Tuesday, 6 February 2018

What am I teaching my kids about happiness?

What am I teaching my kids about happiness - Jane at the gate

A report just released by Barnardo’s last week, found that school causes nearly two thirds of children to suffer from stress. A third of pupils are unhappy at home with a quarter are concerned about their weight. Sad isn't it.  Only two days ago I was writing about poor mental health in parents and now I'm writing about it again.  But maybe, that's the point.

There are an estimated 10% of children that have a diagnosed mental health condition in the U.K but there are bound to be many unidentified or having difficulty but haven’t hit the point or been able to access a diagnosis. The latest research report from the The Children's Society says that girls are particularly affected by their mental health, citing peer pressure and, rather worryingly, a dissatisfaction with their own looks as key issues.

Just under a year ago, Lord Layard, a government adviser for mental health training in schools, trialled weekly ‘happiness classes’ which were based on mindfulness for eight year olds. He said there was an obsession with measuring only academic achievement in schools. A thought in some ways echoed by Dr Brian Cox in the news around the same time. The famous TV science presenter suggested that science should be a joy, an exploration and back to the idea of learning through play, often a way of experimentation. Not simply about passing tests.

The pressure of raising both happy and successful kids feels truly enormous. I think much of the time the two terms are used interchangeably or considered a prerequisite for the other. You can't be a success if you're not happy, and you can't be happy unless you are successful? Do I teach my kids this?

I myself fall into the trap of connecting success, and possibly happiness, with achievement and maybe even worse, financial value.

I'm a busy person. Our home, and our three children with their different needs and different schools keep me busy. I fit in some charity work and of course there's the blog.. but I also still do a small amount of part-time teaching. Partly this is because I enjoy it and I feel more like ' just me' but there's a small part that's linked to the fact that it's one thing I do that brings in actual money. It brings my negative financial contribution to the household up a bit.

The truth is my contribution to the home and the children has very little to do with my part time earnings.

My value and indeed my happiness should not just be tied to my earnings or financial achievements.

Just as a young girls happiness should not be directly tied to her looks or a child's directly related to their test results. Of course everyone wants to be accepted and do well, but these are effectively self or society determined criteria for happiness.

Sometimes the happiest person in our home is David, our autistic son, who without wanting to limit my aspirations for his academic future, arguably is most challenged in terms of his acceptance and learning.

And that's because he takes infinite joy from his current situation. I'm in the car - yay! I'm on the trampoline - yay! I’m playing my favourite programme on an iPad - yay! In a way his outlook is quite inspiring. I think it's possible he's a pretty good example of a happiness class all by himself and one I should adopt more often, if not for me, then for the example I will be setting for my kids.

As Tolstoy said "If you want to be happy, be"

What do you think?  What makes you happy?

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this. I am especially passionate about helping children with their wellbeing and this highlights the need beautifully. Thank you.

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  2. A beautiful reminder of what matters and how our values and behaviour influence our children, thank you. Health and happiness is everything xx

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  3. Tolstoy has it right! Just simply, be. It is a mindset. xo #TriumphantTales xoxo

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  4. back again, from #brilliantblogposts xo

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  5. Just perfectly put and perfectly written. Thanks for sharing this with #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again on Tuesday!

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  6. When we discuss transformation of the physical body, to be successful we cannot deny that mind, body & spirit are woven tightly together in our being & therefore EACH needs to be considered - not just one.Nandrolon

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  7. All these ingredients come in a high quality white ceramic mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Children will learn about baking, creating something that they have never made before, and having fun at the same time.Automobilines kedutes

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