Raising Happy Children:
1) In order to raise a happy child we need to model what we want our children to be. Present a model of a positive respectful adult, treating your partner, teachers, and community leaders in a positive way. Do not make fun of your partner, he or she is a huge part of how a child sees themselves. Even if you do not always agree with what a teacher or school employee does, disagree in a healthy manner. These adults are the anchors in your children’s’ lives. If you treat them well, your child will as well. He will feel good about himself and these people in his life will reflect his attitude back to him.
2) Your children need to feel confident about the future. Be positive about your job, and do not walk in the front door complaining about the economy and your co workers and boss. Let your kids know that you will have a way to support yourself and them. If you are economizing, remind them that it is a choice to live responsibly, paying the bills before having entertainment. When you need a new job, go ahead and look, but do not make it your child’s problem. Work if you have the opportunity, and value your job, so that you will raise a worker.
3) Praise your children, but not excessively or extremely. Use specific words of praise. Instead of looking at their picture and saying “What an excellent picture. I love it. You are the best” a better comment would be: “I like your picture, tell me about it. I can see it means a lot to you and that you have talent. I like the red bow you put on the dog.” The phrase “Tell me about it” lets them know that you want to hear what is important to them.
4) Respect your children’s privacy and dignity. Do not talk about their “problems” in front of them, like they are things instead of people. Be cautious who you share that information with. Not everyone needs to know that they wet the bed, or have ADHD or threw a really big tantrum. They did not choose these conditions. On the other hand, do let your children hear you praising them or bragging on them, when they think they are eavesdropping. “Jill helped with supper last night and set the table.” “Sam plays well with all the younger children when I need to get things done.” When you tell other people how much you value their contributions, your child will be motivated to help even more often and feel like they are an important family partner.
5) All of us like choices, and children want choices. Give appropriate choices to your kids. What would you like to wear, this one, or that one? Shall we eat at this food place, or would you rather go to this other place? Do you want to play soccer this year? When someone gives a child a choice, they give power and confidence.
6) As much as possible, let your child experience natural consequences for his deeds. If you throw the snowball up in the air it may land on you. When you do not do homework, you get a bad grade. Not eating all of your supper means that you may be hungry before bed time. You said you did not want to play soccer this year, and now it is too late to sign up. You may play next year. You did not take your orchestra music to school and now you must stay after school.
7) Enjoy having new experiences with your kids. Try a new recipe together, from shopping to chopping to cooking. Visit museums, and go to local festivals. Visit a “pick your own” farm. Research an idea on the internet or at the library. Let them know you do not know everything, but you certainly like learning in their company. It is a lot of fun.
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