Three Little Things You Can Do to Keep the Little Ones Happy

Misbah Akhtar

Here’s a tricky question: Would you rather raise well-behaved kids, or happy kids? While in truth, this is a false dichotomy, it is also the stuff of real parental anxiety. Some were, themselves, raised in a culture where visible happiness was a sign of weakness. Life is hard. And it is supposed to be that way. You can’t build character without adversity. Too much happiness means not enough adversity.

Then again, perfect behavior isn’t everything. Children should be inquisitive, confident, bold, and maybe just a little bit cheeky. They should be guided, not controlled. Happiness is a major goal of every human being. A happy child grows into a happy adult.

But one does not have to pit good behavior against happiness as if they were polar opposites. One could make an even stronger case that happy children are easier to train, and as a result, will be more well behaved. If you subscribe to that version of parenting, here are a few ways you can make your little ones a little happier, and perhaps even a little easier to parent:

Comfortable Kids Are Happy Kids

Here is a parenting tip that you probably already know: If your kids are allergic to wool, don’t make them wear wool. It is a basic idea that helps your kids stay less itchy, whiny, and irritable.

As you might have already guessed, wool is not the only thing to which your kids may have a sensitivity. Those seams that come standard in socks and underwear are real annoyances for a lot of people. Those no seam socks you keep hearing about can be a real life saver for kids with sensitive skin.

It may cost you a few pennies more to buy special clothing for your kids. But what you get back by way of happy kids is worth it. It is okay to make your kids feel special because they are special.

Snacks and Treats Are Happy Eats

So much attention is given to healthy eating that we have forgotten all about happy eating. Food that is good for you should also taste good to you. Otherwise, healthy eating just feels like a punishment. Beyond specific recipes, we have a responsibility to our kids to serve them food they enjoy, the same as we do for ourselves.

As parents, we have to consider factors besides health. This sounds very strange at first. But consider your own human experience. There are times when a milkshake is better than a plate of fresh cut broccoli. A milkshake is never going to be the healthiest choice. But it sometimes will be the right one.

Sometimes, it is perfectly okay to indulge in something that feels good and makes you happy. If you have a habit of healthy eating and physical fitness, one milkshake from time to time is not going to harm you. Provided that your kids are healthy, calorie-burning machines, the treat will be fine.

There are also perfectly good and healthy smacks that can be enjoyed between meals. Some experts recommend snacking between meals to suppress the appetite. That keeps us from wanting to overeat when the big meal is set in front of us.

The point is simply this: within the range of dietary common sense, find as many ways to give your kids things they enjoy for meals and snacks. Otherwise, mealtime becomes an occasion of stress. And unhealthy relationships with food never end well.

Hobbies

Part of being an inquisitive child is trying lots of things and discovering what you like. Give your child every opportunity to try as many things as possible, including the things you know they won’t like. In large part, that’s how they learn.

No parent can predict what their child will or will not be good at, or what they will develop a passion for. Giving them an opportunity to explore interesting and silly hobbies is the key to the next breakthrough in science, technology, biology, and life in general.

Make happy kids, by making them comfortable, making mealtime joyful as well as nutritious, and encouraging them to try new and interesting things.

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