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curiosity, shows an interest in things and other children; an unhappy child tends to need constant attention, they are withdrawn, quiet, and don't eat much.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.
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.
Could it be that some children born happy while others not? Some children certainly seem happier than others even if they come from the same family, so can it be that some children are going to be happy from day one and others will always be moodier or more inclined to be unhappy?
If they fall over, some children laugh and others burst into floods of tears. When they wake up, some laugh at the sunny morning and jump out of bed. Others turn over in a moody shrug. If they don't get their own way some get stroppy and remain miserable for hours. Others just move on to the next activity and forget about it. Why is this?
Some scientists would say that yes, some children do have a tendency to be happier than other children. However, it cannot be proved beyond doubt. Wherever your child is on the happy/sad spectrum, the important thing is to be aware of how they might respond in certain situations and react accordingly.
Child psychologist Dr. Lise Eliot, Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, maintains that happiness is a state of mind, a mood, rather than an inborn trait. However, certain aspects of a baby's temperament (shy or bold for example) will play a role in determining how happy they are. And, it is this emotional information that is embedded in the brain.
This doesn't mean to say that if your little one is scared of going to pre-school, or nervous of new people that they will be unhappy later in life. Not at all. In fact nature and nurture play an equally important role in the first years of a child's life. Just because a baby's temperament (confident or reserved) may be determined by nature, it doesn't mean it's permanent. Nurture plays a very important role too and those early traits can be modified and honed down with careful parenting. The end result is personality... a blend of the two.
Personality is controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain. We feel good things in the left frontal cortex and bad things in the right, according to scientists. It is said that people with happier dispositions have more activity in their left frontal lobe.
So, spot any signs of unhappy tendencies and deal with them. Support a nervous child; try to tame a bold child; nurture a nervous child and try to guide them to be rounded, happy and creative individuals.
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