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Could You and Your Child Be Happier?

Aug 9, 2008
One of the most important tools you need as a parent or educator is to understand who children are and what they need from you in order to be happy and successful. Most likely the tools you have are based on the conventional wisdom of our culture and how you were raised. You may want to do what your parents did or be determined not to repeat some of their mistakes.

You may believe you will be a good parent or educator if you follow the conventional wisdom of our times. You may believe that if most parents or educators you know are using certain strategies and approaches with their child and students, you may decide it is the best and correct thing to do.

What I've found is that conventional wisdom is often based on misconceptions and misunderstandings about children. You may believe that your child is doing well because he is mostly well-behaved and is getting good grades in school, but what I've discovered is that often parents do not realize how their child is feeling emotionally.

Children who seem to be highly successful in school often feel pressured and stressed to perform. Often children who appear to be confident on the surface live with fear of what others think of them.

When you look around, you see many people in our society who are not happy, even the ones who seem on the surface to have things all figured out. They struggle to make ends meet, to manage their time, and to have loving, joyous relationships with the people in their lives. Here are some frequent problems that occur when you follow conventional wisdom about raising a child.

Many parents feel stressed and frustrated relating with their child. They don't enjoy these wonderful young people who are a part of their life as much as they could. Parents struggle to get their child to listen to them and to do what they say. Other common challenges also include meltdowns, lack of cooperation, and communication that fails to connect with their child.
Many children are hurting emotionally in both subtle and obvious ways. In 2005, 15 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants for children and teenagers.Suicide rates doubled for children 5-14 years old over the past 20 years.

Surely it makes sense to consider what is happening emotionally with young people and with ourselves. These problems did not suddenly appear because children are now born more flawed. These problems are indicators of the increasing emotional struggle and pain children experience in our high-pressure, emotionally-insensitive culture.

I find it hard to comprehend that we have so many emotional challenges and pain in a culture that is considered to have one of the highest standards of living anywhere in the world. There is an inconsistency between our material abundance and our lack of emotional joy and connection.

If conventional wisdom were working, adults and children would be happier. People would enjoy their lives more, and there would be less conflict and upset feelings. Families would live with greater harmony and loving connection.

To improve this situation, it is essential that we make our children's emotional wholeness a priority. When you learn to observe the signs of how your child is doing emotionally, you can help your child sort out difficulties before they become more challenging issues to resolve in the future.

Here are some suggestions to help you step out of conventional wisdom and to create more happiness for yourself and your child.

1. There was a bumper sticker in the 60's that read, "Question Authority." This simple advice is as timely today as it was then. When you think for yourself and follow your own inner guidance, you stop looking outside yourself for your answers. You find your answers from within yourself.

2. Observe and become more aware of what works in the long term, not just in the immediate moment. When you act based on your frustration in the moment, you often react from your emotional upset instead of responding with clarity and insight.

3. Look for new solutions to repetitive unpleasant patterns. Repeating the same behaviors over and over again will likely get you more of the same.

4. Challenge conventional wisdom and think outside of the box. This requires courage, creativity, optimism, and commitment. Doing what's always been done seems to be so easy. Instead, decide to think for yourself and consider new possibilities. You'll be amazed by what you can discover.
About the Author
Connie Allen, M.A. of Joy with Children. Connie helps parents and educators who are unsure how to best empower their child. . For information on how you can nurture the joyous inner spirit of children, subscribe to her free e-newsletter "Joy with Children". Visit her blog.
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