We all want our kids to be happy. We try to give them everything we didn't have as a child. We sign them up for sports, music lessons and art classes. We want them to be creative and outgoing. Have a good group of friends and be knowledge. 

Sometimes, this can come at a cost. I see many children in my practice and are overbooked, these days. I think a lot of parents mean well, but push their kids too hard. This can cause a kid to feel anxious or not good enough. Which, I know, as a parent this is the last thing you want.

Children are actually happy by nature. They don't have the pressure of the world on their shoulders. They are able to experience happiness through the small things in life. They enjoy learning and seeing new places. Like, the grocery store, if they haven't been. Enjoy your child while they are still at home. They will grow up quick. Here are five tips that will help make them happy:

  1. Play with your child. Play is your child's language. I mean get on the ground and play with them. Take delight in playing with your child. You can play at the park or play a board game inside. When parents play with their children, it helps their self esteem. 
  2. Allow your children to do things for themselves. This will give them a sense of independence. I know this can be hard sometimes. It will help teach them that making mistakes is alright. Think back to the first time you successfully made cookies or candy. Maybe, it took a few times to get it right. But, in the end you felt good. This is the feeling you want your child to have. It will help them as they get older to try new things.
  3. Set limits for your child. You don't have to be the parent that says yes to everything. Most children don't like to go to bed or to do their chores. This doesn't mean you let them out of it. It's alright if they get upset with you. You're the parent not their friend at this time. You want to teach your child responsibility. Make sure they know what is expected and that you set a schedule. This will help your child feel safe and secure. 
  4. Read to your child. You can read to them at bedtime. Make it part of your nightly routine. They will look forward to it and you will, too. You can also read to them when they get home from school, or any other time during the day. Just, make time for it. This will help them learn and will help create a bond between you and your child. Let them help with picking the stories.
  5. Make time for yourself. As a parent it's easy to put yourself last. You need to spend time doing things that you find fun and fulfilling. Even when you find your time stretched thin, add a little time for yourself. Even if it's only ten minutes. Take a bubble bath, go for a walk or watch a comedy. This will help make you happy. And, what children need most are happy parents.
As a parent, I'm sure you're doing the best you can. Nobody expects you to be perfect. We all make mistakes. I always tell my clients, 'what makes a good parent is a parent that makes mistakes.' This will let your child know it's alright to make mistakes.
Remember, to go easy on yourself. When you had your child it didn't come with an instruction manual. Talk to your friends and family about your children. Don't be scared to let them know what mistakes you've made, and ask for help. A lot of the time they are going through the same thing.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She enjoys helping parents and children through difficult times. For more help, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com.

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Lianne Avila, MFT
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San Mateo, CA 94404

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