The second we become parents, our goals in life dramatically change. From birth, we do everything we can to make certain they go places in life; our goal is to do everything in our power to make sure they are the happiest and most successful people they can possibly be. As parents, we want to do everything in our power to make sure they have unlimited opportunities, follow their dreams, to be successful, and above all to achieve blissful peace and happiness. We all want our children to turn out better than okay.
By now, you’ve learned that there are many interpretations of how to raise a happy, successful child. There is so much advice out there on how to do it, but it can be extremely difficult knowing which advice to trust and who to listen to. If you’ve had an earful of advice and are looking for some more stable advice, it’s time you turn to to your counselling experts. We’ve compiled a list of parenting secrets that will help your child live a happy, successful life. To learn more check out our family counselling page and help your children and yourself.
1. Laugh A Little
One of the best ways to set your child up for social success is by cracking a few jokes. According to research presented at the Economic and Social Research Councils’ Festival of Social Science 2011, playing with your child gives them the tools they need to think and work creatively, socially. Being able to make jokes with your child also gives them the necessary skills they need to balance stress levels and interact socially with other children to joke with. Do your toddler a favor and LOL!
2. Be A Happy Parent
This is one of those “monkey see, monkey do” situations. From a very young age, children’s happiness is often linked to the happiness of their parents – it goes without saying that unhappy parents emote less effective parenting. Happy parents are more likely to have happy children, so cheer up! Often times we stress the small things (it’s easy, there’s a lot on a parent’s plate), and at the end of the day there’s an important thing to remember; our children want us to be happy, just as badly as we want them to be happy.
3. Be Connected
“A connected childhood is the key to happiness,” says Edward Hallowell, MD, child psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness (Ballantine Books). Think about your child’s “network” and how it will benefit them emotionally. You can foster a lifelong emotional well being by making sure they have many connections that promote their feelings towards being understood, being loved, acknowledged and wanted. Fortunately for us, our emotional connection to our children is deep-rooted, but for long-term happiness and emotional evolvement, your child needs to trust that they have a network of connections to feel ultimately appreciated. So when they’re young, help build their connections with family, with their babysitter, to friends, neighbors and pets for quality bonds that will protect them from emotional distress later on.
4. Play Positive
This one shouldn’t be a shock; aggressive children are a result of rough handling. Expressing negative emotions towards a child is linked to behavioral aggression seen in children as early as 5 years old. You will ease a lot of problems for your child’s aggression by playing positively and discouraging negative emotions towards your infants and young children. It takes patience sometimes, but expressing positive emotions towards your young one can link to positive emotion later in life with their romantic involvement.
5. Celebrate Together
Celebrations can be big, rowdy parties or small things like rounds of applause for using the potty. For both big and small occasions, celebrating together as a family results in happy families, therefor-happy children. So bring the family together for all celebrations, big and little, whenever possible to celebrate and share happiness to your child.
6. Don’t Force Happiness
As hard as it might be, we can’t grant every single wish our children so desperately needs. Although it sounds counterintuitive, the best thing for parents is to realize that they are not responsible for their child’s happiness. By giving them everything they ask for in the short term, they establish unrealistic expectations in the long term; you shouldn’t grant every wish. Children who don’t have the opportunity to deal with anger, sadness and frustration as children have few skills dealing with negative emotions as adolescents and potentially even as adults.
The real world has ups and downs, and while we do encourage celebrating the ups, we encourage you to not “fix” all of your children’s problems, even though you really, really want to. With resilience skills, your child will bounce back from real world disappointments.
7. Encourage Self-Compassion
Avoid the vortex of parental guilt. Research suggests that self-compassion promotes happiness by way of mindfulness. Set an example for your children by using your emotions and thoughts without being carried away; commit to solving problems through empathy and mindfulness and your children’s attitudes will reflect accordingly. Compassionate tendencies make for successful people.
8. Strengthen Your Marriage
We said it – prioritize your marriage over your children. At times this can be extremely difficult because let’s face it, fights happen. Family therapist David Code, author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, says: “Families centered on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children. We parents today are too quick to sacrifice our lives and marriages for our kids.”
Having a fulfilling marriage is one of the best examples you can set for your kids. There are a lot of ways to strengthen your marriage, even through extremely tough times, and it can take a lot of dedication – therefor, you and your spouse will need to recognize that it can and should take priority. Keep your marriage a priority to encourage a fulfilling family example for your young ones.
9. Praise The Right Things
While it may not surprise you, studies constantly suggest that happiness and self-esteem are linked. While we want to praise them for every little thing they do, it’s important to deem certain aspects worthy. It’s easy to give your approval, but the “achievement praise” can certainly backfire in the long run. For instance, if you only praise your daughter for being pretty, what happens if she grows old and loses her beauty? That can do a lot to her self-esteem, and in turn, her happiness.
We’re not saying to withhold your praise for your bright and talented children; we’re suggesting you think twice before celebrating everything. Praise the effort – rather than the result. By redirecting your praise to hard work, creativity, and goals, your child will have a fuller sense of achievement.
10. Let It Go
Take some advice from the songs your children are listening to – “let it go!” It’s inevitable that you’ll have a moment where you realize your child is growing up. For some of us, that realization doesn’t settle in until we’re moving them into college hours away from home. It’s difficult to let go, but at the same time it’s important for their overall success and happiness to function on their own. Relaxed parents encourage children to be less anxious and open to new experiences that help them develop their sense of self. Let them make their own choices when necessary. Give them the opportunity to feel comfortable in the own skin by learning when to let go.
11. Give Them Your Attention
We’re parents, we’ve become the ultimate multi-tasking masters. It’s a necessary skill to adopt when you become a parent, balancing work, family and relax time. This is going to be a tough tip for many of you to adopt given your talent of multi-tasking, but giving your child your full, undivided attention is critical to their happiness. Really listen to what they say. Put down the paper, power down the Ipad, and give them a response that’s fully developed.
Communication skills are essential to professional success, which can in turn give your child a happy life. So start by practicing good listening when your child has something to say.
12. Accept Success and Failure
Failure is inevitable. Unless we allow them to experience it, our children will never feel the gratitude of mastery. Think of it this way: accepting failure and success promotes a healthy self-esteem for your offspring. Of course you’ll celebrate your child for their successes, but it’s a careful practice to not give them a false sense of their actual capabilities – that’s why it’s necessary to accept that they will fail, and to teach them how to learn from the experience.
Being a mother or a father is ultimately is going to be a wild, rewarding ride no matter how ready you are for it. Even though everyone believes that they know the best parenting practices, every child and every family is unique. All things considered, you know your child best and you will have to customize your parenting to your situation. It is no secret that the best parents are those who really know their child, and do everything they can to make sure they’re happy and successful.