Albert Schweitzer said, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success."
Dr. Chris Baker's book, REAL, reveals successful strategies for raising healthy, sane and responsible children.
The best way for a parent to teach his child to share is for the child to see the parent sharing with others. (Wikimedia Commons photo)
A child learns courtesy and good manners when he or she sees their parents being courteous.
Dr John Rosemond's book, New Parent Power! is a great resource for parents who want to raise responsible children.
As parents, we all want our children to be successful. We strive to help our children become “successful” so they will be “happy.”
But - as Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”
Scientists studying the psychology of happiness have discovered that:
• Happiness isn’t genetic.
• Happiness isn’t luck.
• Happiness isn’t dependent on our circumstances.
• Happiness is created by us.
• Happiness is created by simple disciplines practiced every day, over and over.
• And, unhappiness is created by errors in judgement repeated over and over.
Now we know it is our parenting behaviors that help train our children to be happy. And their happiness will lead to their successes.
So what are these things that we do that work to train our children to be happy?
1. Simple Daily Disciplines - Yourself!
Learn, practice and train yourself to practice simple disciplines every day, over and over. Let your children learn from you that you are grateful. Let them learn that you do kind things for others, not just for them. Let them learn that you eat well, exercise and stay fit. Let them learn most of all that these simple daily disciplines occur over and over.
A recent article from Harvard University, points out that “the result you wish to see in your child comes from the effort you put into yourself.” Your children will mimic and learn from you.
2. Show Encouragement and Compassion for others - all others.
Children have to see and hear their parents caring about and for others. From the time a toddler is just beginning to get the idea that we want them to “share”, they need to see their parents encouraging other children and other adults, as well as them.
Children need to see their parents being compassionate of others -
* holding a door for the next person,
* picking up trash as they walk (take a plastic bag to put over your hand),
* say thank you - and mean it,
* give genuine compliments to people you meet,
* praise others every chance you get,
* write handwritten thank you notes -
* focus on the person speaking to you - NEVER on your phone while they are talking,
* and teach your child to do so.
Give EVERYONE you meet the gift of your smile, ask about the other person’s family, or work, or children. Let your children see you care very much about the others.
3. Always, Always, Keep High Ethical Standards - did I say always?
Let your children see that you have good manners, graciousness, humility, and above all, honesty. Let them be able to trust that what you say is what you mean.
Counting, “I’m gonna count to three…” merely means that you don’t mean what you say until you get to three. Saying, “I promise you,” means that if you don’t say that, you may not mean it. Earn their respect and trust. Of course they will learn that we are all human, yet they will be so proud of an honest and trustworthy parent!
4. The Big and Real Picture is Inside
As things happen around you, and TO you, let the children see that the only things that matter are the things that happen IN you. In other words, help them learn that it is not what happens, but how you look at it, and how you take it.
Be the victor, not the victim. Let them see that when hard things happen, you work to accept and to use it as a lesson. Make every day a day of victory!
5. Allow Problems to Happen and Allow Your Child to Solve those Problems.
We never “wish” hard things on our children, of course not! But the reality is that life has lots of challenges, and since your child will encounter these many lessons, childhood practice coping is critical..
Doing pediatric dentistry and orthodontics has taught me how fortunate is the child with a parent who helps the child cope with the dental situation. This is especially true if it seems hard for the child.
I have seen over and over, the incredible result in how well a child copes when the parent is matter-of-fact and believes their child can handle it, and stays right beside the child to just “be there.”
The most successful appointments are those with parents who tell the child “You can do it. I’m here with you,” and then the parent goes on to talk with us, holding the child’s hand, but not over-focusing on the child. And guess what? The child believes the parent - the person they trust the most - that it’s all ok.
The child may cry. The child may worry. But the child will get through it ever so much better than if a parent is worrying and saying, “It won’t hurt - I promise!” (How does the parent know? “Hurt” is a very personal definition - don’t “promise” such things!)
Allow your child to solve the problems, and to learn to cope with the challenges!
What are some things parents of happy children (who become successful adults) DO NOT do?
We can develop “happy habits” and help our children to do so as well! We can teach them how to be happy. And they will be happy for a lifetime!
Happiness is created by simple disciplines practiced every day, over and over.
Unhappiness is created by errors in judgement repeated over and over.
For more reading:
Link to Forbes article on crippling parent behaviors.
Five Things that Parents of Successful Children Do and Five Things that Parents of Successful Children DO NOT Do
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
Text and images
© 2019 Dr Chris Baker