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7 Keys to a Happy Child

7keyshappychild.jpgIt’s every parent’s hope that their child grow up smart, healthy, and most importantly happy. For parents who were themselves raised in happy homes, this is as natural as breathing air. For those who were raised in an unstable, even dysfunctional environment, this becomes a bit trickier. Sometimes the intention is there, but not the knowledge nor seemingly, the ability to follow through their good intentions.

But you know what? You can always try.

What makes a happy child, who then later on becomes a happy, productive adult?

  1. Create a secure attachment in your child. A secure attachment takes into consideration thoughts and feelings of a child (not the caregiver) and is formed within the first two years of life. A secure attachment is formed with a primary caregiver who gives consistent positive response to a child’s cues for comfort or discomfort, hunger, and feelings.
  2. Praise moderately, and keep criticisms constructive. The rule of thumb should be 3 praises for every criticism. And keep praises realistic such as “hard worker”, “good thinker” instead of “brilliant”, “beautiful”, “perfect”.
  3. Don’t talk about a child’s behavioral problems in front of them. Children internalize these opinions and discussions and can forever see themselves as a “problem child”.
  4. Set boundaries and rules for children, and expand the boundaries as they grow. Too little rules create a chaotic environment, and they may later resent the rules of the grown-up world. Too many constricts their ability to think and make their own choices, and they may distrust their own ability to make decisions.
  5. Let them try and fail, and try again. Assure your child that you value their hard work; value the fact that they try. This sets the child’s expectations that anything worth accomplishing takes hard work.
  6. Be happy with your partner, and in yourself. Nothing gives a child a more secure feeling than knowing that they are loved, and that their parents love each other. Later on, they’ll model your relationship in their own. Do what you can to never criticize yourself in front of your children (I’m too fat, too poor, too ugly).
  7. Emphasize relationships instead of money and things. When your child sees that you hold relationships and connections with other people at a higher regard than anything else, they will do the same. Their happiness isn’t related to consumption, over-consumption, keeping up with the Joneses. Instead they’ll view happiness as related to friendships and family. And according to recent research, healthy and positive social connections is the number one quality in people who scores highest in the happy scale.

This takes practice, and if you’re lost, the most important place to start, is the step in number one. Even if your child is much older, it’s never too late to start creating a consistent routine. Then move on to mastering one step at a time.

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