7 Ways to Rediscover Joy with Your Children
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
This quote has always moved me, as it does many of us, to notice the good in the world. At times it is hard to find it. But I think this is one of the reasons I love having children so much. Children are able to find joy within a multitude of tiny moments and items that adults seem to lose sight of. The “magic” and novelty melt away as we get older. They also have an innate ability to bring joy to others.
How can we find that joy, that innate helpfulness, that “magic” again?
- Look for the (little) helpers in our lives. Catch our children in the act of doing something kind for someone else, take note of it yourself, and praise them for it! Even if it is something as simple as a brother sharing a toy with his sibling, celebrate each of these moments!
- When a child exhibits pure joy over ANYTHING, stop and see it through their eyes. Each time one of my boys sees something new, it is like I get to see it for the first time, too. Their delight is utterly contagious. Just the other day my two-year-old lay in his very first pile of fall leaves. I stopped and enjoyed every second of his time spent rolling in, tossing, and examining each of those leaves. It took me back to when I played in leaves as a child. How could I have forgotten how FUN that was?!
- Take your child to a place that may be a little outside of your comfort zone, and see the difference they make. The innocence of childhood sometimes makes them much less self-conscious than we are as adults. Watching them be confident and outgoing can boost our confidence, too! I recently went to a memory care facility with my boys. It was so much fun to watch them interact with these men and women. The kids brightened the day of so many adults. It was amazing to watch the faces of people light up at the sight of kids working, playing, jumping, and dancing.
- Give your child the space and freedom to try things on their own. My kids love to help in the kitchen. I have had to learn to tell the “Type-A” in me to step aside once in a while. In those moments when I can let go, the joy they exhibit when they accomplish something independently is so much fun to see! They feel proud, but they also feel useful. My kids love to help make dinner, wash dishes, set the table, clean windows. The mess left at the end is COMPLETELY worth watching their faces emanate joy at the end of accomplishing even the tiniest of tasks. Don’t you wish you still felt that much joy at scrambling an egg or squeegee-ing your shower doors? Ha!
- Practice mindfulness with your children. We do a mindfulness activity every morning before we rush out the door or start our day. It sometimes is as short as one minute. But connecting with our own bodies and talking about how we feel on the inside opens us up to each other and ourselves in an amazing way. My kids are learning to handle their big emotions in positive ways (and so am I). We also learn to live in the moment by noting what is always going on in the present. It is AMAZING how connecting with the PRESENT, connects us with joy and meaning on a deep level. A lot of stressors melt away when we live in the moment.
- Check out this page for ideas for mindfulness activities for kids.
- Ask your children what they are thankful for once per day (or keep a journal with them). Keeping our focus on gratitude can help remind us what is important, what we have in our lives that make them great. We all can find so much we are thankful for. I find that the #1 thing for me is my kids. They teach me something new every day.
- Find FREE printable Gratitude Journal, Gratitude Scavenger Hunt, and Gratitude Prompts: click HERE!
- Before bed each night, I lay with my kids and ask 5 simple questions:
- What made you happy today?
- What made you sad today?
- Do you have any questions about your day?
- What did you do that was kind today?
- What is one wish you have for tomorrow?
It is amazing how discussing these things with my five-year-old especially can be so enlightening. I find these moments before bed often teach me the most about what is important in life. It’s amazing to discover what your children find most important.
Keep spreading kindness and always look for the *little* helpers. And don’t forget to share what you do to keep childhood alive. We love hearing your ideas!