Five ways to make a happy childhood and good times last

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JOCELYN LAUREL

All parents want to see their children happy. When their children are happy, they are happy. Likewise, teachers endeavor to make their students happy, and not surprisingly, parents prefer teachers who make their children happy even more than those who emphasize academic achievement.

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Research suggests that half of how children turn out is probably genetic and beyond parents’ control. But about 15-percent of what happens to children can be attributed to what parents have done—15-percent to how the marriage is going, and another 15-percent from the history of the family. So how can we ensure that we are giving our children a happy childhood?

Sit back and enjoy the show. In the early years, parents invested in making their children “turn out right” that they forgot something essential—parents do not create the person their children become. They should watch them become the individual they were meant to be, with capabilities and interests and responsibilities all their own. If we foster in them affection, love and confidence in their own abilities, happiness and self-esteem will take care of themselves.

Choose to laugh. Never underestimate the value of accentuating the positive. Consider, for exam­ple, a spilt glass of milk. When it splatters across the floor, the cat is ecstatic, the dog confused, the children wide-eyed—and waiting. One can yell, curse, fume—or make a conscious decision to laugh. As Leigh Anne Jasheway’s newsletter reads, “Don’t Get Mad, Get Funny.” By using humor to lighten up a stressful situation, we lessen the little stressors that don’t really deserve our anger energy. Remember: “Anger is one letter away from danger.”

Pursue family fun-even when it isn’t. After a certain age, all kids object to family outings, deemed as boring. The kids have too much homework; they’ve made plans with their friends. Endure these complaints with as much calmness as one can muster, then go anyway. We always hear how fast time flies. Before we know it, the kids are grown up and out of the house. Therefore, as parents, we should take advantage of the days and years we still have with our children around us. When we place focus on family bonds, we give our children an education that goes beyond the confines of a school, at the same time strengthening the bond more deeply with our kids.
Make traditions matter. Keeping traditions alive is important for teaching the next generation about a particular or shared past. Traditions contribute a sense of comfort and belonging, bringing families together and enable people to reconnect with friends. It’s the small, unique-to-your-family rituals that stick with children and come to have the most meaning.

Let them be bored. Have you ever stopped to think that your kids are boring because you never let them be bored? In today’s action-packed world, many parents cram every waking moment of their child’s life with non-stop activities. Yet there’s a lot to be said about stillness: it allows room for dreaming, imagination, and genuine creativity. Remember: Boredom is the friend of creativity. Being bored allows your children to turn their attention inward and rely on themselves for entertainment. This fosters independence and independent thinking. By allowing your child to be bored, you are allowing them to gain independence and confidence. So next time you hear your child say, “I’m bored,” rejoice! because something amazing is about to happen!

Lastly, as parents who love their children beyond all measure, we tend to spend far too much time agonizing about what we have done wrong instead of celebrating what we have done right. So why not indulge in a bit of justifiable parental pride?

A parent’s mantra should be: Take the credit; dump the guilt! If we, as parents, learn to worry less and focus on what matters most, which is on raising productive, happy and moral kids, we can be assured that happiness will come to them by virtue of the good that they do and the love that they feel from us.

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