Children are like sponges. They are learning all the time. They soak up whatever is happening around them and they do this automatically, without any critical analysis.
We think we influence our children by what we tell them. Of course, this is important. But we influence our children much more by how we say what we say, by what we don’t say, and, most importantly, by what we actually do. In effect, we are communicating to our children every moment of the day, not just when we sit down with them to have a deep and meaningful conversation.
Because children learn so easily, the best way to ensure your children are happy is to be genuinely happy yourself. They will automatically learn from you the skills and attitudes that create happiness.
How do you ensure you are happy?
Happy people are content. They accept life as it is. They have a quiet confidence. They believe they have the resources to deal with the adversities that life throws at them. They don’t waste energy trying change what cannot be changed. They don’t blame others for their misfortunes. They take responsibility for their emotions and know how to move through grief and sadness back to a contented state. They are honest with themselves and with others.
There are two facets that need to be addressed. The internal, how you manage yourself, and the external, how you manage the rest of the world.
The Serenity Prayer is a useful guide for dealing with the world.”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
The difficulty comes when we react emotionally to a situation and struggle to apply the prayer. Here’s an example:
Your son struggles with English. You panic. You believe that his English difficulties will jeopardise his future. Then he won’t be happy and, above all, you want him to be happy.
What should you do?
Investigate your feelings and you will discover you are over-reacting because of something in yourself. Perhaps, as a child or later in life, you failed at something yourself and suffered in some way because of this failure. Perhaps you have a sister or friend whose kids are doing really well and you always felt inadequate compared to your sister or friend.
Now ask yourself, “Do I want to foster my own inadequate feelings on my child?”
If not, start realising that your thinking is faulty. Not having English doesn’t mean your child won’t be successful.
What your son really needs is to be accepted as he is. He does not have an aptitude for English. So be it! Now focus your attention on what he is good at. If you focus on the things he is good at, whether they are academic pursuits or not, you might be able to encourage him to have some coaching in English.
Remember, your son will pick up on any panic in you, worrying and start feeling inadequate himself. Feelings of inadequacy can last well into adulthood. Happiness and feelings of inadequacy don’t go together.
Lead by example. Create happiness in yourself. Examine your emotional reactions so you re-establish a calm state of mind. Be confident and creatively solve any problems that arise. Use the Serenity Prayer as a guide. And have faith in your son’s ability to find his way in life.
The most probable outcome is that your children will be like you.
Struggling with your mental health? North Brisbane Psychologists can help. Book an appointment today!