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10 Simple Steps To Helping Your Child Cultivate A Joyful Life

10 Simple Steps To Helping Your Child Cultivate A Joyful Life

Being a kid is serious business nowadays. Times have changed and kids today can be almost as stressed out as their working parents.

In this day and age, many people would give anything to have a child that was not stressed out, but wouldn’t it be great if you could help your child cultivate a joyful life? Is it possible?

Yes, it is!  So much of life is about learning. Kids watch us and emulate us even when we are not at our best. Kids do learn to be stressed and unhappy so the truth is they can learn to create joy for themselves and others.

Here are 10 simple steps to set your child up so that he or she can cultivate a joyful life.

1. Be joyful yourself.

On My God! Is that what I really said? So much easier said than done right?

The fact is that children do learn from us. They learn which objects, people, attitudes and viewpoints are important in life by watching how we react. If you are stressed out, they become stressed out and it never dawns on them that there can be another way of dealing with the situations that cause stress.

You, yourself living a stressed out life can cause them to believe that being stressed out is normal and that this is the way you have to be to be an adult. In order to give a child a good example of how to deal with life, you have to handle and reduce your stress to manageable levels.

The first step you must take on the road to managing your stress is to realize that some stress is a normal part of life but if you are stressed out all the time, that is not normal and something must change. You must handle your lifestyle and make the necessary changes.

If you are stressed out, sit down and figure out the exact reason why. If it is your job, what can you do to change the situation? If you have tried to change it and found that you could not, look for a transfer or look for another job. So many people have a huge fear of changing jobs. But if your job is stressing you out, what better lesson to teach your child than to have the confidence in yourself to make the changes in your life to make it better?

Being in a situation that creates stress in you affects your confidence insidiously and in a very negative way. If you are afraid of changing, chances are that the stress has worked heavily on your confidence, and how you feel about your true abilities is NOT reality.

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In every situation in life, you have made it through somehow. Have confidence that whatever happens, you will find your way.

Many times, stress in our lives stem from the people in our lives. This brings me to my next point.

2. Teach your child to detect and avoid negative people.

I cannot put too much emphasis on this statement because in life, the biggest cause of unhappiness is being around or intimate with negative people. Negativity is a cancer that permeates a family or a group. I am sure you can think of a time you were perfectly happy and until you were around a negative person. You left either angry, sad, or feeling some other negative emotion didn’t you? That is what happens.

Children, unfortunately do not have a lot of choice in who they spend time with. Make sure that they are not forced to spend time with negative people and whatever you do, do not allow a negative person to take care of your child.

In general, negative people tend to be more irresponsible and when things go awry, tend to blame others. If your child is unfortunate enough to have a negative person as one of his or her teachers, ask for a transfer. If your daycare provider is a negative person, get a new one. Go through your list of the people with whom you associate and identify the negative ones. Then, eliminate or severely limit any association with these people for yourself and your child.

Part of your duty as a parent is to safeguard your child’s environment. His environment includes the people around him or her. If you can’t get the negative people to stop being negative, get them out of your life. Just this simple step alone, though sometimes difficult, can smooth out the roughest and most stressful life.

It is worth taking the time to do this step thoroughly. Do not allow yourself to be made guilty and manipulated by these people either. Many of them are great at making you feel  guilty but realize that they have a choice in life. They can continue to be negative and harmful or they can turn around. It is up to them, but you and your child should not be around this type of person if they refuse to change. The damage they inflict on the unsuspecting is very great.

This goes for anyone negative in your environment, relatives, teachers, doctors, anybody. There are good people everywhere. They are easy to find. Seek those people out and cultivate friendships with them. You will all be happier, and being around happy and successful people makes you more happy and successful.

3. Teach your child to help others.

Helping others is one of the purest joys in life. There is no joy like watching a person become really happy and knowing we did something to make that happen. Even the littlest children will bring you gifts just for the privilege of seeing you smile.

When I was a kid, I used to stop at a tree on the side of the road on my way home from school. Every day I would pick up an autumn leaf. I would look and look until I found the prettiest one, then I would pick it up and take it to my mom. She would stick them on the fridge and we would be sad when they dried out and fell apart.

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One day I came home and found that she had taken sheets of wax paper and ironed the leaves between them preserving the leaves forever in time.

I was so happy because I knew that those leaves were so special to her that she wanted to keep them. Even though I was a small child, I realized that I had given her a great gift just as she had given me one by taking the care to preserve them. It didn’t take long before our fridge was so covered in wax paper and leaves that I had trouble opening it.

4. Show your child the beauty in every day things.

Everywhere in this world, there is beauty. Perhaps we don’t notice it as much any more but I am sure there was a time when you woke up and could not wait to get outside, or a time when you stopped to admire a beautiful view.

As I have gotten older, I have never stopped looking at the autumn leaves. The trees can be so beautiful when they are dressed up in their autumn best. Sometimes, I will take walk and look at people’s gardens. Did it ever occur to you that people plant gardens in their front yard just for you to see and enjoy? Point this out to your child. It may be a new idea to him that someone would work so hard to give joy to strangers.

Everywhere you look people create beauty and wonderful effects. There is music all around us. There are funny people whose joy in life is making others laugh. There are people who dress up every day with the idea that they are going to give everyone who looks at them a treat for the eyes.

Notice these things and point them out to your child. If he sees that they are important to you, he will decide that they are important to him. He will create a habit of noticing the things that make life so precious.

5. For Gosh Sakes Don’t be soooo serious!

Find things every day to laugh about! Get an hilarious movie and laugh yourself silly! Get out the crayons and draw really goofy things! Let your imagination go wild! Laughter and joy go hand in hand. If you develop a serious side, you are robbing yourself and your child of joy. It is true that we cannot be joyful all the time but I really do believe that we take the serious thing way too far.

I have found that I get a lot more productive when I am having fun than when I am serious.

When was the last time you took out a coloring book and a fresh box of crayons, you know the new ones that have points on them and are all in one piece? I teach music to kids and we use crayons daily.

A few days ago I bought myself a new big box of crayons! I opened it up and smelled it. Remember when the smell of new Crayons was a big deal? Now all I needed was a really good coloring  book and I was all set! Yes, I am a grown up! You want to come over and color with me? It’ll be FUN! Bring the kids!

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6. Teach your child that a day of honest work feels GOOD!

Kids naturally want to contribute to the betterment of everyone around them.

Teach them some basic skills they can use to help you and let them do it. They will be happier! Every so often you can teach them a new skill.

I am sure that kids think that food sort of magically cooks itself. How would it be for them to know how to make something simple like toast or a grilled cheese sandwich? Teach them safety and keep an eye on them but let them go at it!

7. Teach your child that working to get things is way more satisfying than having them given to you.

I had a nice chat with one of my wonderful friends yesterday and she told me about a friend she had when she was growing up. This friend was always beautiful and received a lot of attention from men. She had married three times and each time the man in her life had given her everything she wanted, cars, furs, jewels, everything and each time she had divorced them. These were good men but the mistake they made was contributing to someone without expecting something in return.

That contribution does not have to be a material thing, it can be love, nice meals, a clean and comfy house, music played when he is relaxing, anything that makes someone’s life better.

When a person only receives and never gives, he or she is miserable and they don’t know why.

My friend told me that his was a lesson for her early in her life. She knew that it was not the receiving of items that gave her joy, it was the fact that she had worked for them and made them happen.

Think about it. Was there something that you worked hard for and finally achieved? Wasn’t that victory extra sweet? I have found over and over again that things given to us that we did not work for, are just not as cherished as those we really worked to try and get. Creating this mind set in your child will make his life joyful.

I have known many people who suffer greatly because they have a mindset that makes them firmly believe that they should be given things that they have not worked for. They have no idea that, in order to be happy, they must contribute in some way back to the person who has contributed to them.

This is just how life works. If we take and never give, we are miserable. On the other hand, if we look for ways of giving to and serving others, we are happy. Those who do this are the happiest people I know.

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Those who don’t will never know the feeling of achieving a goal that they have set for themselves and worked hard to realize. And sooner or later, other people get tired of giving without receiving anything in return. Ultimately our success or failure starts and ends with us. There is no one that can give it to us and the happiest people I know fully realize that and embrace it.

8. Help your child adopt a pet and teach him how to care for it.

Having a pet is one of the big joys in life. Knowing that there is a living thing that depends on you for its survival is very empowering and it fosters compassion in a child. Make sure your child knows how to care for his pet and always double check the food and water dishes because good habits take time to create and you don’t want your child to learn the hard way that pets die when they are not cared for. Teach your child but have his back!

9. Take time off!

Your obligations will be there when you return. Get someone to cover for you and take some time off to spend with your child. Better yet, make time every day where you just enjoy each other. Some of the most fun times I had was playing Candyland over and over again while my son beat the pants off me at it. (Honestly how many times can a person land on Mr. Plumpy? Are those dice rigged?)

I also loved having my kids, fresh out of the tub and in their jammies sitting with me on the couch as we watched 101 Dalmatians for the millionth time.

10. Hug your kids wherever and whenever you can.

While they are little, our kids hug warmly and with abandon. When my littlest was young he hung on me all the time. Everywhere I went, he was there in my arms or holding my hand. I look back and see photos of us everywhere, arms entwined and smiling. I took it for granted. Who knew that simply being in constant physical contact was the cause of so much happiness?

Before long, the hugs became more reserved and we no longer hold hands or wrap our arms around one another. I no longer ruffle his hair as he passes and he no longer lays in my lap begging for a back rub. He is a man now, not a little boy.

I miss it a lot. I would give anything to rock him in my lap all bundled up and smelling like baby shampoo just one more time.

Take these hugs and this love given so freely and without any inhibition. Kids learn all too soon that affection given so generously can result  in broken hearts. Perhaps our unconditional acceptance of this love and these hugs can in some way form a protective barrier for our children from life’s most unforgiving realities.

This love and these hugs we receive from them are gifts far beyond any gift we will ever receive. Take them, cherish them and give them back. You and your child are a loving team and many times, in this life of hard edges and sometimes harsh realities, you need to come back together and rebuild the strength that comes from your closeness with each other.

I hope I have given you some helpful information. Above all else, your child loves you devotedly. Don’t turn your back on this gift or minimize it in any way. It is the most important thing in your life. It is your greatest source of joy.

XO Chris

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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