"It's the little things that matter": What makes kids happy?
In our bid to please our kids, we sometimes lose sight of the little things they love the most. Mums, you'll want to read this heart-warming article for sure!
The other day, my husband and I were at the beach with our kids. We let the boys wander off a short distance by themselves because they importantly announced to us that they wanted to go on a “dinosaur adventure”.
We soon noticed our older son – all of five years old and crazy about dinosaurs – running towards us, followed closely by his three-year-old little brother. I panicked for a moment thinking something was wrong until I saw these huge grins on their faces.
They stopped in front on us and my older son extended a clenched fist… he was trembling with excitement and his eyes were sparkling with an uncontained glee. “Guess what I found?” he asked me, and then unclenched his sandy little hand. “It’s a T-rex’s tooth!” he exclaimed, showing me a tooth-shaped piece of white rock.
My husband and I ooh-ed and aah-ed over the “tooth” and congratulated our little palaeontologist wannabes. Later, my older boy told me that it was “the best day ever”.
I started to think about what makes kids happy.
Like me and my husband, all parents do things for their children without thinking twice. We buy them the toys and clothes they ask for and we take them to their enrichment classes every Saturday without fail. We throw them awesome birthday parties (often planned months in advance) and we coach them through their homework every day.
But what really puts a smile-from-the-heart on your little one’s face? Is it the “big” things like knowing about the effort you put into finding that perfect afterschool activity? Or is it something smaller, like seeing you come to pick him up after same activity?
1. Reading makes the heart and soul dance
Kids these days depend way too much on electronic devices for entertainment. So, the next time you see those little heads bowed over an iPad or those bright eyes staring at the TV, turn the devices off. Then, grab a great book, settle down together on a comfy couch and read away together.
Reading to your children is not just a great bonding activity. It also boosts their language and listenings skills, and teaches them that there’s really nothing as exciting and entertaining like getting lost in the pages of a good book!
2. The beauty of communication
Child development experts highlight good parent-child communication as key to building self-esteem and mutual respect. But sometimes, with all the work and chores we cram in to our days, we simply forget to communicate with one another – including our children.
So, set aside time each day to just talk to your kids. This could be before they go to school, on the way to school in the car, bus or train, after school or just before bedtime. Talk to them about anything and everything that you think is appropriate: school, family, love, kindness etc.
My own ritual is to read my kids a story at bedtime and then ask them to talk to me about their favourite and not-so-favourite parts of their day. This is a great way of encouraging open communication and reinforces the idea to kids that they can approach you with anything – be it good or bad.
3. Individual focus
Sometimes when you have more than one child, you may find all of them clamouring for your attention at the same time. The result? You lose it and end up not spending quality time with any of them.
To avoid this situation, experts recommend setting aside “alone time” for each child if possible. According to Kyla Boyse of the University of Michigan Health System,
When you are alone with each child, you may want to ask him once in a while what are some of the positive things his brother or sister does that he really likes and what are some of the things they do that might bother him or make him mad.
This will help you keep tabs on their relationships, and also remind you that they probably do have some positive feelings for each other!
4. It’s the little things that matter
According to neuroscientists as explained in a Time article, “hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves.”
Given this, you’re probably not going to make your child smile by seriously telling him that you just spent a whopping amount of money getting them into “that” preschool or school.
What will put a great big smile on your little one’s face are little things like seeing you laughing or happy, or when when you kiss him and tell him you love him to the moon and back. What is bound to make him smile is when you dance with him to his favourite song, give him a giant bear-hug or take him piggy-back riding.
5. The sun, moon, wind and stars
Has your child ever seen a velvety night-sky full of twinkling stars? Has he seen a rainbow, a chrysalis, tadpole or wild flower?
Let’s not let our children forget about the beauty of nature. Remind them not to take our planet for granted and teach them the importance of caring for it. Take them on nature walks. Show them insects and plants. Let them feel the roughness of bark, the smoothness of a petal, raindrops on their nose and the wind caressing their face.
Teaching your child to appreciate nature in this way will ensure he grows up to be a considerate and responsible person, and is equipped with the skills to become an “educated thought leader of tomorrow.”
Mums, your kids see the world with a sense of wonder and amazement that adults have long since forgotten about. Why not take the chance to view the world in this way again through the eyes of your child?
Enjoy the little things while you can, because in your child’s eyes, they are bigger than the universe.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Do share with us some of the little things that make your kids happy by dropping us a note in the comment box below.