Teaching Toddlers: How to Raise a Happy Kid
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve talked about teaching toddlers on the blog. We started out on this journey back in January and have made all efforts to stay on course since. I don’t have any posts up about the June topic, which was consequences, but you better bet you bottom dollar that we reviewed the impact of your actions and dealing with consequences at home.
This month, though, we’re focusing more on happiness. How do you teach a kid to be happy? How do you cultivate a happy home to have happy kids? Is it even important to raise happy kids?
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Emotional intelligence is so important and promotes healthy growth in kids. If you identify a feeling, if you give it a name, you’re able to help your child verbalize and understand his/her feelings. This, in turn, helps you teach them how to behave. And according to John Gottman’s research, this helps them nurture positive relationships and lends to long-term success.
For example, if Serena is mad at me for something. She says, “I’m so mad at you,” and may make a fist or scream it at me. (Honestly, probably both!) If she starts crying, she knows to start her breathing techniques until she can calm down. When she’s calm, she talks about what is bothering her. In the mean time, she knows not to hit or push anyone. Your mood shouldn’t determine your behavior. In other words, feeling something is okay, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean you get a right to act it out.
I think that raising a happy kid is not as easy as it sounds. You would think it comes naturally, right? But depression amongst teens has steadily risen over the past 15 years. And I’m a firm believer that change starts with you, change starts are home.
So, that’s why I’ve compiled a list of techniques that we’ll be working on at home this month. Make sure you subscribe and follow our instastories to see how we’re doing.
5 Ways to Raise a Happy Kid
I’ve said this over and over again, but kids learn by mirroring. They watch and duplicate. So the number one way to encourage a happy kid is to control your own happiness. Our mood sets the vibe in the home and through that, they are able to absorb and determine how they want to behave and react. Do things that make you smile and laugh, whether it’s watch a movie, relax on the hammock, or dance. Whatever it is, make sure your child sees you being happy doing it.
Love your spouse and put them first. I know a lot of people may not agree with this, but Sanj and I always learned through our business mentors that it’s God, Spouse, Kids, Business/Job, in that order. When your kids see Mom and Dad appreciating each other, celebrating together, and being romantic, they build a habit of being happy. Some ways to show a happy marriage in front of your kids would be to hug often, compliment each other, hold hands, say “I love you,” and go on dates.
Let the know it’s okay to make mistakes. MISTAKE: that’s a word we taught Serena early on because shit happens. This morning, she was trying to close her own sippy cup and she dropped it. She cried for a minute and I told her it was okay, it was a mistake. I gave her a towel and she cleaned it up herself. And BOOM, she was a-okay. Sometimes, kids need encouragement to clean up their own messes and mistakes. Things happen, you fix it, and you keep smiling your merry way on. The reason this is important is that it leads to positive self-talk for your child. They’ll learn to problem-solve and feel more confident in their ability to succeed in adversity.
Put the phone down. Turn the TV off. Work can wait a little longer. Kids are only kids for a little while. Before you know it, they know how to say the word “yellow” and “purple” properly. When you pay attention to kids (even when they’re being annoying and repetitive), it makes them feel valued. That sense of self-worth leads to a healthier self image and ultimately, happiness.
Nurture positive relationships with other people around you. Don’t just set the example, be the example. What does that mean? Basically, don’t just point out and identify the characteristics of a what a healthy relationship with others looks like. Have them. Be friends with people and have fun with them. Encourage and edify others. Your kids will see what a happy, healthy relationship is supposed to be like and search those out in the future as they grow older.
Here is a list of some books that could potentially be very helpful with getting more strategies on teaching a kid to be happy:
Do we yell in this house? Yes, sometimes. Do we cried over spilled milk? Yes, sometimes. But we also love, fiercely and openly. We hold hands and talk. We pay attention and give respect before we expect it.
We make an effort to be happy, even when we may not really be. So that our kids know that your mood doesn’t determine your behavior.