There may be many issues on which the views of the parents of the world do not coincide. We each have a different way of educating children. But, undoubtedly, most would answer that their greatest wish is for their children to be happy; almost all of us agree on this point. But what is happiness for children? To discover If our children are happy, I really propose the test of the 3 wishes, a simple tool that can give us an idea of how little ones feel.
When defining happiness we could talk about 'a lasting moment of satisfaction, where there are no pressing needs, no tormenting sufferings. '
It is true that there are other elements in the definition of happiness, such as the fulfillment of goals, desires and objectives, But speaking of children, we can leave this aspect in the background, since fortunately they still do not have to worry much about achievement issues beyond school issues (which we should not overvalue beyond what has to do with effort).
Furthermore, as we all know, happiness is subjective and relative. Two children, in this case, under the same circumstances, will not necessarily experience the same sense of well-being, self-esteem, and wholeness.
To be happy sometimes no preconditions are necessary, and thus, there are children who always seem to be happy and feel comfortable with life and with what they have around them; and children who, despite having all the conditions to be well, seem to be always dissatisfied and want more.
For children to reach a state of satisfaction close to what we define as happiness, we must provide them with some basic external conditions such as:
- Basic needs for food, house, clothing, etc.
- Access to education either in the school system or homeschooling.
- Access to medical services.
- Feeling protected and loved by their parents or guardians.
- Values training.
- Environment of respect and harmony at home.
- Healthy school environment.
- Positive social relationships with peers and adults.
- Game and recreation time.
- Parenting style that allows you to feel appreciated at all times.
- There are no major stressors such as a conflictive separation from parents, illness in the family, financial problems, etc.
On the other hand, there certain qualities and skills that are important to foster in children, which allow them to appreciate the things within their reach and feel satisfied and happy with them such as:
- Optimistic view of life.
- Problem solving ability.
- Flexibility and adaptability.
- Frustration tolerance.
- Empathy and sensitivity.
- Values such as respect, solidarity, honesty, etc. that allow them to relate in a positive way with their environment.
Although there are aspects that are given by the temperament, self-confidence and personality of each child, many of the aspects mentioned depend on the environment and the parenting style that in which they are involved, that is why it is very important not to lose sight of them.
A question that I use a lot in therapy to know if a child is in the channel of satisfaction and happiness or, on the contrary, if something overwhelms or worries him is the following:If you could make three wishes (whatever), what wishes would you make?
From your response, we can learn a little more about your personality, your level of satisfaction with your current life, and your worries or stress. Children's responses could be grouped in three ways:
If the child is happy
Of a happy child, we have to wait carefree responses of the kind:
I would wish...
- Have super powers
- A toy or all the toys in the world
- A pet
- An ice cream
- A videogame
- More wishes
- A trip, etc.
If the child is especially sensitive
There are children who in their answers reflect wishes not only for themselves but for others, or general concerns about the world or environmental issues, which lets us know more about his personality and sensitivity:
- May my family always be happy
- That my dad doesn't work so much
- Let no one die
- That there are no wars
- Let there be no more pollution
- That the animals do not become extinct
- That there are no bad people
- That there are no tremors or natural disasters
When something overwhelms the child
However, there are more specific answers with your life situation, which speak to us about a burden or a stressor that is probably taking away the feeling of being happy such as:
- That my mom and dad don't fight
- That my parents have more money
- That my dad is not so angry always
- Have more friends
- Get better grades
- Not having to go to school
- Be thinner
- To be smarter
- Not having nightmares
It goes without saying the type of concern that each of these responses reflects: difficulties in the family, social, personal area, fears, lack of self-confidence, etc.
In all cases, the answers shed light on the inner world of children and are a good compass for know if they are enjoying their life or if there is any issue in which it is necessary to intervene. This is a question that parents can naturally ask their children or design a simple game where each person writes their wishes and thus be able to have this valuable information.
The other way is much more direct and also perfectly valid and consists of asking them directly if they are happy and why.
As parents we do not have control over everything that our children may have to face, however, knowing what is preventing them from relaxing and enjoying their day-to-day without worries is a wonderful first step to act on those issues that we can modify, help them face those we cannot and seek professional help from those who are exceeding them, to continue doing the best that is in our power on the path of teaching them to enjoy and be happy.
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