The Art of Living Happily - How to raise a Happy Child
About two to three decades ago, an article with this title would be scoffed at, as the idea of teaching children to be happy, is akin to teaching a fish to swim. After all aren’t your children naturally programmed to be happy? Well yes and no. Your child is naturally programmed to be happy and live in the moment, if you let him grow up in such an environment. In today’s competitive world, where child counselling is considered as a lucrative profession how do you ensure that your child is not bogged down by his demanding schedule, and breezes through his wonder years with a sparkle in his eyes, bounce in his step and yes happiness in his heart. Here are a few thoughts.
As it has been rightly quoted by Fr. Alfred D’souza “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. So the first thing you have to make your child realise is that happiness is not something that they have to aspire to achieve, like’ if I get that toy I will be happy’ or’ if I visit the zoo the next week I will be happy’ . Happiness is right here right now, it has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have. Happiness depends on your circumstances and your reaction to those circumstances. Tell your child that while he cannot control those circumstances what he can learn to control is, his state of mind. This is something that you can teach your child very early on in life.
Teach your child to be grateful; to appreciate the good things that come his way. In today’s world it is very likely that your child takes most of his privileges for granted, but you can’t really blame him as he is used to getting whatever he wants before he finishes uttering his demand. Space out the treats that you give your child; so each time he yells for a new toy or pizza; don’t bend over back wards to get it for him. Reserve treats for special occasions so that he will learn to enjoy and cherish them more .Let him save up for a special toy that he wants and pay for it out of his own pocket money. This will make it special for him and he will appreciate it more.
Teach him to push his limits to undertake a challenge. Yes, that new cartoon movie in a multiplex or the latest Xbox will bring a big smile on his face but it may not necessarily increase his sense of well being. Experts say that the sense of happiness and achievement that comes when you accomplish a particularly challenging task lasts much longer than when you buy a material possession. So introduce him to an activity to match his skills or passion like sports, arts or music. Being involved in something that he is passionate about, will automatically up his happiness quotient.
Be a happy role model your self. You cannot give lectures on happiness while walking around sulking for the better part of the day, and expect your child to be brimming with happiness. Consciously try to brighten your mood, appreciate simple pleasures in life, like a beautiful night with lovely moon, or a well cooked meal and celebrate simple mile stones like new rose that bloomed in your garden or an A+ on a test paper. Teach your child by example that happiness is a matter of choice. So their friend might change schools or he might not win a particular contest or things might not always go his way but he can either mope and weep and ask ‘why me’ or bounce right back with a ‘there is always next time ‘ smile. As Abraham Lincoln said “ most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”.