The Secret to Raising a Happy Preschooler

What parent doesn’t want to see their child grow up happy? But while you might be clear on what you want, you might not be sure of how to achieve it. Here are a few steps that you can take to make sure your child grows into a happy and productive adult:.

Learn to read your child’s emotions.

Babies and toddlers are easier to read because their emotions are immediately mirrored on their faces and reflected in their behavior, but older children like preschoolers have more complex emotions and can sometimes keep their feelings bottled up. Learn to recognize your child’s mental and emotional state by reading the signs that you do see. Happy children smile often, play readily, show curiosity, and socialize with other children. Unhappy children, on the other hand, tend to be withdrawn and quiet, don’t eat much, don’t interact with other children easily, don’t ask questions, don’t laugh or smile readily, and don’t play.

Talk with your child often.

Open communication is essential if you want to learn what’s happening in your child’s life, how they’re feeling, and whether there are any problems that you need to deal with. Talking with your preschooler is also a good way of showing your child that you care and that you’re there for them. If your child doesn’t open up to you or doesn’t seem to want to talk about a particular issue that might be troubling them, try to broach the subject again the next day. Eventually, your preschooler will share what’s on their mind, so don’t give up and be gentle in pursuing the topic.

Set aside time to play with your preschooler.

By playing with your child and connecting with them, you can give them some of the best times they’ll ever have. Take time out each day to goof around with your preschooler and take part in different fun games and activities. Not only would you be creating great memories and grow closer to your child, you’d also be contributing to their continued happiness and help your preschooler develop essential skills through play.

Invest in your child’s health.

Being healthy is the first step to becoming happy. Give your child plenty of physical stimulation, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep. It’s a simple combination, but it’s quite effective. The best way to do this is by structuring your child’s day to ensure that you make proper time for play, rest, meals, quiet hour, and so on.

Teach your child to deal with problems independently.

Letting your little one struggle with a problem every now and then will toughen them up and teach them how to take care of things themselves. A happy child is one that can depend on themselves rather than need mommy and daddy to constantly step in and save the day.

Children need to learn to tolerate a certain level of distress so that they can learn to cope and figure things out for themselves. The amount of satisfaction that your child will get from solving a problem on their own will boost their self-confidence and will give them the skills they need to become happy and capable adults.

Be a good example.

Young children pick up the behavior and habits of their parents, so try to be a good role model to your child by being happy yourself. Smile warmly and genuinely at your child, be optimistic and see the positive side of things, teach your child to be thankful for the things they have rather than being sad about what they don’t have, and try to keep your stress levels low as children pick up on their parents' stress. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to hide negative emotions; it’s alright to let your preschooler see you upset about a certain issue, but teach your child that sadness can be overcome by taking proactive and positive steps to solve the situation and make the best out of it. If you find yourself succumbing to stress or becoming depressed, make sure you seek help, as depressed parents tend to be inconsistent and aren’t good at enforcing structure or engaging in fun activities with their children.

Seek professional help when your child needs it.

Children sometimes experience difficult periods or have a hard time getting through a tricky stage. If you feel that your little one is struggling with something at kindergarten, try talking to their teacher to learn what’s going on at school and determine how best to tackle the problem. Sometimes, a fight with a friend could also be a source of deep unhappiness for your child, so speak to the parents of your child’s friends to see if they’ve noticed any problems. 

You should also regularly evaluate the environment at home, as tension at home could be a major contributor to a child’s distress. If your preschooler exhibits persistent signs of unhappiness, such as crying, constant complaining, anger, aggression, difficulty sleeping or eating, and frequent headaches or stomachaches, consult a child councilor or psychiatrist and have your child evaluated.