The Secret to Raising Happy and Motivated Kids - 4aKid Blog
As parents, we all want what is best for our kids. We want them to be motivated and successful in life. We’re always trying to do our best to ensure our children put their best foot forward. It can be compulsive want to solve our children’s problems and make sure they aren’t facing any undue hardships or stressors.
It is a parents job to make sure thier children have what they need, that they get good grades, that they make good friends and they succeed but do you ever just worry about them being simply happy?
Being happy is such an important part of life that is often put on the back burner for things that people feel takes priority. Careers, money and success can all take precedence over happiness. If you take the time to ensure your child is happy, the rest will fall into place.
Being happy isn’t just a mood, it translates to so many other aspects of our life, as a child and as an adult. Being happier leads to being motivated, it makes you want to achieve things and be your best.
So, what is the secret to raising happy and motivated kids?
Kids need encouragement. The world can be a big, overwhelming place and children can often feel discouraged. Whether it’s school, sports, activities or just everyday life, kids need to hear encouraging words to push through difficult times. They need to know that you have their back and that they can do it, whatever it may be.
When life gets difficult, let your child know that you are there for them, help guide them but don’t overstep or take over. Encouragement doesn’t mean doing it for them. As much as your child is struggling, what they will learn from encouragement is that you are there to support them. They will have the satisfaction of pushing through the difficult time without you interfering with the learning process.
When your child does a good job, let them know! Kids love positive praise and it will often lead to more positive behaviour. What you don’t want to do is overuse praise (yes, that’s a thing), too much positive reinforcement can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve. If your child is constantly told that everything they do is awesome, they won’t be able to handle criticism when faced with it. Even though you may think it, not everything they do is show-stopping. Save the praise for when it’s deserved.
Appreciate What They Have
Whether your child has very little or everything their heart desires, they need to be taught from an early age to appreciate what they have. Instead of being jealous of what others have, teach them the value in what is theirs. There is always going to be someone that has more than them or something better than them. They need to learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Spend quality time together as a family, even if it’s something as simple as a walk down the road or curling up for a movie night. Weeknights can be busy, running from activity to activity. Dinners are rushed or on-the-go. Take some time to slow down and do nothing. Sometimes the greatest moments happen when doing nothing.
Not everyone in your or your child’s life is going to be positive. They are going to be faced with criticism in their lives all the time. How they handle the criticism is the difference between a child that learns from that criticism and a child who dwells on it until it affects their mood and personality. Your child needs to learn the difference between constructive criticism and hurtful criticism because both are valuable resources in your child’s life.
- Constructive criticism will teach your child that there is other, possibly better way to do something or say something. They will learn that other people may have experience and that their criticism isn’t meant to bring your child down but rather to build them up and help them be the best they can be. Let them know that what they did was good but here are some other ideas that may help with improvement.
- Hurtful criticism is also a valuable lesson for children. It teaches them while everyone has an opinion, they may be criticizing due jealousy, spitefulness, dislike or other negative factors. Your child should learn to take this criticism with a grain of salt. To graceful acknowledge the criticism but brush it off with their head up.
By teaching your child how to effectively deal with all sorts of criticism, to change something because of positive constructive criticism or to ignore hurtful critism will keep your child from dwelling on the fear that what they do isn’t good enough.
Lose (and Win) With Grace
No one likes a poor loser… or winner. When I play games with my children, I rarely let them win on purpose. They lose and they learn to lose with grace. By letting your child always win will set them up to be a sore loser when it finally happens, because it will. Just like you want your child to lose gracefully, the same goes for winning. When your child wins anything, a game, an award, a sporting event, they should also do so with grace. There should be no bragging or showboating. Be proud of them and celebrate but to take other people’s feelings and efforts into consideration. Teach them to shake hands, to appreciate the other team and players, teach them a good effort, win or lose.
Put Family First
Nothing is more important than family. Teach your children to put family and especially their siblings (if they have them) first. Siblings are almost always going to have their differences but they are going to be there for each other from the cradle to the grave. Teach your child to stand up for their siblings, teach them to help their elderly grandparents without hesitation, teach them to respect their parents. Friends, boyfriends/girlfriends and acquaintances should never be put ahead of your own family. When your child has a strong family connection and solid family structure, they feel loved and secure.
Children need boundaries. Not having boundaries can lead to insecurity, anxiety and depression. Children, on their own, are generally unable to make appropriate, sustainable and mature choices regularly. They need to hear the word no and to be told why. If they know there are clear boundaries, there are no surprises or disappointments.
The Value of Hard Work
Nothing feels better than working for what you want and truly earning it. There is a sense of satisfaction in hard work (even though your child may not think it at the time). Let your child work for the next video game they want, they will appreciate it so much more.
Kindness and Empathy
Being kind and empathetic can sometimes be difficult to teach. Some kids are naturally kind or empathetic by nature, some are not. There are easy ways to teach kindness or empathy for kids that struggle with it. When your child is kind to someone else, it instantly makes you feel happier.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Visit an old-age home
- shovel a neighbours driveway or mow their lawn (without expectation of payment)
- Donate their old toys or clothing to a charity
Be Happy Yourself
Are you happy? Do you try your best to put on a smile when you’re around your children or do you let your bad mood take center stage? It can be very difficult when dealing with personal situations or work drama to still put on a happy face but as a parent, you need to. Your kids need to see you happy and you need to try your hardest to actually be happy. Do things that make you happen, show your kids you can still have fun even if you’ve had a bad day.