Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday's Thoughts: Raising a Happy Child...

Little minds can be very complicated minds. The mere fact that they're young — even extremely young — does not mean that they don’t experience a world of complex feelings and thoughts. What does it take to decipher their complex minds and raise a happy, secure child?  I'll like to share 5 tips from this article which I found to be helpful.

1.  LOL! Joking Helps
Never be afraid to join your kids in their world...

Lighten up! Joking with your toddler helps set them up for social success. When parents joke and pretend, it gives young kids the tools to think creatively, make friends and manage stress. Daddy aces this department; whenever he's around, the house livens up. He's wacky, he's spontaneous and he engages Dana in wholesome boisterous fun and imaginative play. Daddy's philosophy? She's only gonna be young once and let's enjoy her (and let's help her enjoy her childhood) while we can!

 2. Be Positive

Looking forward to her 1st Marathon Run because she knows we'll be cheering for her.

Parents who express negative emotions toward their children or handle them roughly are likely to find themselves raising aggressive kids. That’s bad news, because behavioral aggression at age 5 is linked to aggression later in life. So if you find yourself in a cycle of angry parent, angry baby, angrier parent, try to break free. Think positive, speak positive and it will alleviate many behavioral problems in the long run. As a Mom, I am ashamed that I'm quick to anger whenever Dana delays compliance or acts willfully.  I am also guilty of threatening (and occasionally using) corporal punishment (a.k.a cane) on her.  I've come to realise I need to react positively; to balance my strict code discipline with an extra ounce of patience so that my daughter does not grow up thinking she is unloved. 

3. Nurture Your Marriage

A special delivery from the hubs when he was in the States on a business this year. 

Don’t let your relationship with your spouse or partner fall by the wayside when baby is born. A happy marriage is the foundation growing happy kids. Make efforts to keep the flame of romance alive and let your spouse know he/she has not been displaced by the addition of children.  Even though the hubs and I may not be able to go out on date nights often (due to lack of extended home support),  we never fail to send each other a short SMS or whatsapp message everyday to say 'Love you' or 'Thinking of you...".  Little gestures like these go a long way to anchor the relationship in love.

A self-taken portrait on one of our rare date nights...

4.  Don't Aim For Perfection

It's ok if the clothes are mis-matched...she's having fun with pretend play!

Nobody’s perfect, so don’t torture yourself with an impossibly high bar for parenting success. Parents who believe society expects perfection from them are more stressed and less confident in their parenting skills. Make an effort to ignore the pressure (though easier said than done), and you may find yourself a more relaxed parent. After four years of Motherhood, I've learnt not to sweat the small stuff.  I don't measure my success against other Mommies or my child's success against theirs. No matter how good we are, there will always be other Mommies who can cook/sew/bake/write/homeschool/throw a better party than I do so why subject myself to such unnecessary competitive mentality which breeds dissent and insecurity? Instead, I chose to give thanks and be contented with my lot. Only then will I be at peace to celebrate and embrace my talents, my strengths and help my child to count her blessings too.

House over-run by toys? She's creating magic with them!

5. Judge the Behavior, not the Child

I am Special because God made me so!

The most important job of a parent is to make a child feel intrinsically worthy.  No matter what their accomplishments or failures, as parents, we should completely accept our child for who they are (rather than who we want them to be). To achieve that, we should honestly critique a child's behavior, but not the child's character. This distinction makes it less likely that the child will confuse her actions or accomplishments with her self-worth.

For example, saying "that was a hurtful thing you said" is less harsh than would "you were being rude and disrespectful." Similarly, saying "that was a clever idea" may be better than saying "you are brilliant". That way, when a kid inevitably does something wrong, he doesn't feel he has ruined his parents' opinion of him. Personally, I think this is one of the most important take away from this post.  The foundation of a happy child essentially lies in their healthy self-worth. If they feel assured, loved and valued, they will grow up happy. To criticise the behaviour and not the child - what a timeless piece of golden advice for all parents. I MUST start conscientiously applying this principle in my parenting duties so that my words will not stem Dana's self-esteem.

Thanking God for my happy princess!

What about you? What do you do in your home to raise a Happy Child? Which of these tips do you find helpful? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Linking up with MummyMoo's

All photos in this post were taken with the Iphone 3 and 4.


Jasmine Koh said...

I think it is really important to laugh and play with our kids. As a mum, I sometimes get so caught up with the things i need to do for my kids, I forget to play. Thanks for the reminder!

MamaJ said...

Thanks for the tips! Many a time I forget to lighten up & have fun with them because there's so much to get done, so your post is a great reminder for me. :)

MummyMoo said...

I totally agree with all your points, especially the one which states that our emotions are channelled toward the child. They will respond negatively to negativity!

I intend to never forget to emphasise the concepts of play, fun and being happy to Caden. I think these are so much more important than worrying about exam marks and educational achievements.

IQ vs EQ. A happy child has a happy childhood. They have the rest of their lives to worry about burdens in life, the least we can do is to prolong that initiation :)

Chewy Martian, Daddy Chewy said...

Thanks for sharing! Totally agree with the 5 points you have mentioned!

Very often many parents are comparing hence making parenting very stressful and children are not enjoying their childhood. As we are all in the rat race, we often forget that children need to play, and importantly to play with us, not just toys alone or paying a "3rd party" to play with them. They need us as role models to show them the world and bonding with our children through some fun and laughter helps them in many ways.

I am glad you share this post! A great reminder!

Susan said...

Love everything that you mentioned. To raise a happy child is to recognize that they too are entitled to their emotions, be it happy, angry or sad. Helping them to be confident of their abilities and also what they are good at will raise their confidence and make them feel good about themselves.
Of course, being silly with them also helps to keep them positive and I agree that how we act out our emotions on them will be caught on by them.

Adora said...

Thank you for this reminder, Angie. I find it a struggle to find the right words to say sometimes and not let anger take over. I have to take many deep breaths!

Dana's Mommy said...

Hi ladies,

Thanks for all the comments! The tips for raising a happy child are non exhaustive and never will be. Every child is different (even among siblings!) and each child comes with unique needs which parents strive to meet in our own special ways. In this hectic world we live in, I too need the reminder to set aside time to play, to imagine, to dream and to have fun with Dana. This is the season to capture their hearts before their peers do. This is the season to endow them with the right values, attitudes and character by giving them our undivided time and attention. This season will soon pass, we must not let it slip by us without putting in effort...

Finda Nanny said...

I agree with all your points, thanks for writing a great post.
As for the cane, I won't even have one in the house. I am completely against physical punishment of any kind with children. I know not everyone agree with me. but hitting a child just seems so wrong on every level.