Every child is unique. As a parent, you need to be flexible and adjust according to your child's personality. You should not try to love and handle your children as equally as possible. This will be difficult as children need to be loved and treated uniquely. For example, a child will always compare and want the same things as his sibling. If he is given a pair of new sports shoes because he is taking part in a sports event, this does not mean that you must also buy a pair for the sibling who is not taking part. Your child needs to be taught that the cannot always seek equality but should seek what is fair. You should also teach your children that life is not always fair.
An important part of being a parent is training your child to be useful. Quite often, parents are so busy that they focus mainly on helping their children in their studies and telling them what is right or wrong. Your children can be taught responsiblity by being given responsiblity.
The best time to start is when he is about two to three years of age.
Dressing Up: As soon as he is able to put on clothes(Customink.com is a custom apparel company servicing schools, small business, sports teams and events.), let him do it. The result will be jumperss back-to-front and ludicrously unsuitable combinations of clothes. His pride in the achievement is far more valuable than your pride in his neatness and tidiness. Instead, we should congratulate him and sometime later, try to correct his wilder flights of fancy.
Tidy Children's Room: Children are capable of tidying their rooms from about three onwards, but they need help -- otherwise they become discouraged, or distracted by toys. Turn tidying-up into a game, but allow them a room or a corner where their mess is tidied up only once a day. Constant clearing away of toys, hats, books, shoes, and so on also clears away their fantasies, their imagination and, consequently, their learning capability. These are two examples of tasks your child is capable of doing from young. He is capable of putting toys away and he can progress to greater responsiblities such as keeping his toys away evertytime he finishes playing, and keeping the toys neatly.
By the time the child is in primary school, he can be responsible for putting his cups and plates away. If your child is not having any responsibility, start with some of these. For my children, I always have them to help out in hanging their own socks and handkerchiefs, folding the household clothes and towels, sweeping the floor and wiping the dining table.
Training your child to be responsible needs to start with what he can do at home. If he cannot do this, it is very difficult to get him to be responsible for his homework. He needs to see that responsiblity starts with the things that he needs and uses. Otherwise, he would not see any reason for doing homework whihc he does not need or care.
Families with maids sometimes face the difficulty of getting the child to do things. Therefore, the maid needs to be told not to do such things for the child. There are also some parents of older children who do everything for the child like preparing breakfast, washing his shoes and so on because they want the child go spend more time on studies than on housework. This is common if the child is a boy because it is sometimes felt that boys should not be troubled to do housework.
It is a good idea for parents to teach their children at an early age that all family members must work together to make the household run, and that each person must do his or her share of the work load. This can be done by beginning a program of chores and responsibilities when children are young.
Chores are beneficial for children - even very young ones. Being responsible for doing chores teaches children many important skills such as cooperation and responsibility. Chores also teach children about fairness and commitment. The skills and values learned by doing chores will benefit children throughout their lives.
The English language belongs to the western sub-branch of the Germanic branch, which is itself a branch of the Indo-European family of languages.
English Language, primary language of the majority of people in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, other former colonies of Britain, and territories of the United States. It is also an official or semiofficial language of many countries with a colonial past, such as India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa. Even in countries where English is not a primary or official language, it is taught as a foreign language and used as the language of technology and diplomacy. English is spoken in more parts of the world than any other language and by more people than any other language except Chinese.
Facts About English
English is the most widespread language in the world and is more widely spoken and written than any other language.
Over 400 million people use the English vocabulary as a mother tongue, only surpassed in numbers, but not in distribution by speakers of the many varieties of Chinese.
Over 700 million people, speak English, as a foreign language.
Of all the world's languages (over 2,700) English is arguably the richest in vocabulary; and that the Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words, and a further half-million technical and scientific terms remain uncatalogued.
Three-quarters of the world's mail, telexes and cables are in English.
The main language used throughout the world on the internet is English.
More than half of the world's technical and scientific periodicals are in English.
English is the medium for 80% of the information stored in the world's computers.
English is the language of navigation, aviation and of Christianity; it is the ecumenical language of the World Council of Churches.
5 of the largest broadcasting companies in the world (CBS, NBC, ABC, BBC and CBC) transmit in English, reaching millions and millions of people all over the world.
Speaking and reading English well is essential for success in America.
Under No Child Left Behind, the academic progress of every child will be tested in reading and math, including those learning English. All English language learners will be tested annually to measure how well they are learning English, so their parents will know how they are progressing. States and schools will be held accountable for results.
Research shows that students who can't read or write in English have a greater likelihood of dropping out of school, and they often face a lifetime of diminished opportunity.
Language, written and spoken is very important and should be taught to children starting at a very early age. Parents are the primary educators of children's speech
How to teach the English language:
* Help children understand that speech can come in the form of writing. * Develop children's understanding that writing is a message in the form of print and that print is constant. * Show that written language is often different from spoken language. * Teach that numbers, letters and words are different. * Show the difference between a letter, a word and a sentence. * Help children understand that a letter or letters represent a sound within a word. * Show them that words form sentences and sentences form messages or stories.
Spoken and written text understandings:
* Always write a sentence or sentences under children's drawings. * Encourage children to write their own sentences and name. * Provide writing areas like a white board, a chalk board or scribbling posters hanging on the wall. * Use pictures often to explain and express situations. * Encourage children to draw pictures and simple diagrams about key events. * Stay on the topic when speaking and keep children focused. * Provide hypothetical situations to predict, generalize, imagine and discuss situations.
* Introduce word games and play oral word games. * Draw children's attention to patterns in words and sentences. * Provide ample opportunity to extend children's knowledge of word meanings. * Expose children to a wide range of vocabulary. * Make children aware of gender and collective nouns, synonyms, antonyms, homophones and contractions. * Show suffixes, prefixes and word parts.
Though apparently simple, English is in fact subtle and complex, containing pitfalls for those who haven't grown up with it. Some nationalities find great difficulties in grasping the language and its pronunciation. To learn English there are many online resources available nowadays. Anyone can learn English at home in front of their computer.
College costs are on the rise – how will you finance your child’s college education 5, 10, or 20 years from now? Planning for a child's education isn't as simple as it used to be. With the costs of a college education rising every year, the keys to funding your child's education are to plan early and invest shrewdly. Today's options offer more potential, but must be chosen carefully. Depending on family income and other factors, it's important to make these decisions as early in the child's life as possible.
The cost of private school and college tuition and expenses can burden even the most affluent of families. The best way to help meet these costs is to create a college funding strategy and choose the option that best suits your family. Remember the need to insure your ability to help pay your child's college expenses. Your ability to provide financial support is important. Should you die, life insurance can help replace the loss of your income and fulfill your dream for your children's future.
Here are 5 ways to fund your child's college education.
1. From savings. This means that the parents have extra savings in their bank account to provide for the children educational funds.
2. Your child can work his or her way through college. This means that the students have to work and study at the same time.
3. Your child may obtain a scholarship or be entitled to grants from either federal or local funds towards the cost of their college education.
4. Take out an education savings plan to fund college education. This is normally provided by insurance company and the plan can start as soon as the baby is born.
It is never too soon to begin planning and saving for a child’s education. You can start when the child is born by segregating gifts of cash and securities in a separate account to defray tuition costs later. Education planning should not stop once the child starts college, as tax savings opportunities continue to exist while the child is in college and even after college.
5. Your child may have the opportunity to take out student loans to fund their college education.
Today the vast majority of students are forced to take out student loans to fund all or part of their college education. Usually to subsidize parental contributions, student loans are the most common way of students funding their own college education. Many students however, leave college with substantial debt and even with interest rates at historically low levels today's students can expect to have to pay substantial monthly repayments for many years.
There are a number of options to fund your child's college education but the only way funds can be guaranteed is by you taking out an education savings plan. With the education savings plan you decide what you can invest and your child can also contribute to his or her college education. With luck scholarships and grants will still be available as will loans to top up if necessary. If your child does not go to college the fund can be cashed in.
Taking out an education savings plan early will give your child the real opportunity of a college education and the best prospects for a job when they leave college.
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he Montessori method is both a methodology and educational philosophy. It was originally developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori as a way to educate poor children in her native Italy. Many Montessori schools are preschool or elementary school in level, but there are some Montessori programs which have all grade levels up to and including High School.
The Montessori method emphasizes the uniqueness of each child and recognizes that children are different from adults in the way they develop and think (they aren't just "adults in small bodies"). Dr. Montessori believed in children's rights, the value and importance of children's work to develop themselves into adults, and that this development would lead to world peace.
The Montessori method discourages traditional measurements of achievement (grades, tests) as negative competition that is damaging to the inner growth of children (and adults). Feedback and qualitative analysis of a child's performance does exist but is generally provided in the form of a list of skills, activities and critical points, and sometimes a narrative of the child's achievements, strengths and weaknesses. Deficiencies in one area are treated as places to improve, not as failures.
The Montessori method is based on observing young children and learning from them about their characteristics and needs. Universal characteristics of children are recognized for each level of development: the first is birth through 6, the second is ages 6-12. Montessori classroom for the first level is called the casa dei bambini, or "children's house," where each child is nurtured and guided in individually-paced learning and development. As children enter the second level, they become peer-oriented and learn best in a social environment, collaborating with others, and "cosmic education" is introduced to expand their awareness and develop as citizens of the community and the world.
As an educational approach, the Montessori method's focus is on the individuality of each child in respect of their needs or talents, as opposed to the needs of the class as a whole. A goal is to help the child maintain their natural joy of learning.
The Montessori method encourages a great deal of independence, freedom within appropriate limits, which is always linked with responsibility. The youngest children are guided in "practical life" skills towards taking care of themselves, maintaining their environment, and interacting gracefully with others. Integral to the practical life activities are essential skills such as focusing of attention, hand-eye-body coordination, and the students' ability to accomplish what they set out to do.
The Montessori Method states that satisfaction, contentment, and joy result from the child having access and guidance to be full participants in daily activities. There are also attractive and enticing materials with which the child gains a foundation for academics and other skills. Montessori education carried through the elementary and high school years follows the child's emerging tendency for peer interactions and still emphasize each student as guardian of his or her own intellectual development.
Premises The premises of a Montessori approach to teaching and learning include the following:
A view of children as competent beings capable of self-directed learning.
That children learn in a distinctly different way from adults.
The ultimate importance of observation of the child interacting with his environment as the basis for ongoing curriculum development. Presentation of subsequent exercises for skill development and information accumulation are based on the teacher's observation that the child has mastered the current exercise(s).
Delineation of sensitive periods of development, during which a child's mind is particularly open to learning specific skills or knowledge, including language development, sensorial experimentation and refinement, and various levels of social interaction.
A belief in the "absorbent mind", that children from birth to around age 6 possess limitless motivation to achieve competence within their environment and to perfect skills and understandings. This phenomenon is characterized by the young child's capacity for repetition of activities within sensitive period categories, such as exhaustive babbling as language practice leading to language competence.
That children are masters of their environment, which has been specifically prepared for them to be academic, comfortable, and allow a maximum amount of independence.
That children learn through discovery, so didactic materials that are self-correcting are used as much as possible.
Independent problem solving is encouraged.
Goals The goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child-centered environment in which children can explore, touch, and learn without fear, thus engendering a lifelong love of learning as well as providing the child the self-control necessary to fulfill that love.
Criticisms A wide range of conflicting criticisms have been leveled at the Montessori method. Some parents believe the Montessori environment leaves the children too free while others see the Montessori method as stifling to creativity. Some see Montessori schools as elitist prep schools for preschoolers while others question Montessori teaching priorities, and decry children spending time on such menial tasks as washing tables or arranging flowers. Some parents are put off by what they view to be Montessori teachers' unusual manners: some may appear too subdued, others too stern, none of them necessarily praising or teaching the children in a conventional manner.
The two primary critics of the Montessori Method in education theory are William Heard Kilpatrick and John Dewey. They thought that Montessori was too restrictive, and didn't adequately emphasize social interaction and development. Dewey believed that the Montessori Method stifled creativity.
Another criticism of Montessori schools is that they do not traditionally assign homework. The lessons taught in a Montessori classroom are not generally conducive to home use, and the materials are highly specialized. It would be unlikely that a parent would buy materials for this purpose. Critics allege that a child who transfers to a traditional school and is required to do homework will have trouble adjusting, although research has shown the opposite. Homework in some form has started to find its way into the Montessori curriculum, if in a somewhat forced manner.
For many years Montessori schools in North America did not believe in marking students according to letter grade system, and instead issued report cards that focused entirely on descriptions of the student's behavior and progress in class. Many parents complained that such report cards made it too difficult to get a clear picture on how well or poorly a student was doing in their subjects. As a result, some American Montessori schools now issue letter grades just as non-Montessori classes do.
Within the Montessori professional community, there have been squabbles ranging from minutiae to the core principles of the philosophy. Those from one training background may believe another is too strict or outdated while others are accused of diluting Montessori's scientifically derived vision of ideal environments to support human development.
Landscape With Children By A Brook By Francis Danby "Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society." ~ Maria Montessori, Education for a New World
Montessori is a nurturing process of educating children. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that a child learns best within a social environment that encourages individuality.
The child in a Montessori class is allowed to develop at their own pace intellectually. What is made available to the child are the keys and a road map to the exploration of the world. The child is shown a basic concept and is guided to build on that idea. Arranging groups of objects from left to right, top to bottom, large to small, concrete to abstract, forms a pattern that children carry over naturally to reading, writing, and calculating. These are not haphazard events; each skill is developed to interlock with another. The child learns each segment at their own pace, and moves on to the next as each one is mastered.
Montessori is a highly hands-on approach to learning. It encourages children to develop their observation skills by doing many types of activities. These activities include use of the five senses, kinetic movement, spatial refinement, small and large motor skill coordination, and concrete knowledge that leads to later abstraction.
The classroom A Montessori classroom is quiet, bright, clean, well-maintained and attractive. Nothing should be torn, broken, dirty, or otherwise unattractive. Furniture is child-sized, and there is no teachers' desk. The typical classroom consists of four areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, and Mathematics. Practical life includes activities such as buttoning, sweeping, pouring, slicing, tying, etc. Sensorial includes activities to stimulate and train hearing, touch, smell, and taste.
Most Montessori classrooms try to include ways for the children to interact with the natural world, perhaps through a classroom pet (rabbits, gerbils, mice, etc.), or a small garden where the children can plant vegetables or flowers.
In schools that extend to the upper grades, each Montessori classroom still includes an approximately three-year age range in order to establish a non-competitive atmosphere in the classroom. This system allows for children to review work as many times as necessary and to move rapidly through the materials as they are able, as well as allowing children to become natural teachers by sharing what they have learned. The children realize that class work is different for each person and are less likely to try to keep track of where other children are academically.
Pedagogical materials Every activity has its place in the classroom and is self-contained and self-correcting. The original didactic materials are specific in design, conforming to exact dimensions, and each activity is designed to focus on a single skill, concept or exercise. All of the material is based on SI units of measurement (for instance, the Pink Tower is based on the 1cm cube) which allows all the materials to work together and complement each other, as well as introduce the SI units through concrete example. In addition to this, material is intended for multiple uses at the primary level. A perfect example of this is the "Knobbed Cylinder" materials: not only do they directly offer a sensorial lesson, but indirectly the child's grip on the cylinders paves the way for holding a pencil, and the grades of cylinders allow for an introduction to mathematics.
Other materials are often constructed by the teacher: felt storyboard characters, letter boxes (small containers of objects that all start with the same letter) for the language area, science materials (e.g. dinosaurs for tracing, etc.), scent or taste activities, and so on. The practical life area materials are almost always put together by the teacher. All activities, however, must be neat, clean, attractive and preferably made of natural materials such as glass or wood, rather than plastic. Sponges, brooms and dustpans are provided and any mishaps (including broken glassware) are not punished but rather treated simply as an opportunity for the children to demonstrate responsibility by cleaning up after themselves.
At higher grade levels, the teacher becomes more involved in creating materials since not only the students but also the potential subject matter widens so much. However, many of the earlier materials can be revisited with a new explanation, emphasis or use; for example, the cube that a five-year-old used as an exercise in color matching is revealed to the junior-high level student to physically embody the mathematical relationship (a+b)3=a3 + 3a2b + 3ab2 +b3.
Lessons A child may not work with an activity until the teacher has demonstrated its proper use to him or her, and then he or she may use it as he or she wishes (limited only by his or her imagination or a danger to the material, himself or herself or others) Each activity leads directly to a new level of learning or concept. When a child "plays," he or she is acquiring the basis for later concepts. Repetition of activities is considered an integral part of this learning process and children are allowed to repeat activities as often as they wish. A child becoming tired of the repetition is thought to be a sign they are ready for the next level of learning.
The child proceeds at his or her own pace from concrete objects and tactile experiences to abstract thinking, writing, reading, science, mathematics. For example, in the language area, the child begins with the sandpaper letters (26 flat wooden panels, each with a single letter of the alphabet cut from sandpaper and affixed to it). The child's first lesson is to trace the shape of the letter with their fingers while saying the phonic sound of the letter. A next level activity might be the letter boxes (small containers each with a letter on the top, filled with objects that begin with that letter). Having mastered these, the child may move on to the word boxes (small containers each with a short three-letter word on the top, for example CAT, containing a small wooden cat and the letters C, A, T). One child might move through all three levels of lessons in a few weeks while another might take several months; although there is a prescribed sequence of activities there is no prescribed timetable. A Montessori teacher or instructor observes each child like a scientist, providing him with appropriate lessons as he is ready for them.
Home schoolers may find both the philosophy and the materials useful since each child is treated as an individual and activities are self-contained, self-correcting, and expandable. Aspects of the Montessori Method can easily scale down to a homeschooling environment - save, of course, Montessori's requirement for large, mixed age groups of children.
Reading is very important. It is not only important to children, it is important for every individual on earth. Reading helps one to become an informed citizen, to succeed in one's chosen career, and to have a better personal fulfillment.
Reading aloud is a time-honored tradition between parents and children, especially in their formative years. This will have lifelong impact on the child's learning experiences, developmental progress, and even social interaction skills later in life. For example, even during infancy children are able to pick up on things as complex and subtle as the intonation in their parents' voices.
Reading to your child is also a great way for a parent and child to spend time together, especially at the end of a hectic day.
Children who read well do better in other subjects and in all aspects of schooling and beyond. Children who read frequently have more knowledge, they can write better and they have a better vocabulary than a child who don't read at all. As the world becomes more complex, reading is increasingly important for children trying to find their place in it.
When to start Like always, as early as possible! Six or seven month babies like to watch pictures and colours. You could start with hardbound or cloth books to introduce the concept of books, turning pages and handling the book in general.
The market is flooded with books for all age groups today. You can even find online stories available at some websites! As soon as your child sits in one place for five minutes you could introduce storytelling. Start with short stories with colourful pictures and then move on as your child starts to enjoy the storytelling sessions.
Even though she may not understand the story or poem, reading together gives your child a chance to learn about language, enjoy the sound of your voice, and be close to you. Be vary of people, including grand parents, who would repeatedly warn you that its too soon to introduce books to the 'baby'. Insist this is the right age and soon your child will prove you right!
Make it interactive Try and set aside a fixed time of the day when you can give your full attention to reading with your child. Start by choosing a cosy and comfortable spot and a favourite book. Clear all distractions, like music, television etc.
Read slowly so that your child can form a mental picture of what is happening in the story,
Which books to choose Though this may vary from child to child choose short stories with lots of pictures. Stories that are too long or have too many characters might confuse the child. If your child is scared of ghosts, monsters etc avoid stories involving them. For preschoolers, try to pick stories with clear-cut endings. While it's important to avoid titles that are completely over your child's head, encourage your child to pick slightly more advanced books for his age. Experts also add that parents must choose books they enjoy.
After you read Talking about books you read is just as important as reading them. Discussing a story or a book with your child helps your child understand it and connect it to his or her own experience of life.
One great way to improve your child's reading comprehension is to ask questions about the story later on. Having your child exercise problem-solving skills, draw conclusions, and form opinions prepares them for the real world in many ways! Go somewhere inspired by your books. This helps bring your child's stories to life. If you've just read a book about the zoo or market place visit one so that the child can relate to the story in a better way.
Make sure you have fun Though there are techniques and methods to read to your child, make sure that you do not stick to the rules at the cost of enjoyment for the child.
Tips to encourage your child to read
Set a good example. Let your child see you reading as often as possible; there's no better way to convey a love of books.
Have 'library time' at home, where in all the members of the house sit in one room with a book in hand for 5-15 minutes everday depending on the liking and time available.
Encourage relatives and friends to give your child books as gifts.
Take your child to the books library regularly and if possible have an independent library for him/her, where she gets to pick the books of his/her liking.
Surround the child with books. Make sure you don't buy expensive books, or else they will find their way to cupboard under lock and key. Instead pick some from the local raddiwallah and let them handle the books independently. Hardbound or plastic coated books are also a good option.
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Whether you are a parent now or you are still single, or you are married without kids, in the eyes of your parents, you are always their kid and a kid to them. No matter you are in your 30s or in your 50s, and your parents are in the 70s or 90s, you are always a kid in your parents eyes. Your parents will always love you and treat you like a kid. And you, as a 'kid' knows where to seek 'love shelter' when you are lonely and needs someone to talk to and seek comfort. Your parents are always there for you whenever you need their help.
As parents, we also want our children to have the best of everything and we want our children to enjoy their life. Life is full of stress and so many times, family members are so obsessed with their own work and studies as well. It is during special occasion and special holidays where we can find excuse to take a break from all these busy schedule!
Within a year, there are hardly many occasion or holidays which you can celebrate. Some of which could be Christmas (but that would only be celebrated by Christian), Hari Raya (celebrated only for Muslims), and Chinese New Year (celebrated by Chinese). What about common occasion where we can celebrate? To name a few, Wedding anniversaries, Birthdays and National Day are something in common where people can take time off to have some fun and spent time with the family and children.
Whether you are celebrating your own wedding anniversaries, or whether you are celebrating your children's birthdays or birthdays for any members of the family, or even celebrating a wedding for your grown-up 'kid', we need to have a program organizer. We need someone like a DJ to entainment the guest and to amuse the guest. And the we, the host, can have a peace of mind, to enjoy ourselves and to socialize with our guests at such a rare meeting. Of course, if you don't intend to make the celebration a grand one, a DJ is unnecessary at all. A grand celebration like wedding would require you to hire a DJ.
Depending on your requirements, the job of the DJ is to assist you in your celebration of any kind, ensuring a smooth operation and everyone got the best of entertainment. There would be music played to add on to the special occasion.
I think it would be a great idea to have a grand celebration for our 'kids' on his/her 21st birthday. We want to spent every single minute of our time with our children and we want them to know that they are being loved. On this day, they have reached adulthood and we want to spend the very last day of 'childhood' with them.
In order to really have a fun time and have a peace of mind, I would like to book for a DJ or a program organizer. On this day, I do not want to worry about entertaining the guest with music or things like that. I want to be in the crowd, enjoying too. I would rather have the DJ to look after these for me. There is always 'a kid in everyone of us'. On this special day, won't it be nice, to have fun and to feel young again?
Childhood memories is just so precious for us. We know that time can never be reversed. We can only cherish our memories and to share them with our kids. As we know the importance of childhood memories, we also want our children to have the best childhood memories, a unforgettable memory of childhood spent with the family. So, whether you want to celebrate your 'kid's' 21st birthday or celebrate your 'kid's' wedding, have a grand and unforgettable one, it's just once in a life time. Once it is over, you can never have it again. And remember, we are forever kids. We are God's kids!
One of the most frequent comments I get from parents is “I just want my kid to be happy.” Though an admirable and common objective, happiness is one of the most neglected family values in twenty-first-century America. Few parents grasp the essential meaning of happiness for their children and fewer still understand how they can help their children to find it.
Parents’ efforts at helping their children gain happiness are undermined by the distorted messages that popular culture communicates to parents about happiness; that happiness can be found in wealth, celebrity, power, and physical attractiveness. Yet research and anecdotal accounts of people who have these attributes show that pursuit of these “false idols” can actually cause unhappiness.
By understanding how happiness develops, you can help your children find true happiness. The real causes of happiness are all within your children’s control so they can actively do things that foster their own happiness. Self-Esteem Self-esteem is a powerful contributor to happiness. Self-esteem gives children a sense of security from which they can engage the world, which enables them to approach life with confidence. Self-esteem also offers children a strong sense of competence, in which they view themselves as able people who can master important aspects of their lives. This faith in their abilities facilitates success, which can cultivate happiness. It also reduces worry and anxiety, which can cause unhappiness. Positive Attitude We’ve all seen children who just have a great attitude about things. They’re positive, optimistic, and hopeful. They see a world filled with sunlight and warmth rather than clouds and cold. These children tend to be happy because they see the “glass half-full,” meaning they expect good things to happen to them. Children with positive attitudes are also more likely to express gratitude. Children who appreciate the opportunities they’re given and convey genuine gratitude to those who help them have been found to be happy people. Passion Another essential contributor to your children’s happiness is a passion for something in their lives, be it writing, soccer, or another avenue. Passionate children are happy children because there is something in their lives that they absolutely love to do. Children’s passions engage, absorb, and thrill them. For example, the reader who savors every word of the books she reads or the cellist who listens to Yo Yo Ma for hours on end. Just being involved in any way in the activities for which they have a passion makes them happy.
Popular culture doesn’t want your children to be passionate about their lives. It wants your children to connect to things that make it more money, for example, a passion for video games and shopping. In a short time, children get bored with their purchases and need to buy more stuff in the misguided belief they will feel passion for them. Parents exacerbate this dependence by choosing the expedient route for entertaining their children—handing them over to popular culture—rather than finding activities that engage their children, from which they might find a passion. Balance The unhappiest children I work with are those who lead unbalanced lives. They spend most of their time in one activity and their self-esteem is based on how they do in that activity. The problem with devotion to one activity is that things will not always go well, there will be times when children have setbacks and failures, and they will experience boredom, disenchantment, and frustration. If the one activity is all that your children have to feel good about themselves, you are at risk for unhappiness.
Popular culture wants your children to be imbalanced. Children see young stars, like the soccer player, Freddie Abdu, or the actress, Hilary Duff are told by popular culture that they must sacrifice balance and, for example, join “all-star” traveling sports teams or take piano or dance classes five days a week to become superstars. Children who are out of balance are at risk of falling over—metaphorically—and being very unhappy.
Balanced children derive happiness from many outlets, for example, sports, involvement in spiritual or cultural activities, or reading. Children who have balance in their lives will still have experiences where things don’t go well, but, because their self-esteem is not based solely on one activity and other parts of their lives bring them happiness, they’re still able to maintain their happiness. Be a Human Being Popular culture doesn’t want to raise human beings. Instead, it wants to create “human consumings” whose primary purpose in life is to spend and devour. Human consumings buy, buy, and buy in the mistaken belief that it will bring them happiness. You can observe ravenous young human consumings every day in the malls, buying clothes and shoes “they absolutely must have!”
Happy children are human beings, not human consumings. Being involves children finding happiness not in things, but in experiences, relationships, and activities that offer meaning, satisfaction, and joy. The ability to just be grounds happy children in who they are rather than what they own, and gives them control over what brings them happiness.
Relationships One of the most robust findings in the research on happiness is that people who have strong relationships tend to be the happiest people. The opportunity to give and receive love, friendship, and support from family, friends, schoolmates, and others is essential to happiness. Positive feedback from others—love, respect, encouragement—is the most readily available source of happiness. Social relationships may also reduce stress, increase feelings of security, and generate other positive emotions, all of which are conducive to happiness.
Popular culture doesn’t want your children to have healthy relationships. It preys on isolated and lonely children who are desperate for any kind of connection with others. Children who have good relationships have less of a need for attention, stimulation, and acceptance. They’re less vulnerable to appeals from popular culture that may make them feel important or popular. Giving to Others We often look for happiness in the wrong places. We’re preoccupied with looking inside ourselves to find happiness with psychotherapy, meditation, and self-help books to uncover our internal obstacles to happiness. Or people look for happiness outside of themselves in the form of consumerism, drug and alcohol use, and other forms of gratification. But happiness can’t be found down either of those roads.
Your children will ultimately find happiness outside of themselves, by giving of themselves to others. There is something profoundly nourishing about putting others’ needs ahead of our own and helping others find happiness. Giving to others somehow touches us in a very deep way and provides a feeling of meaning, satisfaction, and joy that can’t be found elsewhere. In putting their own needs aside to help others, children’s own deepest needs are met.
About the Author: Jim Taylor, PhD, is the author of eight books including his latest, Your Children are Under Attack: How Popular Culture is Destroying Your Kids’ Values, and How You Can Protect Them (Sourcebooks, March 2005), from which this article is adopted, and Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child (Hyperion, 2003). He has worked with young people, parents, and educators for 20 years. He has been a consultant and frequent speaker to numerous elementary and secondary schools, youth-sports programs, and performing-arts organizations around the country. Dr. Taylor has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, Fox New Channel’s Fox & Friends, UPN’s Life & Style, ABC's World News This Weekend, and major television network affiliates, and has participated in many radio shows and national print publications. Sign up for Dr. Taylor's free quarterly newsletter, Kids & Culture Alert at www.drjimtaylor.com.