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Family, Friends & School: The Keys to Your Child’s Happiness
A child’s life consists of family, school and friends. For a child to be happy, certain conditions must be present in each area of his life. This article highlights these conditions so you will know how to help your child stay happy and fulfilled.

FAMILY:
Every child needs a family with at least one adult who will be that child’s mentor, advocate and cheerleader. When children feel desired and important within their family, they have the emotional foundation necessary to lead a meaningful, successful life.

Children feel happy in their family when:
  • They’re hugged, kissed, held, snuggled and told, “I love you.”
  • They learn to do things they couldn’t do before. Nothing makes a child feel more grown-up than learning new skills and becoming more competent and independent with the help of a loving adult.
  • Their feelings are not hurt unnecessarily by their parents’ choice of words. Instead of hearing, “You’re a slob” they should hear, “Your room is a mess and needs to be cleaned.” Instead of “You’re lazy,” tell them, “You haven’t done your chores yet.” Parents are teachers, and good teachers don’t use sarcasm, insults or name-calling.
  • Everyone makes time for fun. Sledding, bowling, flying kites and camping are just a few activities children love to do with their family.
  • They can enjoy close relationships with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces and godparents.
  • They see their parents showing affection to each other.

SCHOOL:
After the age of 5, children spend more waking hours in school than they do at home. So for a child to be happy, school must be a positive experience.

Children are happy in school when:
  • Other children like them.
  • They’re learning, passing tests and getting good grades.
  • Their parents take an interest in their schooling, visit their classroom, know their teacher and attend school events.
  • The self-discipline they learned at home helps them succeed in school. Self-disciplined children can make themselves work and follow rules even when they don’t feel like it.

FRIENDS:
Family and school are important, but a child without friends will not grow. Friendships are crucial if children are to develop confidence, emotional maturity and a connectedness to others.

Children are happy with their friendships when:
  • They can have friends visit their house to play and when they’re invited to their friends’ houses to play.
  • They know they’re desired as playmates.
  • They have interests and skills that other children find interesting.
  • They have the social confidence to follow rules while playing games.
  • They have a best friend. Best friends offer children a special kind of companionship where trust and support are honored.

To find out whether your child’s world is making him unhappy, periodically ask yourself how he’s doing in school, at home and with his friends. Your answer will determine if you have to intervene on your child’s behalf to ensure his progress and well-being.

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist