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The Seven Secrets of Happy Children

Time to Read – 8 Years, 3 Days

The Seven Secrets of Happy Children – If you want a child that you care for, to grow up with higher self-esteem than the vast majority of the adult population, then do these:

1    Say “Yes” to your child as often as you say “No.” Your child needs to know where he or she stands, not just where they fall. Note – Do this and this alone and your child will grow up with higher self-esteem.

2    Tell them that you love them each and every day, especially last thing before they go to sleep.

3    When you praise them, be specific about what the praise of for.

4    Encourage them how to think, not what to think – be careful about giving your opinions as if they are facts. And listen to what they say – really listen.

5    Play/be with them when they want you to – five minutes after doesn’t work.

6    Your child is very very clever and aware from the moment they are born – remember this at all times – never look down at them (indeed, when you speak to them, kneel to their level).

7    Show a genuine interest in an interest of theirs – be it a TV programme, book or hobby – don’t judge their choice of music like your parents may have judged yours.

And an 8th…

If your son or daughter says they want to be an astronaut when they grow up, how would you reply?

Oh! What a big moment of choice for you – do you tell “the truth” and explain how difficult that would be – education, dedication, hard work?

Or do you say, “And you will be a very good astronaut”.

I suggest the latter.

Indeed, whatever your child/niece/nephew/young friend says in terms of what they are going to be, say the same “And you will be a very good xxx”.


Because it will give them more choices in life (and higher self-esteem), because tomorrow they will want to be something different anyway and because what right do you have to impose your limited beliefs on their ambition / future?

With my love and best wishes



PS Our daughter Olivia graduated from Southampton University last week – with a first!

18 Responses to The Seven Secrets of Happy Children

  1. Another option in reply to number 8 (in support of number 4), “That’s great, why did you choose a xxx?”

  2. Congratulations to Olivia, and wish her all the success in future! My son graduated from Southampton Uni some 6 years ago and followed it with MBA from HEC, Paris couple of years ago. He is doing very well today!

    A superb set of points I wished I had when my son was growing up. Definate material to pass on the friends & family with young kids.

  3. It is the small things that make a difference.
    I like the saying yes one to kids, not no.
    yes you can, although you might have to wait until tomorrow. That works!

  4. Your weekly EM has for many years been a rich source of ideas, a helpful nudge and great content to share with others – and many they are who have taken benefit from it.
    I would remind any reader of the value of sharing the messages/ content with a colleague, member of the family or even the editor of the local newspaper!
    It’s in our gift to make life easier for each other – this truly human gift might just provide the stimulation required to that person/ group.
    I have 3 children and this weeks word have reminded me of a few actions I must take.
    Keep up the super work you do David and remember to get in touch if you event pass M1J29 with an hour for a ‘pit-stop’ – food & water hole in Chesterfield I know that i’d live you to try.
    Best regards, Vic

  5. Congratulations on Oliva’s graduation. She is a true gift to the world as all children are. Our son Oliver has managed to secure a job in the UK he decided to leave education and work unfortunately not having a degree he could not get a visa to work in Singapore and he was disappointed but he went back to UK and despite lots of negative press he had the positive attitude to secure a job in a small fast growth company. He was interviewed by a team of 5 and confidentaly shared his aspirations for himself and the company.
    I agree with all you said particularly praising and listening. I am currently living in Kuala Lumpur and am blessed to be working with some beautiful burmese refugee chidlren. I am learning so much with them so much love and joy from these little beings of light.
    Last week we let them paint and it was the first time they had painted it was amazing the positive energy coming from their works and when they sing it is joyful. Thanks for giving me a forum to share this. With much love and gratitude for your inspirational works and for Oliva Fiona

    PS: I remember many years ago now you sent a quiz for children to complete scoring their parents I particularly remember this excercise as I scored 10/10. Being a mum is my greatest achievement and now i get to share my gifts with more wonderful children

  6. I remember clearly the first time my dad said the words “I love you” to me. I was 25 years old and living abroad. I knew he loved me (really loved me), but he had not actually said those three words to me. It was at the end of a weekly telephone chat. When I put the phone down, I sobbed my heart out as those words meant so very much to me. I’ll never ever forget how wonderful it made me feel. I’ve now got two beautiful children of my own and I tell them I love them every day.

  7. Love number one, the yes to children bit.
    Congrats to Olivia.
    All children should be nurtured and told how great they are each day.
    there is nothing quite like them.

  8. Great! Love the way it is presnted Dave. I can at least say that I do one thing. The last thing I say to them when the go to bed is I love them.
    Thanks, Fredrik

  9. Telling th children you love them is fundamental.
    I know my mum never had that from her parents. They ruled by fear.
    Best to rule by love in my opinion.

  10. I enjoy giving praise and the best thing is when they have achieved somethingiot is lovely to say ‘well done’ and really mean it.
    Kids make us proud there is absolutely no doubt about that.
    They can be so fantastic in givig us the best feelings, from the moment they were born.

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