Renown fact: nothing sweeter than the smile of a child, right? If you often spend time with a kid, you’ll also be familiar with that feeling of light warmth that fills your cheeks when a child, whatever the age, smiles at you. It just gives a sense of pride, as if we had accomplished the day’s mission right? And if it’s your child, what an even nobler mission, than to make him happy? We often identify “making a child happy” by buying her something new, or letting her win a battle… But in the long run, are those the things that can make children smile from within? What are the little gestures that will change their day (and the people around you as well) ?
Is it easy to make children smile ?
When we come home from school, it’s usually quite late. In the course of the day, I pile up a long to-do list to finish. You know, the classics : put the groceries away, take care of the laundry, and so on.
And inevitably, as soon as my kids notice that I’m starting with any of these, they come up with a very tender request, like: “Mom please, I really want to do some painting, can we do it together?” Sweet eyes and innocent look.
And I picture myself pulling out the equipment, drying the colors, chasing my little one before he repaints the white hallway’s walls with his hands, and then wash all the taps .. And I often say no, looking for anything that could distract their attention.
“Mama, can you read me a story?” While I’m still wearing my coat, the phone shows 45 unread messages, it’s almost time for dinner and the table is still set with breakfast.
You know what? Now, if I had to say the most beautiful smile I can think of on my children’s face, it’s when, unlike my usual refusal, I once happened to say, “Okay.“
I forgot about the messages, the frozen food in the shopping bags, the dinner to be prepared; accepting that it would then be late, that there would be consequences.
We sat right in the middle of the hallway, and we read the whole story. I made my son so happy at the time, just by accepting the imperfection of everything else.
What are the little things we can think of to make our children smile and happy?
If you want to make children smile, learn to love Imperfection and Improvisation
I asked my daughter a thousand times not to draw on my notebooks, or on my work planner.
As a passionate artist-to-be, my request is a rather difficult one to comply for her : as soon as she sees paper and any means of writing, the impulse is automatic.
One evening, all together in the living room, I noticed some colorful marks on my note-taking pad.
“Didn’t I ask you not to draw?” I snapped at her before reminding myself to breathe, step back, count to 10 etc.
“But mom, I thought I’d draw you a little heart so you can see it while you work” and only then did I really take a look at what she had drawn; I noticed the heart, and my heart melted.
(And I obviously felt so bad, and apologized immediately).
The following days, looking at the fluorescent green heart made with my marker, I forgot that yes, my daughter had broken the rules.. To leave me a happy thought.
Happy or Quiet?
Did you ever let your son play in the mud, or in the rain?
Since where we’re living, the school requires that we bring waterproof clothes as they bring the kids outside with any weather, I got used to the idea.
And one day, my son even told me “My favorite days are when it rains, because so I can jump into the puddles!” and I saw them, chasing each other and throwing themselves into the mud.
Yes, I’ll have to wash, provide proper clothing.. What if I jumped in myself, as a new version of Mummy Pig?
So, thinking about these little episodes, I realized that when we think about making children happy with a toy or a material thing, it’s because it’s actually more comfortable for us.
We avoid investing in something more: not only our time and our attention, but also letting go of certain barriers.
Certain rules that we self-impose, forgetting about why these rules exist in the first place.
Is it so important that the house is perfect clean? The clothes in perfect shape, that the time of dinner and bedtime are respected by the minute? If we sing out of tune and dance awkwardly, if we show our childish side?
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Ideas for letting go and making children happy
I have rethought about these episodes, and I have drawn a list of small and big gestures that will make a difference for uplifting everybody’s mood, young and adults :
When they show you something, look at them. “Look what I can do mommy!” Describe their movements, their actions aloud, even if it is simply a jump on one foot. Smile and peak of self-esteem assured.
Make a drawing for your kid, too. It can even be a simple card to hide somewhere, depending on her age. My daughter kept her dad’s drawing for a long time, she was so proud! Just as that her heart cheered me during several days.
Participate in their activities. If they paint, paint too; when you sing, join the choir; if hearing a cheerful music, dance together;
If you allow some cartoons time, watch them too. I know that we adults are aiming at these moments to have some quiet time while the kids are busy. But I assure you that your effort will be repaid.
Pick a flower, an acorn, a chestnut… Even a beautiful dry leaf! The children will be so pleased… In the fall, my son collected tons of leaves for us. And even if it annoyed me that he would stop every few minutes to pick them up, I must admit that the gesture filled me with tenderness.
Invent a story whose main characters are your children. That can also be a way to deal with a sensitive subject, such as fear of the dark; or to strengthen a dream of theirs. My son was so happy when I told him the story of the child who wanted to become a fireman!
Let your son send a voicemail to someone he hasn’t seen for a while, or have him make a call directly. It serves to tighten the bonds and make him feel important.
Observe aloud all things around you. A beautiful moon, the color of dawn, the birds in flight. I find it so sweet when my kids say out loud, all excited “Look mom, I can see the Moon!!“
Make an unexpected affectionate physical gesture. A caress, a kiss, a hug, like this, out of nowhere. An “I love You” launched while she’s telling you all about her day in school.
Connected: These strategies for dealing with a strong-willed child may really be useful for any child !
The adult version : how can I make other people smile?
Observe the person and notice something about her. A new haircut, a dress, an accessory, a particular look.. and tell her. It doesn’t have to be a compliment, but a way to show that you really see her.
Every now and then, leave a post-it with a nice message. A simple thank you, or a good morning, even simple things, without necessarily having to compose poems, but a little surprises that cheer up.
An unplanned meal at the restaurant, a last minute day-trip, a “crazy thing” to be together in a different way.
I think flowers are always nice. Regardless of the occasion, the recipient and the type of flower.
Remember an episode that you experienced together. A funny scene that will make you laugh again, or a moment of complicity. Reliving the memory will do you both good!
Call that person who is dear to you and you never have time to go visit. Without waiting for the right moment.
Observe aloud the beautiful things around you
Same as for children. Make an unexpected affectionate physical gesture. A caress, a kiss, a hug, like this, out of nowhere.
Connected: 5 daily habits to gain your positive energy
Feel like we could keep in contact? Come on in 🙂
A final reflection
I like these words by Gurdjieff, a mystic philosopher of early ‘900, drawn from the advice he wrote to his daughter.
I find that before teaching this to our children, it could help us !
Why not joining our community of parents for mutual support ?
Resources and references
I share with you some articles that I have taken as a reference, and useful readings as always! Links to Amazon in this page are affiliate links.
But first, I ask you 3 things:
Share this post if you found it useful!
What do you think? I’d really like to hear about your experience 🙂
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I’m happy to share with you this idea of”Open When” letters. It’s basically messages you leave to your kids, to be opened in a future particular moment, be it a hard time or an accomplishment. You can find many ideas and free printables here!
Tips to raise happy kids with the bonus of their scientific reasons explained, just the way I like it!
Just a reminder : it’s not our job to make our children happy
I always like Psychology Today’s articles, so I’m happy to share their 10 ways to raise a happy child!
About the value and importance of boredom – such a great writing!
For older kids (7+), this book is genius : activities they can do on their own to deal with their emotions. A nice way to learn mindfulness and coping with negative emotions.
The power of (good) habits taught to our youngsters through illustrated stories.. Brilliant idea. I might buy it for my kids!
I like this book‘s suggestion of getting a better understanding of your child’s uniqueness in order to choose the best parenting strategis. Added to my wish-list!
- Some of Gurdjieff's writings, if you are interested in deepening his philosophical thought
28 thoughts on “8 Secrets to make children smile – and the people around you!”
In my opinion, kids could also get toys at other times if they have been very good and good kids all the time. If there is any kind of trip or Disneyland going, then I think the kids should get something out there because the things they bought from the trips are still very valuable souvenirs that are not sold in shops, and every thing that is bought, will be remembered for their wonderful trips.
I highly recommend that you let the children choose what they like very much, their biggest dream and buy it. children may not like them at all.Purchase only the things that they really wanted and make them really happy.Sometimes they could rarely allow children to have the toys they deserve with their great nobility.If children are still very good, then, very rarely, they could just as well afford more expensive things. Very expensive things, then for the holidays.
I advise against banning things that children really like, because then they start plans to just want more.I advise not to buy all the time, but sometimes very rarely still be able to afford something if they have been very good children for a long time.I certainly also recommend that you let the children choose from online stores, because there are just so many rare, popular, exciting, cakey, and sweet things that may not be available in stores.
Hello there! Dear parents! Every child has the right to keep all the toys because they are valuable! If you have space, let them keep everything in their childhood! Keep the toys, if the kids like them very much!!!
Could you please forward these messages to the other people and parents too,because it is very important for all of us that every single kid can get the best childhood ever and their dreams should also come true and they will be very happy then!!!It will teach all the parents,how to give the best childhood for their children!!!This is the best lesson for all the parents!!!Thank You!
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This is beautiful and I love the throw-back pics too! I remember being so excited over such little things. Kids today want the big things. It’s so important to instill basics at an early age and try our best not to spoil the with “things”, but instead, the gift of our time.
I love this more than you know! Mindful parenting– you’ve got it, sister!
I love your post! It is so crazy how so many parents spend outrageous amount of money to make their kids happy when in fact, all they need are simple things in life. The smile that any kids would give you is the sweetest thing in the world!
This is a well-thought-out article. I appreciate the fact you are sharing advice for adults and for children; all included. I agree. It can be simple to make others happy; simply love them, and listen to their needs, and respect their wishes.
Thank you Joanna! Yes I believe we have to make it simple, so that it’s easy to include it into our every-day lives, and not leave it for special occasions only 🙂
I don’t have kids and after reading this, I’m more grateful than ever for that. Because I don’t know how to do these things. My mother was never involved like that, and that lack of nurturing is very clearly passed down to me. I’m glad I can recognize my lack of skills in that department and be so grateful.
Well, sometimes we think we don’t know how to do things because we never tried. But it’s good that you take it positively and with gratitude !
What warm, genuine ways to connect with children and adults in our lives. Those small gestures truly do make a difference in that person’s day, plus serve to strengthen our own lives with their positive relationships.
Yes I do believe we can truly change our lives through such small gestures!
A kid’s smile and laughter are contagious! And it’s fun hanging out with happy kids.
I always let my kids jump in puddles, i just usually have to stand far enough away so i don’t get muddy myself haha!
ah ah ah so right!! I do the same!!
i love that kids are so easy to please and they’ll forever remember kindness. it’s good to teach them from young and be good examples. my dad and i are really close and somehow i can still remember very vividly how he’d be so excited to play hide and go seek with me even after a long day working 3 different jobs. what a dedicated father he was and continues to be, it’s truly inspirational! he never ceases to make me happy even today even though i’m older now and live on my own!
Oh wow thank you for sharing this Sharon! what a great example 🙂
seeing a child smile at you is always a heart melting moment. http://www.thecozyme.com
yes you’re right!
Great tips! I can’t wait until my son is old enough to do all those activities.
you’ll see, it will come so quickly Candace!!
Every child is different but generally I think yes children are somewhat easy to make smile and keep happy, most don’t require a ton of fancy things or lots of toys they just want their loved one’s attention and to know they are loved!
Yes you are right!!
I must say I have this awesome knack of becoming friendly with kids very fast. I start by doing something or the other to make them happy & smile. It’s one of my favorite indulgence when with kids
That’s a great quality I would say! Not so many people are able to easily connect with children, you can be proud!
I don’t have any kids (yet) but these tips will definitely come in handy if/when I do! The adult version is a great reminder for what I can do for others!
Thank you Ashley! I’m so glad it can inspire you 🙂
Children will remember the times you were present for them. My 2 girls are 19 and 14 and they can still remember how I used to play dolls with them, and go to their tea parties and play all sorts of fun games. Show up to their sporting events and school plays. It’s not always about the quantity of time but more so the quality of time. I can tell you that it goes by very quick so all you young parents treasure these moments when they are looking for you. The way you react to your children is the way they will react to their children. Love this post.
Thank you Scott, wow did you really play dolls and went to their tea parties? That is so sweet! I’m not sure so many fathers are willing to adapt so easily to their children’s games, and I believe your daughters do appreciate your presence through their childhood A LOT
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