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A happy child plays, exhibits curiosity, shows an interest in things and other children; an unhappy child tends to need constant attention, they are withdrawn, quiet, and don't eat much. They tend not to get involved with other children and don't ask questions or speak very much. However, if you have a shy child who doesn't interact a great deal, that does not mean they are unhappy. Being shy is not being sad.
P. Hollinger notes there are nine inborn signals that babies use to communicate feelings. The following signals can also be spotted in toddlers and are good pointers to how happy the toddler is.
- Interest - a positive feeling
- Enjoyment - a positive feeling
- Distress - a negative feeling
- Anger - a negative feeling
- Fear - a negative feeling
Dealing with Children and making them happy
Play - Toys, expensive clothes, lashings of ice cream: do these make children happy? Perhaps in the short term, for an hour or two, but what really makes them happy is having fun with parents, grandparents or their childminders. When they have fun and play games and laugh with you, that play creates joy. It also helps with their imagination, creativity and relaxation.
Talents - Help children develop their own talents. If they are good at something, they will feel happy about that. If they like modeling, keep some cartons and lids and let them create a robot out of boxes. If they like drawing, then let them make a picture and hang it on the wall. Help them master a skill and see how happy they will be.
Let them do what they want - Within reason, this is an important lesson for parents to understand. No matter how much you want them to learn piano, if they don't want to then they won't enjoy it. Try not to push them to do things they aren't interested in. Listen to their own ideas. If they are talking about going to football, rather than ballet, then give it a try. And, try not to stick to gender prejudices. Girls can play football, boys can do ballet!
Healthy bodies - To enable the children to play and run and enjoy life to the full, give them a healthy diet. With good food, and lots of sleep they will have the ability to really tackle tasks and situations with energy. Give them lots of time to run around.
Sad time - Being a bit sad is okay so don't try and shake them out of a mood if they are feeling a bit down. They need to be independent people and able to gauge their own moods. You can encourage them to explain how they feel and try and explain or get out of the mood together.
Be a Good Role Model - Children pick up on moods and are sensitive to other's feelings so try to be positive in your own mood and outlook. They will pick up on this and it will influence their own behaviour.