Happy Childhood: The Science Behind Creating One For Your Kids
'Studies show that 1 out of 6 adults suffers from adverse experiences in childhood. These include abuse, trauma, and neglect. We know that these mental illnesses and incidents can profoundly negatively affect children.
But what early life experiences lead to happy children and well-adapted adults?
Raising well-rounded and emotionally intelligent children takes work, but the benefits are worth it if you want to create childhood happiness for your kids. The right type of attention, bonding, and care can significantly impact, even through adversity in childhood. As a parent, there are ways that you can ensure that your child has happy childhood memories.
Keep reading to learn what science says about creating a happy childhood for your kids.
Teach Your Child Emotion Regulation
Learning to manage and regulate emotions is critical when thinking about what makes a happy child.
Emotions have a substantial impact on a child's development and learning. Positive emotions can improve a child's ability to learn by holding their attention and encoding information into their minds. However, negative emotions can hinder a child's learning by blocking cognitive processes.
Emotional intelligence and regulation are essential to your child's overall happiness and success. This is not something that children are born with; it must be taught.
One of the primary ways children learn to regulate their emotions is watching how parents manage this. You cannot expect your child to be calm, patient, and mild-mannered if you overreact when they have misbehaved.
Emotion regulation is complex, even in adults. Perhaps your parents did not equip you with the necessary tools to manage stress and overwhelming emotions. To provide that model for your children, you must work on controlling your feelings.
During stressful parenting moments, it's important to remember why you should not yell at your kids and what you should do instead.
Give Your Child Positive Attention
Giving your child love and attention is one of the primary ways to create their self-image.
They need caregivers to offer affection, loving messages, and positive reinforcement to develop a healthy sense of self-confidence. These interactions assure your child that they are cared for, valued, and bring happiness to others.
There are many ways that you can show your child positive attention. This helps your child know how valued they are and reduces the likelihood of them developing a mental disorder:
- Look and smile at your child
- Make eye contact
- Use loving expressions
- Use physical affection such as hugs and kisses
- Use terms of endearment and loving language
- Celebrate your child's small successes
- Could you encourage your child in their interest?
- Take an interest in their activities
- Do fun things together
- Ask them to tell you about what they are doing
These gestures provide love and warmth that give your child the positive experience they need. This shows that you support and encourage them.
These are important throughout all phases of childhood, and they can be done during daily activities. Sharing a meal, changing their diaper, or getting them dressed for school, are all opportunities to engage in positive attention.
Create a Safe and Protective Home Environment
One of the main ingredients in a recipe for a happy childhood is providing a safe home environment.
While this can sound like a given, it's not a luxury that all children are given. Many parents are wrapped up in their own lives and emotional turmoil to create a hostile environment at home that can cause trauma.
Abuse and neglect are obvious ways that a child can feel unsafe in their home. But there are subtle things that can lead to this as well. Extended absences, preoccupation with work, and inability to bond with your child are all ways that can leave them feeling insecure and unsafe at home.
Specific positive experiences can give your child the experience of a happy childhood home. A caring neighbor, consistent meals, and a comforting caregiver can help to ease the effects of adverse childhood experiences.
Children have lots of stressors in school, with friends, and online, and it is vital to give them a feeling of safety and security at home.
Praise Their Effort the Right Way
If you want to raise happy children, you must focus on their effort rather than their ability.
Striving for perfectionism in your children can create an adverse effect. It puts too much pressure, leaving your child feeling inadequate. It also takes away the enjoyment of the activity.
Many parents push their children too hard and overemphasize success. Studies show that these children are more likely to become depressed, anxious, and abuse illegal substances than other children.
The praise must be directed at a child's effort in a particular area.
Giving children praise for the hard work and effort they put into a task allows them to engage in the process that leads to achievement. However, if they are focused on the outcome and worried about how smart they will look, they lose focus on the task.
Prioritize Your Happiness as a Parent
Now, this might sound like strange advice. As a parent, you are taught to put your happiness aside for your child and their happiness.
However, this makes sense if you consider an emergency to secure your oxygen mask and life vest before assisting your child. You cannot expect to raise happy and healthy children if you are a miserable parent.
If you want your children to be happy, you have to model happiness yourself. Your children can sense your unhappiness, but they also take your behavior as an example of emotion regulation.
Studies show that children are 70% more likely to develop depression in adulthood if their mothers experience perinatal depression. There is also a causal link between a mother's depression and problematic behavior in children.
Additionally, depression makes it difficult to parent effectively during those precious developmental moments. You must prioritize taking the necessary steps to find happiness in your own life.
If you feel unhappy or burnt out as a mom, it is essential to find support. Check out these tips for managing burnout and improving your overall mental health and well-being.
Incorporate More Playtime
Playtime for your child is comparable to the personal time you take for yourself each day. It helps keep your child in the present moment, develops natural curiosity, and teaches problem-solving skills.
A good amount of playtime also helps children improve their physical, social, and emotional development. They learn about the world around them and understand how to socialize with others through play. Many of the skills they develop during playtime are crucial throughout their lives.
Here are some of the skills children develop during playtime that are critical in learning, mental health conditions, relationship building, and even future employment:
- Building confidence and self-esteem
- Learning to interact and build social skills
- Reducing the risk of developing a mental health disorder
- Fostering curiosity about how the world works
- Reducing anxiety
- Gaining independence
- Developing coping strategies and problem-solving skills
These are just some of the benefits of playtime for your child and their overall happiness. Along with the many benefits, there are different types of play for your child to engage in.
Free Chosen Play
This type of play allows a child to control their space. They can decide when they want to play and what they want to play with.
Here, adults do not lead the child. Instead, they are led by their imagination and interests.
This helps children's development, autonomy, and well-being in their life.
Parenting and Play
As a parent, getting involved in your child's playtime is crucial for bonding.
It is essential to let your child lead playtime without directing them to a particular activity. It shows your support and encouragement in their life interests.
This is an opportunity for you to connect and have fun with your children. Give them freedom of play and let them show you what activity they want to share with you. When participating in parenting play, be engaged and entirely focused on your child and ask questions.
The next time you play with your child, try these matching outfits for fun parent playtime.
Physical Health and Play
There are many ways to improve your child's physical health through play. Getting them away from technology and out for some fresh air is a great way to spend playtime. This can mean going for a bike ride, running, or going to the park.
Some of the benefits of physical play include:
- Improving agility and stamina
- Fine motor abilities
- Developing coordination
- Improving balance
However, you choose to spend playtime outside, enjoying the outdoors with your child is a great option to create happy memories. It is also beneficial for your life, health, and well-being as a parent. This creates endless playful learning opportunities.
Allow Them to Make Decisions
It is natural to want to protect your children from their actions' risk factors and negative consequences of their actions. But, being an overprotective parent and making decisions for them can impair their development and lead to poor mental health.
The only way that children can learn to make the right choices is by experiencing the consequences - this takes practice and repetition.
Let your children take the reins for decisions that don't involve their health or safety.
Here are some helpful ways that you can give your children decision-making opportunities:
- Talk them through their choices by gently guiding them
- Allow them to follow through on their decisions
- Avoid advising them what to do
- Let them suffer the consequences of their actions
These guidelines help teach your children how to be autonomous. They also help to build self-esteem and self-trust.
Motivation to succeed can only come from the willingness and desire to succeed. You can give your child this desire by giving them the freedom of choice.
Get Them Involved In Music
Getting your children involved in a music class or playing a musical instrument can benefit many other areas of their lives, including their happiness.
Studies have shown that learning music through singing, listening, and movement can significantly benefit their formal investigations later. Using their voice or playing an instrument can evolve into a wide range of beneficial skills for all types of learning.
It helps older children manage their time and attention more efficiently. For infants and toddlers, music development classes are a great interactive bonding experience for kindergarteners and toddlers.
Here are some other benefits of incorporating music into your children's lives:
- Builds perseverance and diligence
- Provides children with activities that don't involve technology
- Can help with language development
- Can increase children's I.Q.
- Improves spatial-temporal skills that are used in other subjects
These are just some of the benefits of music in your child's life. These can foster feelings of happiness and prevent mental illness. Success in music can have a positive impact on their childhood.
What Science Says About a Happy Childhood
Ensuring your kids have a happy childhood is vital to their success and raising happy kids. Being aware of the impact of early life events and their link to mental health outcomes is essential knowledge for any parent. If you want to ensure that your parenting fosters a happy childhood environment for your children, remember to follow this guide.
Teach your child how to regulate their emotions, and get them involved in music. Spend more time playing with them while prioritizing your happiness. Praise them in the right way by giving them positive attention and encouraging them to make their own decisions.
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