All parents have hopes and dreams for their children: these hopes and dreams cover decades, from before a child is even born to well past the point that they become an adult themselves. You never stop wanting the best for them, because you love them. More than anything, though, the most important thing any of us can wish for our young ones is that they will be happy. Happiness is something that can’t be bought, and it doesn’t grow on trees; it needs to be nurtured from early life.
While you cannot guarantee anything – because life happens while we are busy making plans – the truth is that happiness is something that you can work to bring about in the life of a child, as they grow towards adolescence and further on into adulthood. Focusing on certain important principles increases the chance that, whatever obstacles we may face in life, we can maximise the happiness for the people that matter most to us…
Let them be themselves
The most important thing that any of us can do for our kids is listen to them when they talk to us. The kids that grow up happiest – and with the best ongoing relationships with their parents – are the ones that never feel they have to hide things. When your children talk about their interests, listen and encourage them – because enthusiasm is to be encouraged. If they talk with delight about seeing a children’s magic show or a football match, ask questions. Childhood interests can grow into productive expertise in adulthood.
Show them happiness
It may sound bizarre, but much of a child’s outlook on life is learned non-verbally in ways you’d never imagine. This includes what they see and hear when they are at home. If you want your kids to be happy, then, it’s amazing how much of a difference it can make when you wear a smile and act happy around the house. You might not always feel it – no-one does – and your projections may not always be convincing, but adopting a positive attitude encourages it in others. If your kids see you being happy, they’re more likely to have the same attitude.
Be open and honest with them
Some parents make the mistake of shielding their kids from any and all upsetting information about the world, but the truth is that we don’t live in a utopia and, sooner or later, kids will be exposed to sadness. Your job is not to sit your kids down and tell them about all the bad things that can happen – that is only going to scare them – but to give them information when they ask.
At school, or at home when the TV is on, kids will inevitably come up against difficult subjects, and all you can do is answer honestly when they have questions. They may not like every answer they hear, but if you are there to comfort them and reassure them, they’ll be that much more ready for the world that awaits them, and better able to handle bad stuff when it happens.
You can never guarantee a smooth path in life for your child, but by offering them a philosophy for life, you can make sure that they have a positive outlook that will serve them well.