When asked what they want for their children, the majority of parents will answer “to be happy”. Sounds simple…but is it? What does “being happy” mean? Is it being continually in a state of joy? Is it more of a general contentment? Is it not being faced by difficulties? Perhaps we, as parents, look back at the difficulties we have faced and guess what we might have done differently to avoid them happening – maybe we could have worked harder for our GCSE’s (or O levels if you are as ancient as me!), maybe we should have chosen different A levels, gone to university, not gone to university, gone to a different university, had ballet lessons from age 4, learnt an instrument, practised an instrument more, chosen a different career path with a bigger salary, chosen a different career path with a lower salary but with more personal time….I’m sure you get my drift. Quite understandably we are very aware of the regrets that we have and the rose-tinted view of how life would have been perfect if only we had made a different choice. There are four important points here:
1. You would have always faced challenges no matter which choice you had made…the challenges may have been different ones, but they would have been challenges all the same.
2. A generation’s worth of time has passed since you were the age that your children are now. Life is very different. Many jobs that were available when you were a child no longer are and many jobs now exist that didn’t back then.
3. This one is really, really, really important – your children are not mini versions of you. What they enjoy, want and choose in their lives is likely to be different from you and from each other. Trying to ‘encourage’ your child into being a doctor, lawyer, musician, teacher, accountant, etc. because that is what you wish you had chosen is likely to result in unhappy offspring.
4. Your child will face difficulties, challenges and problems – no amount of trying to protect them from challenges, smoothing things out for them or making their decisions for them will stop life’s natural flow of good, bad and neutral.
There is however, something that you can do to enable your child to be happier and to thrive both now and in the future…enable them to pick up the tools that allow them to deal with difficulties, to face issues with the mindset that they are capable of finding a solution, to see problems as challenges, and to know that they will get through and come out the other side having built more skills. These tools are things like growth mindset, hope, creativity, resilience, reflective thinking, perseverance, compassion, emotional understanding and emotion regulation. These are the tools that will serve your child well for a lifetime.
At Amazing Minds CIC we are so passionate about these skills that we have made a short programme of activities to develop them completely free of charge during this lockdown period. We are also passionate about learning being fun and learning being a lifelong activity. So not only have we created enjoyable and engaging activities for the children, we have also created some for the parents! This challenging time in lockdown is the perfect opportunity to get playful and creative with wellbeing and build those tools with your children that will allow them to surf the waves of challenge!
Access our free programme here