OK, confession time…

I’m not sure where, or how it started, but surprisingly, it was at a very young age.

I’ve always loved kids. I’ve looked after kids and worked with kids, in both professional and voluntary capacities since I was about eleven.

Spoilt

Those who thought the whole world should revolve around them though, in all honesty, I wasn’t always as enthusiastic about looking after them.

You know the ones; always whingey, always demanding something. They never quite seem to fit in with the rest of the group. To be politically incorrect (although, when it comes to mothers and their children, that’s always dangerous territory), they were spoilt brats.

At the same time, the parents of these children loved them incredibly and only ever want the very best for them.

Paradox

The funny thing was, as I began to observe, the kids who seemed happiest and enjoyed life, versus those whom I just described, presented a very strange irony.

Every parent has a different parenting style and that’s a good thing, and every child needs to be worked with in slightly differing ways. This is nothing to do with either of those two elements.

QUESTION: Who were the children who didn’t seem to be enjoying life, and didn’t seem to be content?

ANSWER: It was the children whose parents seemed to try the hardest to ensure their kids were the happiest.

Discipline

Then there were parents who, at times, came across as more “direct” with their children. They seemed a little less sympathetic to the fact that their child had commandeered most of the toys and wanted more.

They didn’t try to make their kids happy. They did whatever it took to train their children for a better life.

As odd as it might sound, despite the obvious love and dedication to their children, making them happy NOW was not their primary goal. Yet as children, they would almost always be the happiest of all in any given environment.

I know this seems strange to a lot of people in our modern western society.

Consider this: 168 students in prep (the first year of school in Queensland) were SUSPENDED in one year, in South East Queensland alone.

We’re not talking about getting in trouble for talking in class, or not playing nicely. We’re talking about being told you can’t come back to this school till your behaviour gets a lot better. There can be a number of reasons for this. However, it certainly makes sense that we need to do what is best for our kids in the long run, not just make them happy now.

We Can Have Both

To be clear, this doesn’t need to be an ‘either/or’ solution. But doing what is best for your child at the time and for the long term is important (for your own sanity). I have and still do talk with parents from both sides.

Again, I’m not saying that we all want miserable kids. Every parent wants the best for their kids, and wants them to be as happy as possible.

It’s quite obvious that those who worked on what was best for the children in the long run had happier children.

Do you try to make your kids happy by giving them whatever will make them happy right now? Or do you do what is best for them in the long term, which in turn makes them happier?

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Originally published at Mum Daily. Photo by Yan Krukau.

About the Author: Annette Spurr

Annette Spurr runs her own business at Blue Box Media and is also the Managing Editor at Mum Daily. As a wife and mother, Annette has discovered the power of gratitude journalling.

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