Every parent wants to make their child happy, but do we know what happiness is? Here’s a look at the misconceptions.
Table of contents
- A happy child has everything he wants
- A happy child does what he likes
- A happy child is necessarily joyful
- A loved child is always happy
- A happy child is never bored
- They need to be protected from stress
- You must say “I love you” every day
A happy child has everything he wants
Happiness is absolutely not the satisfaction of all desires; all philosophers agree on that! Whatever your age, getting what you want brings a transitory relief that looks like happiness but is not true happiness. A bit like scratching an itch, we feel a pleasant, positive relief, but feeling truly happy is different! And once the immediate satisfaction of a desire is over, new ones are instantly created; it’s unquenchable. Humans are like that, they desire what they don’t have, but as soon as they have it, they turn to what they don’t have yet. To make your child happy, don’t give him everything he wants; teach him to choose his priorities, tolerate frustration, and limit his desires. Explain that there are things you can have and things you can’t; that’s life! Tell him that you, the parents, are subject to the same law, that you must accept to put limits to your desires. The rain is wet, and you can’t have everything you want! Faced with clear and coherent adults, toddlers immediately understand the logic of the world.
A happy child does what he likes
There are two families of happiness. Happiness is linked to pleasure – for example, going on a swing, receiving hugs, eating sweets and goodies, experiencing pleasant sensations. And happiness related to the mastery of new acquisitions, to the progress, made every day in one’s activities, for example, understanding how to do a puzzle, knowing how to ride a bicycle without the little wheels, preparing a cake, writing one’s name, building a tower with Kapla, etc. It is essential that parents help their toddler to discover that there is pleasure in mastery, that it requires effort, that it is sometimes difficult, that it must be repeated, but that it is worth it because, in the end, the satisfaction is immense.
A happy child is necessarily joyful
It is true that a child who is happy, well-balanced, who feels good about himself, who is confident in life, smiles and laughs a lot with his parents and his friends. But whether you are an adult or a toddler, you can’t be happy 24 hours a day! In a day, we are also disappointed, frustrated, sad, worried, angry from time to time. The important thing is that the positive moments when your child is calm, happy, and satisfied are more numerous than negative ones. The ideal ratio is three positive emotions for one negative emotion. Negative emotions are not a sign of educational failure. Accepting that a child experiences sadness and can discover by himself that his sadness can disappear and that it does not lead to catastrophes is fundamental. He must develop his “psychological immunity” by himself. We know that if we bring up a child with too strict hygiene, we increase the risk of allergies because he cannot make his biological immunity. If we overprotect our child from negative emotions, his psychological immune system cannot organize itself.
A loved child is always happy
His parents’ unconditional and unlimited love is necessary but not sufficient to make a child happy. To grow up well, he also needs a framework. Knowing how to say no when necessary is the best service we can provide. Parental love should not be exclusive. Beliefs such as “Only we understand you, only we know what is good for you” are to be avoided. Parents must accept that other adults may intervene in their child’s education differently than they do. A child needs to rub shoulders with others, discover other ways of relating, experience frustration, and suffer sometimes. You have to know how to accept it; that’s what education is all about.
A happy child has lots of friends
Of course, a child who is doing well is generally at ease in society and easily expresses his feelings. But this is not an absolute rule. You can have a different personality style and still feel good about yourself. If social contact tires your child more than others, if he is cautious and a little reserved, it doesn’t matter; he has the discreet strength in him. The important thing for him to be happy is that he feels accepted as he is and has areas of freedom. A child who is adept at quiet happiness, who sings, hops around, likes to play alone in his room, invents worlds for himself and has a few friends, will find what he needs in his life and will blossom as much as the most “popular” leader in the class.
A happy child is never bored
Parents are afraid that their child will be bored, go in circles, and remain unoccupied. So they organize a minister’s timetable and multiply the activities. When our thoughts wander, when we do nothing, when we look at the landscape through a train window, for example, specific areas of our brain – which scientists call the “default network” – are activated. This network plays a fundamental role in memory, emotional stability and the construction of identity. Today, this network functions less and fewer screens; chained activities permanently capture our attention. We know that brain downtime increases the level of well-being while
Over-occupation leads to stress and reduces the feeling of happiness. Don’t fill your child’s Wednesdays and weekends with activities. Let them choose the ones they like and enjoy and intersperse them with moments when nothing is planned breaks that will soothe them, calm them down, and encourage them to use their creativity. Don’t get him used to “continuous flow” activities; he will no longer appreciate them and will become an adult addicted to the rush of pleasures. This is, as we have seen, the opposite of true happiness.
They need to be protected from stress
Studies show that overexposure to stress in children is problematic, as is overprotection. It is preferable that the child be informed of what is going on in his family, with the simple and de-dramatizing words of his parents, and also that he understands that these same parents are coping: the lesson that adversity exists and that it is possible to face it will be precious to him. On the other hand, it is useless to expose the child to the television news, except if he/she asks for it, and in this case, always be at his/her side to answer his/her questions and help him/her to decipher the images which can be upsetting.
You must say “I love you” every day
It is important to tell her often and clearly that we love her, but not necessarily daily. Our love must always be perceptible and available but must not be suffocating and omnipresent.
No two children are alike in terms of behavior, attitude, and thoughts. This is why raising children is quite complex. Getting what you want provides a brief feeling of happiness, but it is not actual happiness. Don’t give your youngster everything he wants; instead, teach him to prioritize his needs.