your child be polite and gentle?
You must have already answered the question. You are your child’s immediate environment and she is most likely to pick up habits you yourself have. Sociological research has established a link between depressed mothers and negative outcomes in kids like acting out and other behavioural problems. Parental depression and children’s behavioural problems have a one to one correspondence.
It is therefore your responsibility to cultivate healthy habits in yourself and maintain a good environment for your child to grow up. Keep her environment as happy and stress free as possible. This will also help her become optimistic. Dr. Christine Carter, an acclaimed sociologist and author of books and articles on parenting, observes:
“Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.”
- Balance the routine and the rewards– Have a routine made for your child and follow it. This will help you discipline her. Also a routine will bring some consistency and predictability to what appears to her as an unpredictable and overwhelming world. This means you need to make sure that your child has consistent nap times, meal times and play time. But you also need to be careful that you do not overburden her with absolutely inflexible rules. Once in a while the rule can be mended to her advantage and she can be treated with a little extra play time. But then again not too frequent treats or else your child might develop the habit of doing any chore in return for a reward.
The right balance of routine and rewards can have that desirable effect.
- Give your child the attention and praise she deserves– Pediatrician Lisa Asta, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, says:
“If you don’t tell your child when they’re doing the right thing, sometimes they’ll do the wrong thing just to get attention.”
Children need attention. When they do not get positive attention they take to actions which attracts the attention of their parents, though in a negative way. While this might be a problem for us, all the child understands is their parents are giving them attention. Therefore make sure that your displays of affection for your child out numbers the punishments and warnings. If your child behaves in a manner you want her to behave, applaud her. That will instantaneously put a smile across her lips and in the future she remember to behave in that manner.
Displays of affection like hugs and kisses and praise and attention actually motivates the child to follow the rules you set for her.