According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), about 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by the age of 18. The risk for depression rises as a child gets older. The World Health Organization even announced that major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans aged 15 to 44.
How would you be able to tell if your child’s changes in mood are transient or whether they are symptoms of an impending depression? Instead of having wishful thinking that your child would not get depression, why not be proactive in encouraging happiness in your child as you are taking care of him/her today?
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten ways to inspire happiness in your child. We are sure that they would help you focus on your child’s psychological wellbeing.
1. Do things that spark energy.
There is nothing better than a good round of fun exercising or games that get you sweating and panting for breath. It has been proven that exercise alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety. It releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins, and reduces chemicals that run in the immune system which cause depression. Moreover, as the body temperature rises, feelings are calmed and your mind stops focusing on worrying
2. Play with variety.
Variety spices things up. Do not just take your child out to the movies all the time, think of other activities that would also guarantee a great family bonding time. There are plenty of options: farms, zoos, museums, beaches, parks, amusement parks and so on.
3. Play music.
Celebrate often with your child by playing his/her favorite music! Whether it’s Disney songs, teen pop, rock and roll or even classical music, blast it on the stereos and have a dance party with your child!
4. Make art together.
When words do not come out, deep emotions can be conveyed through art. In these cases, Play-Doh and a blank canvas could be your child’s best friend. Sculpting clay or drawing lines on a sheet of paper could release depression and become a sort of communication that is more inward-focused.
5. Go back to nature.
How many of us just sit in front of a computer screen for hours and call it a day? Open up you and your child’s eyes to the world outside. As Pocahontas says, “Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest, come taste the sun-sweet berries of the Earth, come roll in all the riches all around you.” That’s right, we all need to learn how to paint with all the ‘Colours of the Wind’.
6. Create a loving environment.
Families are made to be together for a reason. We were supposed to support each other through the thick and thin, to love each other the way they are and to be able to listen to each other even through hard times. Focus on the relationships, not just with your child, but also with your spouse, parents, in-laws. Nurture a loving environment for your child to grow up in.
7. Do not compare your child with others.
Comparison is deadly. It means not looking at all the great things about your child, and only dwelling on the negatives in him/her. Instead of immobilizing your child in criticism, learn to criticize constructively. The key is to calmly analyze the situation and offer suggestions in ways that your child could have done better.
8. Express your confidence in your child.
Recognize that your words have a great impact on your child: whatever you say to them could either build or break. To make your child feel happiest and most fulfilled, instill in them a sense of how much you are confident in them.
Shawn Achor, New York Times bestselling author of Before Happiness and CEO of GoodThink, says, “Children who believe that they have a high potential continue to strive and as a result we get to see more of what their brain is capable of accomplishing. True happiness requires both a gratitude for the present but also a deep-seated aspiration for the future.”
9. Go through struggles with them.
Some kids need more discipline than others. Some are born intellectually or physically challenged. But this does not mean they are incapable of achieving greater goals in life. Stick with them in the process of working through their struggles with them. Do not give up.
“We have to push it,” says Hayley Maclaren, mother of Poppy who is a 2-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy and quadriplegia. “We have to be cross to be kind. Poppy is not happy to spend four hours a day learning how to walk, but I think she’ll thank us very much when she is older. It has been hard for her, but it is important for her to be happy in the long-term.”
Hayley Maclaren, mother of 2-year-old Poppy says that she is a very happy child in general.
10. Encourage. Encourage. Encourage.
Even if your child does not believe in himself/herself, you have to be their champion. “Poppy has a lot of determination and we believe that she could do anything she puts her mind to. She will always have Cerebral Palsy, but we do not want that to be the reason that she says ‘I cannot do that’. She can do anything and we do not want to hold her back,” says Maclaren.
Poppy Maclaren’s parents Danny Maclaren and Hayley Maclaren take her to four hours of functional education therapy each day. They believe that Poppy will benefit from the long-term effects of learning to perform various daily functions independently.
We hope this article inspired you to spark happiness in your child. What are your ideas for raising a happy, healthy child? Let us know by COMMENTING below!