We all want our kids to be happy and to grow up into happy adults. But life isn’t always filled with sunshine and roses. With each generation there seems to be more stress and different ways for kids to internalise their worries. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to teach our children how to have a positive attitude and set them up for being a happy child, and a happy adult?
When Usha Chudasama contacted me to review her new book, Your Happy Child: 10 Proven Steps To Raising A Happy Child, I was already feeling the pressure of life and deadlines, but I also wanted to start taking the steps to help my children not end up in the same situation. Usha is a child and adult psychotherapist and runs both a private clinic as well as being a school counsellor. She concentrates on positive psychology and in this book she is sharing her knowledge with all of us parents guardians and teachers.
Your Happy Child focuses on ages 5 to 11, which is perfect for my own children, and I was also interested in it because I have a university degree in child and developmental psychology.
This has been a difficult book review for me because these past few weeks I haven’t been feeling terribly happy myself. But these are feelings I don’t want to my children to have when they are older. It isn’t fun and I hate that they see me like this. This is all the more reason to help my children learn the tools that can help them relax, feel good about themselves, and have a positive mental attitude.
I wanted to read through it all myself first before starting with the children. I also wanted to feel more positive myself as it’s hard to teach happiness when one isn’t feeling it themselves; it seems hypocritical. Now that I’m starting to feel more positive, I can begin to work through the steps with the children.
Ten Steps To a Happy Child:
My Happy Child is presented in 10 steps. Each one has some background information, some things to look out for (such as specific words and behaviour), and there is an exercise to work through with the kids. The chapters are outlined with resources, warm-up, activities and games, appreciation and reward, and an ending.
- What is Relaxation and Why Should we Relax?
- Happiness is a Choice and how our Brains Work.
- Creative Visualisation.
- Develop a Positive Mental Attitude.
- Identify Negative Messages.
- Negative to Positive: Flip-Switching.
- Exploring Our Emotions: Anger.
- Dealing with Our Emotions: Fears and Worries.
This book will help children learn about their own feelings and how to turn how to flip-switch negative thinking into positive and not see life as all or nothing.
It took me until university to go see one of my professors and learn some bio-feedback techniques to help with stress, and that was invaluable. But teaching these skills to children at a much younger age is amazing. Learning how to relax is very important, as I’ve personally discovered this month.
Usha was born in Kenya and raised in the United Kingdom. Her grandparents were important figures in her life, and she has been able to combine what she has learned personally and professionally into a programme that can be done at home, or in a school setting. And these techniques are not just for children – they are also very useful for adults as well. Children younger than 5 may not yet be at an age to really understand the concepts needed, but certainly with a little adaptation, teens could also avail of these techniques.
Of course, no one can guarantee a happy child; your child may need more support, such as counselling depending on their circumstances, and it’s important to keep this in mind. We like to think we can be all things for our children, but sometimes an expert, or someone who isn’t so close to situation may be called in for a period of time for backup.
My son (9) already likes the idea of meditation. Two days ago he was becoming very frustrated at trying a new skill. When I turned around (because things are rather quiet), I found him sitting in a comfy chair, legs crossed, fingers up, looking relaxed with his eyes closed. He was trying to calm himself down and regain his focus to prepare himself mentally to continue on with his challenge. When he was done, he got up and completed the challenge with vigour and determination. He did what 30 minutes previous he never thought he could do. This just goes to show how taking a few moments focusing on the positive side can do!
I am going to go back to the exercises in My Happy Child, and make use of the notes I’ve made in the margins while the children and I start to work through the exercises. Having a happy child by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around will be a great gift to us all! You are meant to work through one exercise a week; and each exercise doesn’t actually take too long to do. Perhaps half an hour initially, then just a few minutes a day to put it into practice. Even in our busy lives, spending that 30 minutes peacefully with our children to help them invest in their own futures is certainly worthwhile!
Thanks to Usha, we will be able to teach our children how to calm themselves and focus their energy into being happy with things as they are right now.