How to raise a happy child?
Every job needs certain qualifications, be that a course or workshop, certain schools or even years of university education. Every job has its responsibilities. None of them, however, has as deep consequences for someone as the job of a parent. Yet, nobody teaches us how to raise a child. I mean, there may be parenting courses, but they are usually too short to get to the real core of child rearing. Even university courses of pedagogy or developmental psychology are only theoretical and don’t allow students to apply their knowledge in practice. The lack of proper preparation to bringing up children often leads parents to asking the question of: How (the heck) should I actually raise my child so that he or she is happy? How to make my son or daughter happy?
In this post I will tell you about the most vital factor in raising a happy child. This is like a rule of thumb. Every parent should think how to apply it to their individual situation, depending on the age of the child and many other factors. It is not a ready solution.
Give them wise love
If you want to have happy children you need to provide them with the right environment for development. The most important thing here is the feeling of security. You can achieve that by providing your child with one vital thing: wise love. Wise love is such that goes along the golden mean in many aspects. From my experience with parents, I have noticed that whenever there are problems with a child’s behavior, there is usually a problem with one of these aspects.
In the pyramid of needs by Maslow self-development is at the topmost layer. That means that in order to achieve personal development all other needs must be fulfilled. These include physiological needs (like food, drink and sleep), safety and security, and feeling of love and belonging.
Maslow proposed his hierarchy of needs for adults. For a child, there can be no security without feeling loved, so these two needs actually overlap each other. And it is not enough if the child is loved, but parents for various reason are unable to express what they feel. The child needs to feel he or she is loved.
How to make the love “wise”?
As I said before, wise love goes along the golden mean in many aspects. First of all, we need to show the child that he or she is loved. However, this does not mean that we allow them do everything they want, just because “we love them”. This is actually the opposite, because in the long run, it will have devastating consequences for the child’s social as well as practical skills in adult life.
The wise love makes a parent (believe it or not) stick to rules. This can actually help the kid feel more secure. A child is born with the natural ability and need to seek boundaries. This allows them to learn what is safe and what is not, which was vital to survival in prehistoric times. If we don’t show them the boudaries, they won’t know what is allowed and what is not and they will feel insecure. This is why children need us and our moral systems to build their own life rules.
These rules may be explicit (such as “Come home on time”) or they may just mean that you follow a certain system of values. One thing is essential here: YOU follow the rules and YOU must be consistent with them. Remember, that the best teacher is the model of behavior.
However, there’s some good news. Sticking to rules still doesn’t mean being all strict. Especially with teens, we need to allow them to have their own space, simply out of respect, which is part of real love. There is that proverbial golden mean. If you get too lenient, the child won’t know the boundaries; if you get too strict, the child (and you, too) will get frustrated. However, the things that are most important to us (e.g. their health and safety) should be treated with no exceptions.
How to make my child happy?
All in all, the most important thing in raising a happy child is love. It not only supports the child’s feeling of security, their self-esteem, but also allows them to develop more steadily. You can find more specific information on how exactly it helps your kid in an article by Mark Oliver for Motherly here.
In this post I highlighted a very general rule to follow. In other post you will be able to find more specific information. For example, you may find some ideas about forging a bond with your child here and here.
I hope it all helps. Please, comment about your ideas on raising a happy child. Remember, you’re helping other parents this way.