Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: What It Takes To Raise Well-Adjusted Children In Today’s World
By: Samantha Dewitt
Updated February 20, 2020
All parents want their children to be happy, but sometimes it can seem far more difficult than you ever would have imagined. After all, when you plan to have a baby, you think about how wonderful their life is going to be. You plan on how easy things are for them and how they'll be completely perfect. And then you have a child who is thrust into the middle of a very not-perfect life. So what do you do? It's all about being a peaceful parent, happy kids.
Why Your Peace Matters
Many couples or single parents go through things just to make their children happy. They stay in relationships that aren't happy for them because they think it's best for their children. They remain at a job that makes them frustrated because they think it's best for their children. In fact, we do a number of things because we think it's in the best interests of our children, but that's not always the case. The number one thing that you can do for your children is to be happy yourself.
The truth is, children aren't quite as naïve as we tend to think they are. They pick up on things a lot faster than we expect them to and those things mostly affect them. If you think your child doesn't notice the fighting between you and your partner, you might be wrong, as sometimes they definitely see it. When you think they don't know how frustrated you are coming home every day, they absolutely do and it's difficult for your child to be happy and to live their most productive life when they're seeing all of these.
When you are happy it shows in the way you parent your child, then it shows in the way that they react throughout their life. They internalize the things that they see in you and those things get shown in the way they interact with other people. If your child seems withdrawn or moody or prone to outbursts one of the possible causes is something that's happening within your family unit or that's happening with you. If you aren't peaceful and happy, it's going to lead to problems for the child you're trying to raise.
Raising Happy Children
So, if the first step to raising happy children is for you to be peaceful and happy yourself, what else is there? There are actually a number of different things that lead your child to be happy as well as being better adjusted within the world. Some of these include developing confidence and autonomy, consistency and strong relationships among others. By helping your child in each of these areas and more, you're most probably setting them up for more success throughout their life and they can help no matter where you are right now.
Confidence and Autonomy
It's extremely important that your children feel like they can make decisions for themselves. The level of decision-making that you allow them is going to vary based on how old the child is, but it's extremely important for you to allow them to do things on their own. Let your child make mistakes and learn how to solve those mistakes on their own. Let them choose their own clothes in the morning and make their own friends. These things allow your child to gain confidence in their own decisions and to feel like they have what it takes to do the right thing, whenever they need to.
If you're not being consistent with your child, you're going to hurt them. Whether it's a punishment or a reward, your child needs to know what they can expect and when they don't know what to expect it makes them confused, frustrated and they may act out. That means if skipping school means they're grounded you need to make sure to follow through. It may seem strange, but not being punished in the same way every time is just as bad for a child as not being rewarded in the same way every time. If they don't know what to expect, they will act out.
Encourage your child to form friendships and get to know other people their own age. Friendships allow them to explore new things and to expand their horizons. Encourage them to create not just several friendships but at least a few very strong, deep friendships. You want your child to have a place where they can be themselves that isn't just within your own home. That's going to be with a close friend who is outside of the family. So encourage those friendships as much as possible.
Your child may not be perfect. No matter how great they are at things, they're never going to be 100% flawless at everything and you shouldn't expect them to be. Even more importantly, they shouldn't feel like you expect them to be. If you express displeasure any time your child makes a mistake, they might internalize it and it'll make them feel less every time they don't measure up. Every time they fail to achieve perfection they're going to feel like you don't love them or that they have failed you and that will cause more trouble in their future when they don't know how to fail.
Let Them Play
Playtime is crucial for children, especially during their younger years. Play allows them to express themselves, to explore new things and to act out whatever they want. It encourages creativity and learning. It allows them to work on fine and gross motor skills and a whole lot more. Encourage them to play and play frequently. Encourage them to play with different types of toys and to try out new things every time they can. All of these things are going to make them more prepared going into their future.
Keep Them Positive
On the same lines of not expecting perfection is teaching your children not to expect perfection. Don't let them get too down on themselves for missing the catch in the baseball game or getting a lower grade on the test. Yes, it's okay to work with them on how they could do better, but it's important to let them know also that failure happens and that sometimes you don't do as well as you would have liked. That's not a time to get down on yourself. That's the time to just figure out what you can do better and do it next time.
Teach Coping Skills
When your child does feel upset or depressed let them know that it's normal. They will feel these things sometimes and there's nothing wrong with it. But show them also what type of coping skills they need to have in order to overcome those feelings. Let them work through different things that are going to make them feel better or help them move on again. You can introduce a number of different options, but let them make a decision about how to implement them in their lives.
Did you know that just being around your child and available to them when they need you is one way that you can help them? When you spend time together doing anything, whether it's playing or eating dinner or anything else at all, you're building a strong relationship with your child and that can actually help to model good behaviors and good relationships to them. It helps them to feel more secure as well, because they know that their parent is right there when they need you. Overall, this will certainly help them in several different ways.
When it comes down to it, there's a lot that you can do to help your child to be better adjusted and better prepared for the life they will have going forward. Whether your child is young or is a teenager already, you can definitely put them on the right path by helping to model it to them with your own happiness. But it's going to take more than that if you're trying to help an older child who has experienced less positive experiences in their younger years. You may want to seek out professional help.
A mental health professional, like the ones available through BetterHelp, can work with your child to better understand what it is that they need and how they're going to work toward a better future. Your children will be able to work through their problems and you can even work with them on how to build your relationship and create a strong foundation for them. Whether you feel like you're modeling happiness for your child or not, you can definitely still work on building up the relationships that you have and being the kind of role model that you've always wanted your child to have. This is true especially if you haven't focused on your own happiness in a long time.