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Secrets To Raising Happy Children

In our blog post how to discipline a difficult child I said the following: To provide the conditions or guidelines through which children can adapt to #happy and #balanced #participation in #life and #relationships.

The keywords in that sentence are happy participation.

The Pink Hairbrush

Rose came to preschool today with a pink hairbrush. She held it very tight in her little fist and carried it around with her wherever she went. At one point in the morning, she left it on a little table for just a second to pick up something else that had her attention. Just then Eva, who had been eyeing Rose's brush for a while, ran right for it and grabbed it. When Rose walked to the table to grab her favorite pink hairbrush again, it was gone. She looked around the room and spotted Eva carrying it happily. She walked over to Eva and silently but firmly tried to grab it. Eva would not give her new toy away. With a wild look in her eye, Rose grabbed Eva's hair with one fist, and grabbed the brush with the other. Now they are sitting side by side. Eva is missing a huge chunk of hair that is, together with her brush, held tight in Rose's little fists.

Can this be any different?

From the thousands of kids I have observed over the years, the little ones demonstrate this “fight or flight” mechanism very dramatically. So Rose's brush is giving her a false sense of security, because she feels #threatened. Don't we all feel that way from time to time, even as adults?

Let's go back to the first statement for a moment...

We can help children grow up fundamentally happy and balanced by providing happy environments and supportive, loving relationships, that also encourage growth beyond limitations. We can help them experience the joy of giving and the grace of receiving. And of course, the main way of helping this come into being, is setting an example in our own lives. Wait! Before you stop reading because you feel this is impossible, the next thing I want to say is you can't do it alone! You know how people say “it takes a village”. Well, this is true. I would very much encourage you to find people, both other kids and adults, that help create this “space” for your children.

So, as I said the keywords were happy participation.

To me, happy participation is something you do when you experience:

  • the joy of what it feels like to give and receive love (for example by sharing your hairbrush)

  • the gratification you feel when you go beyond limitations, (like learning a new skill that is very challenging, and requires a lot of persistence)

  • the power of autonomy and discrimination the ability to discipline or manage your self (with freedom comes responsibility)

  • the strength to express your feelings and listen to others the connection felt in friendship

  • the enjoyment of relaxing and breathing

  • the safety in trust

  • play

  • group activities

  • conversations about the meaning of happiness, love, and gratitude

  • hugs and positive physical contact

  • that you are more than what you look like

So the answer to the question can this be any different? is YES!

Children (and adults) feel fundamentally threatened because they are #vulnerable. We are all going to die at some point, and that could make us feel very threatened or afraid. But it doesn't have to. We don't have to try to forget it, or try to distract ourselves from it, but we can shift the way we relate to it. Death is a natural part of life.

As Carl Jung said: "I am convinced that it is hygienic--if I may use the word--to discover in death a goal toward which one can strive, and that shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose."


If Rose is invited to be a happy participant in life, and shown what that entails, she will gladly #share her brush, or at least join in on the #fun of #playing with it together!

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