Somewhere along the way, the secrets to a happy childhood seem to have become lost. Parents are filled with worry about all the things they could do better, all the things they wish they could afford for their children, or conversely, how nothing they give their child seems to bring a smile to their face. Parents notice that their children seem to have lost their spark, their faces dull and unhappy, a stream of complaints from their lips, never satisfied with what life has to offer.
But what do our children really need?
The truth is that the requirements for a happy childhood are not secrets at all, they just get overlooked due to their simplicity.
After all, the human race would never have come so far if the perceived complications we think our children need, were real.
Children need to be seen as the unique individuals that they are. They need to experience the joy of freedom, of being able to make their own choices and inventing their own play. They need the freedom to become fully absorbed in their imaginations, and to delve deep in to their play, unhindered by interference. The freedom to honour their body and their individual needs, rather than fulfilling social expectations when it comes to eating and sleeping, will enable them to hold on to their natural impulses and form healthy habits that last in to adulthood.
We were not born to be caged, yet so many children and adults alike, find themselves in a self imposed prison, growing ever fearful of the outside world and its perceived dangers. Our notion of what constitutes good weather rubs off on the impressionable young minds of our children, and the window of opportunity for outdoor exploration grows smaller still.
Creating a habit of daily ventures outdoors in nature, is nothing but beneficial for our children. Imaginations blossom, learning is abundant and exercise comes naturally. For a child who had not yet been instilled with a love of the outdoors, their first few times can be apprehensive and lead parents to question the point of the experience. But those who push through the initial discomfort, breaking away from their usual habits, will discover how their children thrive in their natural environment. Watch as their instincts emerge and their faces come alive!
The most vital ingredient for a happy childhood is without a doubt, connection. Having that one special person who can be relied on to be on their side, who they can talk to and share their thoughts, without fear of judgement or punishment, is so important to the happiness and development of a child. Knowing they have this ally in life will spur on their confidence and prevent the overwhelming feelings of being abandoned and alone in this world, a feeling familiar to so many children across the globe.
It is impossible for us to protect our children from everything that can hurt them, unless we closet them and hold them back from truly experiencing life – but the hurts they do face will be so much easier for them to cope with, knowing that they have support, acceptance and love in their lives.
The fact is that a happy childhood is not based on how much money a family has, or how many toys they are given. Providing the basis for a happy childhood is achievable and free.
What do you think makes for a happy childhood? I would love to hear about your own happy memories from your childhood in the comments below!
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