We all want the best for our kids don't we? We want them to be confident, successful, love others, feel loved back, chase their dreams and have fun but more than anything we want them to be happy.
I used to vex about how happy my children were, and still do sometimes, but with experience I've come to realise that their fundamental needs are very simple. They want to be heard, loved and given some special time. If I give them these three things every day, they thrive. So I do everything I can to ensure I make that happen and I know I'm investing in their happiness.
These three things are surprisingly uncomplicated and I'm going to share them with you:
1. Break out in a big cheesy grin every time you see them; when you walk in from work, pick them up from school, see them first thing in the morning or anytime when you've re-connected. Make your smile as wide as your face and this will transmit that you are delighted to see them. By smiling when you greet them you also send out a vibe of self-confidence, being carefree and happy and this will instil trust in them that all is well.
2. Listen hard and listen well. To listen to another person without thinking about what you're going to say next is much harder than it sounds; then to reflect back their words almost verbatim is even harder. But to do this for a child is a precious gift and it conveys several things: they are important, what they say is important, they are worth being listened to and they are worth taking time for.
3. Spend at least 15 minutes uninterrupted time with them. Yup, that's all they need to embed the certainty that they matter to you. However, this does mean 15 minutes without glancing at the TV or checking your phone every five minutes. It might help to get creative and spend the time doing something that you, as well as the child, enjoy doing. For example, read them "Swallows And Amazons" because you can be certain that's not a book they will read on their own. Or, grab your conductor's hat and take control of the train set. Or ask them to help you in the garden or cook dinner.
One brilliant way of spending 15 minutes with them is by doing something physical and that can be as simple as a 'rough and tumble', tickles, a back rub etc. or perhaps a bike ride, run, swim or playing with a ball in the garden. Not only does this get children moving but it increases the feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins. There's a mountain of research that's established a link between regular exercise and being more contented. Kids who are physically fit have a more positive body image than those who aren't. Physical exercise helps them feel a part of a game, have more fun and feel happier.
When children know they are loved, that their parents want to spend time with them and listen to what they have to say they grow into confident, happy people.