This month’s theme at Choo Choo Train Baby & Child Care is ‘Happiness First’. It’s easy for adults to assume that children are readily happy and we tend to underestimate their abilities to feel the opposite. In reality, children can have depression! (Source: raisingchildren.net.au) If we are committed to raising children in a way that helps them to grow into happy adults, we are making a tremendous contribution to humankind so let’s learn how to do it.
Apparently, the biggest indicator of a kid’s happiness is sleep. Not so surprising, isn’t it? The 2017 BTN Happiness Survey found that children who get enough sleep are twice as likely to report feeling happy all the time. If we want to help children sleep better according to their age, we can do the following:
1. Provide a safe and secure relationship with them
2. Have a regular bedtime routine
3. Ensure they get enough physical activity
4. Reduce exposure to technology two hours before bed
5. Remove electronic devices from their room at night
It is good to remember that children who sleep well are those who feel safe and secure. Safety and security are second in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs after physiological needs. What comes after physiological and safety needs?
Belonging and esteem. We can help children with these needs if we look into the habits that make up happiness:
1. How they think and feel about the world, and therefore perceive their experiences
2. Certain actions like exercising, eating healthfully, connecting with other people, and smiling and laughing
3. Character traits like self-control, caring about others, courage, leadership, and honesty
We can teach children to develop these habits of happiness by modeling them and frequently talk about them. Habits are the tendencies to act in certain ways when confronted with certain kinds of situations. It makes sense that the more children exhibit these traits, the better their lives work, the better they feel about themselves, and the happier they are.
Here are some fun facts about happiness based on research: External circumstances don’t affect our happiness level that much once our survival, safety, and basic needs are assured. The largest determining factor of our happiness is actually our own mental, emotional, and physical habits, which create the body chemistry that determines our happiness level. Ultimately, children (and adults) can be happy and grow happy when all the needs are met and one word to describe that is comfort.