That right there, that’s my whole world. Not much else matters as long as I have them. As they grow older I know that life will take them on many journeys and they will endure many heartaches and disappointments. I want to teach my children how to find true happiness, regardless of life’s circumstances. (Especially after this story, we’ve certainly learned what truly makes us happy and it isn’t money) I have 6 ways to have a happy child and I promise that happy children also means a happier home.
(How much do you love how excited little C was in this picture?)
One of the hardest things about having kids is letting them grow up. If they grow up how can you make sure that you will always stay close to you and be good, well rounded adults? Oh, I know that I only have a 6 year old and a 2 year old, but trust me, I worry about them. Especially now that our sweet P. has entered 1st grade. I don’t want my daughter to ever have her feelings hurt or feel bad about herself. Although I do know that it builds character and will make her strong by going through life, I just can’t bare the thought of watching her struggle. We want our children to know how to find and give happiness.
Our family has a few traditions that help us to keep open communication and love in our home. We always want our daughters to know that we love them, we trust them and they can trust us, we want what’s best for them, and that they have great self worth. Most of all, we want them to have true joy and happiness.
1.Listen To Your Child: This can be a tricky one because kids seem to always want your attention. Especially if you are on the phone. But, you’ll never get those moments back.
Stop. Remember what it feels like to want to be heard as a child. Or an adult for that matter. If everyone is always putting you off, telling you to hold on and never truly listening to you, with time you don’t think you have much to tell anyone, because you aren’t worth listening to.
A wise friend once told me that, “If your kids care more about being with friends and tell them everything and you nothing, they need more of your attention”. All of the ways below will also touch on attention, but stopping to give one your full, undivided attention will help them to feel that they can come to you at any time, and they are what’s most important.
2. Set Aside Time Every Day To Talk: Clearly I’m a big fan of family dinners. This is a perfect time to open up and talk with your children. Don’t just ask about their day at school, get into more than that. We will ask silly questions like, if you could have any treat right now what would it be? Or, if you were an animal which would you be? We also talk about each other. We will have everyone, including parents, say something they love and admire about someone else. The more that you “unplug” around the dinner table and talk the more open everyone becomes.
3. Create a Family Mission Statement: Children who have good values and a family that works towards good things with clear guidelines, succeed in life. They concentrate on becoming happy inside versus looking for things outside of the home and themselves to bring joy, which never lasts forever.
Discuss as a family what things are important to you and what type of people you want to be. Our family concentrates on being true, honest, service oriented, hard workers and fun. We talk about these traits often, we share experiences we’ve had during the day that match a certain trait, and we look for opportunities to grow more.
4. Serve Others: Why do we think that only people who are part of charity organizations can serve? We all can. Every day. Our family is constantly looking for ways to serve each other in the home and those outside of it. We emphasize serving each other before ourselves, and always being mindful of others. Even when we are unemployed there are ways to serve. Whether it’s babysitting for others, helping to clean up someone’s yard, taking a treat or meal to someone who made need a pick-me-up or some additional support are great ways to teach your children how to be aware of and care for others, which in turn teaches them to love themselves.
5. Play as a Family: Go be fun and giggly with your kids. Forget the bills, the chores, the responsibilities and go be a family. Don’t you remember how fun it was as a kid to just play? Kids need it to feel stable, to feel joy, and to feel love. And guess what? You need it too. Laughing together is one of the best cures for all things. I realize this gets hard depending on the age because friends become so cool, but remember that important nugget my friend taught me in number 1. These kids need us. Playing together gives them your attention and a happy family is a successful family.
6. Write Letters: This is one of my favorites. My kiddos were given free range to create “mailboxes” for themselves and us. Whenever we feel like it we can write a letter, note or card and drop it in the other person’s mailbox. This is a fantastic way to bond with your children. I’m not kidding. We love receiving letters and pictures and we love to write them back. This one even has an added bonus, it helps your children to read and write better. Yup. BONUS! We also are choosing to write our daughters letters that they don’t know about. When they are 18 and ready to move away from home we will give them as a gift. The letters say things that happened that year, how we feel, advice, things we want them to achieve, know and learn. Sometimes just writing about your little one can help you keep your priorities in order. As they get older, you can talk about more important things, even things they may not want to talk about face to face yet.