"I just want my kids to be happy! What can possibly be wrong with that?" Trying to keep your kids happy may actually have the opposite effect.
Accepting the Full Range of Emotions
When you focus on your kids being happy, your unspoken message is that feeling happy is the goal. Emotions like anger, disappointment, frustration, sadness, loneliness and fear should be avoided.
How do you communicate this to your kids? Perhaps you can relate to the dad whose daughter expressed disappointment at having to go to the store with him. Instead of simply acknowledging her disappointment, he promised to get her some candy. She was then happy to go with him.
Maybe you’ve been in a situation like Erin’s whose son loves playing video games. When she tells him it’s time to do something else, he gets angry so she often lets him play a little longer. Even though Erin feels he is spending too much time on video games, she hates dealing with his crankiness when it’s time to turn it off.
Another mom described her son’s limited food preferences. He likes pizza, pasta and hamburgers so that’s what he has for dinner every night. While she knows this isn’t the healthiest diet, it keeps him happy.
When you strive to keep your kids happy, they miss out on learning to handle their more difficult emotions. You may also be sacrificing what is healthy for them in the long term for short term happiness.
Encouraging Self-Centered Focus
Loving parents can unintentionally raise self-centered, unhappy children. How does this happen? One way it happens is when parents continually give their children the message that the children's needs, desires and happiness are superior over anyone else's. These children grow up learning to focus on themselves, not others.