If you could make one change in your child’s life to make them more happy, or more fulfilled what would that change be? Would it be to have more money, more toys, more holidays, more sleep? Or would it be less? Less screen time, less school pressure, or less peer pressure? There are all sorts of ways we can think about our children’s happiness and often we think of it is terms of more or less. If we had more of X, Y or Z they’d be happier. Or if there was less P, Q or R then they would be more fulfilled. But it is a question that every parent asks at some point. What can I do as a parent to make my child more happy and fulfilled?
When we think about our children’s well-being, it’s worth asking the question about what we actually mean by wellbeing. Is it the same as happiness? That’s not an easy question to answer. And if you have more than one child, is the key to wellbeing the same for each of them? Probably not! I work with a lot of internationally mobile families who move around the world, sometimes changing country every two or three years. I find myself asking whether the well-being needs of children in those families are in some way different to those who stay in one location.
Over the next month I will be sharing a series of blog posts designed to help parents think about this idea of well-being for their children. As a starting point, I encourage you to take the time over the next week to think about what the well-being of your child really means to you. What is important to you, and what do you think they need to remain happy and fulfilled as they mature and grow? Are you on the same page as your co parent? Your partner? Your extended family? I will also be exploring the role that the school plays in your child’s wellbeing. For the vast majority of children, school occupies a huge place in their lives – and that has implications for how you understand and support your child’s wellbeing.
Going back to that first question – what would you change – did you figure out an answer that works for your child? Maybe. But, if you didn’t, please don’t worry. One of the toughest jobs of being a parent is figuring out how to help our children become happy and fulfilled. I don’t think there is a parent in the world who doesn’t think about it as an ongoing worry. The good news is that there is so much we can do to be intentional in helping our children become genuinely happy and fulfilled.