Ask most parents and they will say they want their kids to be happy. But what defines ‘happiness’ for kids, tweens and teens?
As reported by Psychology Today (March 2018), many kids have a need to feel like they belong in order to achieve true happiness. Though smartphones and current digital technologies have the potential to connect us, many parents feel like screens have replaced face to face contact and have been more isolating than connecting. Participating in activities, game nights, local adventures or even just spending time talking together has proven to have lasting positive impacts on the feeling of truly ‘belonging’ to family, peer groups and the community.
After-school activities offer kids the opportunity to cultivate connections with others they might not necessarily discover in a school setting. Finding a place to ‘fit in’, surrounded by comfort and familiarity is as important as branching out, trying new things and meeting people.
But, as parents and caregivers we are conditioned to focus on a child’s future and ‘lifetime’ of happiness whereas, children are more focused on immediate happiness. While both perceptions of time and happiness are important, adults can learn a thing or two from a child’s ability to live ‘in the moment’. This also means that it may take many attempts, at various activities with different groups of peers over time, for a teen to feel happy and satisfied.
Giving your teen the opportunity to make choices, move freely and delve into the world around them, without being over-scheduled or micro-managed can help encourage self-exploration and the courage to find the world (or worlds) in which they truly feel they belong in school, after school and even inside their own family environments (Psychology Today).
My daughter (pictured below) took a series of youth Aerial Yoga classes at Juniko in Hanover last year and learned that a yoga studio is a place she feels calm and centered (just like mommy). On this school vacation day, she joined me at Weymouth Club for an hour-long yoga and guided meditation class. Being introduced to these practices has made her world bigger and offered her a place she feels accepted, comfortable and happy. And, major bonus – she *actually* wanted to hang out with her mom today.