As much as parents wish otherwise, they can’t assure how happy their child is going to be during their early years and continuing into adulthood. Genes will play a large part in determining their temperament, as will the environments they find themselves in.
But starting when they’re very young, the way the two of you interact and your influence on your kid’s life can help steer them toward the kind of growth that allows them to be in charge of their own moods and ultimately their destiny. These are some of the most important steps you can take in that direction.
Compliments about inherent traits such as intelligence, strength or talent can be good up to a point. The same goes for winning, whether it’s at soccer league or a poetry contest.
But be vigilant about praising their effort toward winning that game or contest, finishing homework on time or anything else they worked hard to accomplish. This puts the focus on something that’s totally within their control and helps protect them from fear of failure. Instead, this creates a “growth” mindset where their work and the things they learned are the reward.
Look for tasks within the household you can assign to your child, especially while they’re still young enough to think it’s cool! This applies even to toddlers and those who’ve just found their footing; they can be in charge of filling pets’ food and water bowls or organizing silverware or laundry. Have them start setting the table as soon as they’re tall enough — you can even have fun waiting for that moment as a milestone in their growth.
This will reinforce their self-confidence and the sense of having a positive role to play within the family, which can translate easily toward happiness and engagement as adolescents and adults.
Give your kids the gift of gratitude by modeling it from early on — teach them to say “thank you” by saying it yourself and meaning it. Be vocal about what you’re thankful for and create a time for them to follow suit, whether it’s before dinnertime, during prayer or any other time.