Seeing positives in any experience will develop children’s resilience and an optimistic outlook will help them to recover from set-backs that might knock other children down for life
We all want to raise happy children but life has its stresses and society puts pressure on all of us. How can we prepare them to feel happy and to be resourceful for life? This guide will help with some ideas which should keep your children - and you - happy.
In 2013, a UNICEF study measuring the happiness of children throughout the world reported that the UK was the 16th happiest country out of 29. Although 86% of children feel happy and safe at home and school, some children still don’t.
Being happy is a goal in itself but it also brings other benefits. Seeing positives in any experience will develop children’s resilience. An optimistic outlook will help them to recover from set-backs that might knock other children down for life. Happy children are less likely to suffer from mental health problems and confidence issues later on. And what’s more, they will be in the right frame of mind for learning!
Martin Seligman is the founder of the theory of Positive Psychology: ‘the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive’, at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr Seligman emphasises the importance of a positive state of mind to help improve our happiness and mental wellbeing. He also shows that happiness can be taught.
A calm and relaxed environment will encourage overall growth and wellbeing. Bringing up your child in a happy and positive environment will give them the confidence to believe in themselves and achieve their goals.
If your child is withdrawn or not engaging, these are warning signs that they might be unhappy. Recognise any signs as early as possible and intervene gently, with positivity. Don’t wait to see if it will ‘all blow over’. Mental health issues can affect children as much as adults. Statistics published by the NHS from the ‘Office of National Statistics’ conclude that 10% of 5-16 year olds in the UK suffer from a mental health issue. Around 4% of children suffer from anxiety or depression.
We all feel down from time to time but, hopefully, these are short-lived. To prevent your child becoming more prone to feeling unhappy, there are a few things you can do:
Just as negativity attracts negativity - positivity attracts positivity. We spend most of our time at home so how can we create a positive home environment for our children? Here are some tips:
More information is available on the Young Minds website.
So, how can you raise happy children? Communication and a positive environment help. Rather than material things, teach children that the best things in life are free, such as friendships, love, laughter and memories. Children copy what their parents do. So remember that they are watching how you deal with your own emotions and situations. Be optimistic, and provide a good role model.
You might also want to look at Action for Happiness - a movement for worldwide happiness. Their website has lots of resources, toolkits and ways of connecting with likeminded people to spread happiness!
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