When thinking about how to raise your child, you will no doubt be trying to create a happy childhood for him or her. But your child will not always only be happy, and there will be times when he will be extremely unhappy and it will be all your fault. He won’t feel happy, for example, when you make him do his homework, brush his teeth or put on sunscreen. Striving for pure happiness all the time isn’t realistic or sensible. The famous psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, said that even a happy life cannot be without some darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
Paul Martin, in his extremely enlightening and useful book entitled Making Happy People, has researched happiness broadly. Happy people, says Martin, are connected to other people. They are not loners. Happy children have loving, secure relationships with their parents and they have one or more good friends. Encourage your kids to play with other children from an early age rather than spending most of their time doing solitary activities like watching TV. In addition to this, engaging with a challenging task that requires cognitive and/or physical energy is very beneficial, says Martin. Playing a musical instrument, reading, playing a sport or doing something creative are all examples of this and they all bring about happiness.
Parenting tips for raising happy children
A secure attachment is the starting point for a happy childhood.
ii) Don’t overparent
Hold onto your own sense of self and don’t sacrifice too much for your kids.
iii) Get to know your kids
What makes one child happy won’t necessarily work for another.
iv) Be involved in their lives
Spend time with your children where you can. Don’t let them grow up with absent parents.
v) Let your child play
Give your child enough free time to play, both alone and with friends.
vi) Make your own mental health a priority.
Depression, anxiety and addictions in parents cause children to suffer. Get treatment for yourself if you are psychologically troubled.
vii) Lookout for signs that your child isn’t coping
Investigate and get professional help for emotional, physical, scholastic or social problems if you see evidence for these in your child.
viii) Don’t abandon your kids.
Get help from a social worker or welfare organization if you are struggling to make ends meet or to hold things together.
Happiness means something different to each of us, but to Allan K. Chalmers, happiness is about having “something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Perhaps you could offer that to your child.