What can you do to create a home where your child’s happiness will flourish?
Nurture Your Happiness
Happy parents are likely to have happy kids, while children of depressed parents suffer twice the average rate of depression, Murray observes. Consequently, one of the best things you can do for your child’s emotional well-being is to attend to yours: carve out time for rest, relaxation, and, perhaps most important, romance.
Praise the Right Stuff
Not surprisingly, studies consistently link self-esteem and happiness. Our children can’t have one without the other. It’s something we know intuitively, and it turns many of us into overzealous cheerleaders. Our child scribbles and we declare him a Picasso, scores a goal and he’s the next Beckham, adds 1 and 2 and he’s ready for Mensa.
Allow for Success and Failure
Of course, if you really want to bolster your child’s self-esteem, focus less on compliments and more on providing her with ample opportunities to learn new skills. Mastery, not praise, is the real self-esteem builder. Fortunately, when it comes to the under-4 crowd, nearly everything they do is a chance to attain mastery—because it’s all new to them: learning to crawl, walk, feed and dress themselves, use the potty, and ride a tricycle.
Give Real Responsibilities
“Happiness depends largely on the feeling that what we do matters and is valued by others.” “Without that feeling, we fear we might be excluded from the group. And research shows that what human beings fear more than anything is exclusion.” In other words, people have an innate need to be needed. So the more you can convey to your child that he is making a unique contribution to the family, from an early age, the greater his sense of self-worth and his ultimate happiness.
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Oliver & Kim