As much as we’d like to wrap happiness up and give it as a gift to our kids this holiday season, alas, we cannot. Happiness comes from within. It can only come from within. No amount of telling our children they “should” be happy for this or that can actually make it so. So how can we raise our children to be happy if we cannot give them happiness? (This is starting to sound like a Zen riddle!) Well, there’s hope…and it is not complicated. Research shows we can give our children happiness in the way we parent and in the way we live our lives.
One of my all time favorite books on the subject details this out very plainly, giving real world examples and strategies that help kids tap into their own internal wellspring of happiness. The book is The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward M. Hallowell.
In it, Dr. Hallowell examines the research on how kids learn to create and sustain lifelong joy…regardless of the circumstances of their lives. Profound. He offers a simple explanation and five easy steps parents can take.
If you are like me you are thinking, “What ARE the 5 steps??! Give me the formula!” Well, the book is worth a full read, but here they are in a nutshell:
Through his personal experiences and as a child psychiatrist, Dr. Hallowell reminds us of the significance of CONNECTEDNESS (my favorite theme of all time), playfulness, optimism, and joy in our daily lives. One major take away is to avoid over scheduling your child’s life. They need lots of time to just BE, to play and create and imagine…you know…like you and I got to do when we were kids? Not dance, soccer, gymnastics, music and karate classes…just your child/ren and chunks of time with nothing to do but be a kid. This book really helped me off the hook of feeling I somehow needed to entertain my kids24/7 if I was to be a “good mom”.
Now the words “Mom, I’m bored” are music to my ears. It means I’m doing my job and my kids are being given ample down time to just be; to practice figuring out how to create their own happiness. And they do. Minutes after “I’m bored” our girls move head on into some of the most creative and magical games you could ever imagine…making fairy clothes out of leaves…dressing the cat to look like a rock star…the list goes on.
This enlightening book is thought provoking and a must read for anyone hoping to inspire happiness in the lives of children. I am encouraged to know that as parents, we can make a profound difference in our children’s abilities to create and sustain happiness no matter what challenges life may bring their way. I hope you will read this book and that it brings joy and ease…to your children and to your parenting.
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. She is also the co-creator of the Yoga Parenting course.