People often comment on how happy our Little Bear seems.  It is true!  In general he was a happy baby and is now a very happy toddler.  He is quite content to spend his three days a week at nursery and is always smiling when I go to collect him.  He is  social and in the mornings we are met with an enthusiastic ‘Good morning!’.

Of course, he has days or moments where he becomes very frustrated, angry or sad.  Sometimes it scares us just how angry he can get, but I guess that part of parenting is showing a child how to deal with those emotions.

How have we succeeded in growing a happy toddler?

  • A Happy Home:

Well, for one thing I believe that a child’s emotions are closely linked to their home environment.  A happy home equals a happy child.

Many people do not realise how a baby or toddler soaks up the emotions of both parents.

I only noticed this when Little Bear was around five or six months old.  It really became clear to me, that if I got stressed by his crying he would get worse and worse.  Since then I have learnt to stay calm (well on most occasions anyway!).  Now that he is entering the terrible twos and has already started throwing tantrums, it really helps.  I can deal with him calmly and, when needed, ignore the tantrum.

  • No Resentment:

I have had one rule since Little Bear was born.  This rule is that no matter how we are feeling – whether we are sick,  slightly hungover from a deserved night out or suffering from lack of sleep because Little Bear was up all night teething – we have to greet him happily.  Little Bear has to wake up in a happy environment.  There must be no resentment.  This rule is very important to me.

It is easy to slip into a grumpy, resentful state of mind in those first few months after having had a baby.  You are sleep deprived and, especially if breastfeeding, totally exhausted.  It is easy to project your irritation onto your baby.   I have my Mom to thank for making me so aware of this.

Shortly after Little Bear’s birth, she travelled over here to spend some time with us.  One day she saw how upset and irritated I became when Little Bear had a crying session.  She gently told me to calm down and said ‘Remember he is just a baby’.

I know! It sounds so obvious – but when you are a new mom, caught up in the repetitive cycle of your day it is very hard to keep this in mind when your baby is screaming often and for,  what seems to be, no reason at all.

  • Respect:

We try to always remember to treat him with respect.   He is, after all, his own person.

We do not snatch things away from him just because we are in a hurry.  We build in extra time for getting from point A to point B when walking so that we can take our time and let him explore his surroundings.

We always try to tell him what we intend to do.  On some occasions this is very difficult to apply because of how rushed and time driven everything is for our generation (and a toddler learning to dress himself moves at a snails pace), but we try!

I hope that as Little Bear grows we can continue to ensure that he becomes a happy child and from there, a well balanced adult who can treat others respectfully.  That would be the big pay off for us.

There is also a lovely blog post here on this subject by Sean Platt of the Writerdad blog over at Zenhabits.