The 7 Habits of Having Highly Happy Children…
thoughts from the teacher in room 102
Shaista Kaba Fatehali
I sit here writing this from the desk of my classroom in room 102. It is 3:43 pm. All the children have gone and I can sense the faint footsteps of staff walking by down the hallway. It is so quiet and peaceful. If I close my eyes, the humming sound of the vent in the background is all I hear; which is the exact opposite from an hour ago where 19 kindergarten and grade 1 students scattered themselves all across the room.
Whenever people realize that I teach Kindergarten and Grade 1, they first look at me as if I have lost my marbles and then ask “ How do you DO that? You must have the patience of a saint!” I reply with a smile and say “ I do LOVE my job!” Of course there are times ( many, many times), when it can be challenging but I have to say that our days together are filled with lots of laughter, love, connection and above all- happiness.
You might be reading this thinking -Happiness? Really? To this I say: YES!! It is totally, completely and utterly possible to have 19 little happy children most of the time. ( I’m not going to lie and say it is all the time because then that would just entail a pacifying and placating relationship-neither of which I am about).
How you ask? ( I know I can read your mind). I will tell you what I have learned about the 7 habits I have seen in highly happy children.
- They are ok with being UNHAPPY. Yes you read that right! The children who are most happy are also ok with being unhappy. They might not get the toy they want when they want it or their favorite part of the day might have to be postponed. Yes, they may be disappointed, but they have an internal emotional thermostat that helps them to regulate uncomfortable emotions.
- They know their strengths!! Let’s face it, we all struggle. When we know what our strengths are, we are able to feel a sense of accomplishment and trigger those feel good emotions that make us feel all warm and cozy inside. Make sure your kids know what their strengths are by reinforcing and celebrating them!
- They know their weaknesses. Yes this is also something that is super important. Along with knowing strengths, it is important for kids to know what their next step is AND knowing that they will get there INDEPENDENTLY. Take a baby chick for example. Little chicks know they need to get out of their egg and peck their little hearts out until they do. And they do this all by themselves! Mama chick will not and cannot help them or their baby will die. There’s a lot we can learn from good old Mother Nature!
- They have seen other adults model how to self regulate emotions. Ok, I know this one is a toughie and it takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline. Just yesterday, my daughter was being not so very cooperative and emotions were very high. I yelled at her to calm down; which of course was not very effective. It was only when I was able to discipline myself that I was able to discipline her.
- Connection, Connection, Connection! This is so key in fostering happy children! If we want our children to feel a sense of security, wanted, understood and loved, it is important for them to feel a sense of connection not only to their parents, but to extended family, neighbors, friends and of course- their teachers! Nurture this by having them get involved with community initiatives, engaging with people they may normally not have a chance to connect with and expressing gratitude for those around them.
- Allow a sense of responsibility. All of us , young and young at heart want to feel as though we are needed. The more a child feels as though they are contributing to their family, classroom or community, the more pride they feel within themselves. So go ahead- give them chores to do like folding their clothes Marie Kondo style and bring on the joy!
- Practice Mindfulness. I have worked with hundreds of children over the past 15 years of my teaching career. Time and time again, I have witnessed even the most anxious child feel a sense of calm and peace through practicing mindfulness. Through some of the techniques I teach them at school, they all seem to feel a sense of control over their emotions. Let’s be clear here. I am not saying that children shouldn’t be feeling their emotions or just get over them, what I am saying is that we need to purposefully teach our children HOW to cope with their emotions so that they are able to trigger their thinking part of the brain. It is then that they can solve problems, spark creativity and tune into their own individuality. There are a TON of great apps out there that can help guide both you and your child through simple mindfulness activities but one of favorites that I use in my programs is the calm down jar. It is simply a jar filled with water and glitter. When the child needs to practice mindfulness, all they need to do is sit in a quiet spot, shake the jar and watch as the floating glitter settles to the bottom. This gives the child not only a chance to calm themselves, but the opportunity to spend some time with their own thoughts while enjoying the almost magical quality of the floating glitter. Even picturing this in your mind makes your feel more at ease, doesn’t it.
Well, there you have it folks!! I hope you can use the “7 Habits of Highly Happy Children” in your own life and experiences!
Keep thriving and create magic!
About the author
Hi! Im Shaista and I am so happy to be hear on this wonderful platform. As a full time Kindergarten teacher, certified life coach and PHD candidate in ECE, I have been working in the public school system for 15 years. I serve as a mentor teacher, a leader and facilitate initiatives for the District. As a certified children’s life coach I work with clients to build self- esteem, manage anxiety, intuitive eating, positive body image and and developing the heart mind.
As a teacher, it has always been my mission to help students feel loved, safe, secure and successful. Even though I consider myself a teacher who strives to teach beyond the curriculum, the reality is such that we are constrained to time and curricular expectations, while trying to meet the diverse needs of every student.
As a PhD candidate in Early Childhood Education, I began to see how important skills such as confidence, self-regulation play a role in their learning journey. Through academic research and expertise as a teacher, I firmly believe in ensuring our children are taught holistically. This is the reason why I created Thrive Kids! A place where children, families, caregivers and teachers can directly engage in the heart mind, and help kids Thrive! You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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