Keeping the joy of childhood
Is this 2 year old joy or what??!!
My most frequent prayer for my children lately is for their true joy and happiness as they enter the adult world. I realize now that I really have very little control over their happiness at this stage in their life. Their happiness must come from within themselves, and sometimes that is difficult for me to accept. I no longer can really “make” them happy. I sometimes wonder if parents can really ever “make” their children happy, or can only teach their children tools to develop the natural inner happiness and joy that children are born with.
When I think of young children, I think of these kind of smiles. Smiles that come from deep within, that are a natural part of who they are. This kind of happiness is natural for children, and somewhere along the way, many of us lose some of that natural happiness. Adults often say, “It is easy to be happy when there is no responsibilities or problems!” That may be true to some extent, but I believe true happiness or joy does not relate totally to life circumstances. I think all of us can stop and think about certain people who have incredible life challenges and are filled with true happiness and joy. I think all of us want our children to keep that deep happiness that seems to be a natural part of being a child. As parents, we can have real impact on our children, helping them to learn habits to keep that inner happiness and live a life of joy, even when it may be tough.
- Look at our own happiness and nurture it. In reality, we can’t control our child’s happiness, but we can be responsible for our own. Joyful parents are more likely to raise joyful children. So, one of the best ways to foster happiness and joy in your child is to work on your own inner happiness. Carving out time for rest, taking care of yourself with healthy habits, forming meaningful relationships, and practicing true gratitude will infuse happiness and joy into your life….which often leads to a child that incorporates those habits into his own life.
- Unconditional love. Providing your child with an unconditional loving environment will help foster a child’s self-love which is the key to self-confidence. When a child has self-love, then he or she is able to give that love away to others. Loving others unconditionally is a key to true inner happiness and joy. Many parents experience that feeling of true happiness in loving their own children.
- Don’t try to force happiness. As parents we often try to “fix” things for our children, because we don’t want them to experience disappointment or unhappiness. If we continually rescue our children and do not allow them to feel those emotions of disappointment, anger or frustration and sadness, they will never learn how to handle the emotions. An adolescent or adult that has never truly dealt with any of life’s difficulties can be devastated by those emotions. Allow your child to experience some of life’s natural hardships and deal with them. This develops lasting happiness.
- Praise the process. Children that are only given praise for end results feel that happiness only comes with perfection. Praising the process helps a child begin to learn from the process of problem solving and handle failure in stride. Failure should not result in a loss of inner happiness.
- Allow them to struggle at times. It is so difficult to watch a child struggle. Remember, practice brings mastery, and when a child masters a skill, then an optimistic mindset is formed. Children will begin to look at challenges with a “can do” mindset, with optimism which is one of the keys to happiness.
- Give your child real responsibilities. People who feel needed and valued are happier. Giving your child true responsibilities that increase with age and ability will show your child that he or she is a valuable part of your family. Kids can be a big help in a home too!
- Practice gratitude…always. Thankfulness for every part of your life brings true inner happiness. Stopping and actually writing down or speaking out loud the reasons you and your children are grateful daily will refocus everyone on the positive even when life is challenging. Gratitude leads to lasting happiness and joy.
So, it is “Fun Friday”, my favorite day of the week. I will remember today that I need to live a life of loving deeply, embracing the moments that are both good and challenging, and always, always approaching each day with a grateful heart. I pray that I have set this life strategy firmly in my children’s inner being, so they too can be responsible for their own true inner happiness and joy. Celebrate your life today!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.