Small Talk

Raising Stronger and Happier Kids Today

April 23rd, 2012

We all want children to be happy and grow into productive, fulfilled adults, and according to parenting expert Maureen Healy, the secret to that success is in providing a foundation of inner confidence. Healy, a popular columnist for Psychology Today and the PBS Series, This Emotional Life, literally traveled the world in search of the best practices in raising inwardly strong children, and the connection between inner confidence and lasting happiness.

Her new book, Growing Happy Kids, draws on her Buddhist training, her background in child psychology, and the latest scientific research. Her book is packed with guidance and ideas to help parents achieve success raising kids who are strong and confident.

She offers seven specific action plans parents can take to create inner confidence and cultivate a sense of emotional strength that lays the foundation for children's happiest lives:

1.         Build Confidence Daily (even for 5 minutes!): It is the everyday things we do with our children that help them feel stronger, and happier no matter what. So you may say affirmations together on the way to school (they are captive here!) or read a bedtime story every night that teaches about your child’s power within - the point is that small things done over and over again really build your child’s sense of strength.

2.         Get Them Moving: Children need to move their bodies and get their energy released in a healthy way. Because physical activity, eating right, and a good night’s rest are the biological basis of your child’s emerging sense of self-confidence. Also, be sure they do something they love from making a garden to becoming a soccer star. (Let them pick it!)

3.         Sign Them Up for 1 Weekly Confidence Building Activity: Your child’s weekly confidence building activity may be a sport like soccer or something else like singing lessons. Most importantly, they need to see themselves succeed (really important) and also have a regular way to see themselves master a task thus building outer then inner confidence.

4.         See Success Together (visualize, affirm, meditate, pray, and sing): Oprah always says that if you can believe it, you can achieve it. So help your child believe more fully in him or herself. Perhaps it is doing affirmations together like “I love me” and “I am amazing in every way” or doing a guided meditation, singing a song that sparks them up or drawing a vision board. Let your creativity loose so you both become more self-assured. Have fun with this!!!

5.         Get Inspired: Do something inspiring together whether it is going to see magnificent waterfalls, flying a new kite on the beach or learning hula-hooping. By doing something that lights your child up, they learn how to build a new skill and you’ll see their confidence soar.

6.         Create an Uplifting Space: Decorate your child’s space so they see happy photos of themselves, their awards displayed, goals (or vision board) hung up and they have their favorite things all around them. By making the space feel good to your child they’ll realize this world is supporting them, their dreams can come true and everyone wants to see them succeed. (Feng Shui can help too!)

7.         Play More: Happier children know the importance of play whether they are outdoors helping their parents’ garden or playing tag with their peers! So the more you help your child build skills, see their power within and play in their daily lives the happier they’ll be.

4 Responses to “Raising Stronger and Happier Kids Today”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    This essay was all about how to help kids be happy and self-confident with high self-esteem. However, kids also need to learn to be realistic. They need to discover their physical and mental limitations and learn to be happy despite those limitations. The stress on self-esteem has caused a lot of trouble and unhappiness for kids and all who come in contact with them when kids finally grow up and face the real world. Haven't we all seen TV news reports where a young man has murdered someone, and Mom tearfully says "I just don't understand it; he's a good boy."

    Should every child in a sports competition be given a prize or trophy? Should students be given passing grades just to protect their self-esteem, even when their performance has failed miserably?

    There was a time when I was a high school mathematics teacher. One girl in my 9th grade class often did not do her homework, and did very poorly on tests. When it was time for quarterly report cards I gave her an F. Her father was the school superintendent. The day after report cards went home Dad spoke with his friend the principal, and both of them came to my classroom DEMANDING that her grade be changed. Dad said she had never gotten an F before (I can guess why!). Dad said she was crying herself to sleep and refusing to eat. I tried to persuade Dad (with principal listening) that he and his little girl should face reality; and that it is better for her to experience failure while she is still living in the safety and nurturing environment of home, instead of having her first failure occur after she goes off to college or gets a job she cannot handle. Superintendent and principal became very angry, and put a lot of pressure on me to change her grade. I refused. And the following year I checked her transcript to make sure nobody had changed the F I had given her. I was ready to make a big deal out of it; but luckily the grade remained unchanged.

  2. kuunakanaka:

    aloha Diane:

    i'm all 4 playing more. play is important so i get down on my knees and play with them. i got to make myself available to them.

  3. M:

    Hello Diane,
    I don't know what I did raising my 2 kids but my daughter, 25, has done well. She graduated honor roll in HS and made the deans list at UH manoa. Played softball for 4 years on the varsity team in HS, has a good job with the DOE and surfs almost everyday.
    My son graduated honor roll too in HS, Played 4 years on the soccer varsity team in HS and is a freshman at HPU with a 4.0 GPA. People has ask me how did I do it and I don't know. I just been involved in everything that they did and was always there for them and still am.

  4. che:

    I have no kids but I think the author just wants parents to be positive with their kids and to create an evironment for them to gain self-confidence. It's not about them winning all the time but to not be afraid to try new things and that failing at certain things is not the end of the world.

    Ken Conklin, I agree with you on not giving every kid a trophy in sports and have seen my share of parents who feel their kid can do no wrong and that's bad for the children.

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