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08 Feb, 2011

Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coach Plus Articles|Coaching Articles|Life Coaching Articles|NLP Articles|Youth Coaching Articles

Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson

Every parent would like to ensure their child’s happiness. It is something that cannot be bought despite the materialistic world we now live in. We can’t give a child happiness however we can share it and teach them how to develop it. How can coaching parents and children close the gap between the happiness we desire and where we are now?

Aiding children to become aware and manage their emotions, increase their level of responsibility, develop their self awareness will ultimately increase a child’s happiness. Coaching can provide a platform to enable this to happen either for a parent or for a parent wanting to develop these discussions with a child of any age.

Define what happiness means to you or your child? Is it sharing laughter, an act of kindness, engagement with friends and family, enjoying what you are doing, appreciating the world around you be it nature, art, music or whatever. The choice of definition is personal and yours!

Draw or imagine a ladder. The bottom step is number 1 and the top step is number 10. With regards to happiness, where are you on the ladder now? Give yourself a number between 1-10. (This number might change depending on the time of day, what has just happened etc however there is no limit to how many times this exercise can be repeated.)

When you have your number, think about what is going on for you right now? Think/write/speak about this. Not just for two seconds but for as long as time will allow. What is going well? What are you enjoying? What makes it enjoyable? Who else is involved in your thoughts during this process? Memorise or write down your thoughts, feelings and actions as this is want you want to build on. Then, look back at your ladder. What difference to you would it make to move up the ladder? Next, say to yourself or your child, OK, what would it take to move one rung up the ladder? What would do you need to do? Who could help? What action do you need to take? When can you take action? What would it give you if you did move up the ladder? If you can move up one rung that’s great. What would happen if you started to think about moving even further up the ladder? Think about it. Next think about what it would take to stay there! How can you use this in other situations, times of the day, weeks or months?

In our fast past society today it is very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. Are we always striving for more, the latest technical device, phone, ebook reader, games console, trainers, car whatever the materialistic possession be? How often do we stop, take stock of what we have and more importantly look beyond the material world and look inside our self. What really matters to us? What really brings us happiness….very rarely would someone answer my new phone! The need to reflect and appreciate brings much comfort to what we already have, do and be. How lucky we are to have friends, family, beautiful countryside, the sunshine (sometimes!)? When was the last time you took a step back and really enjoyed what you have, what you have made? No, really, stopped and noticed. How have you shared this with those that matter to you? This is a step towards what might bring happiness.

Understanding and discussing emotions can be difficult for all of us, whatever our age! How can this aid our happiness? If we can gain an insight into what makes us happy, sad, frustrated, angry etc and learn to handle and deal with these emotions it will raise our awareness. Learning what it feels like to be happy and wanting more of it. Controlling anger and discussing what makes us frustrated.

How can this be discussed and developed with children? One way that I have used during coaching sessions with children is to get a magazine, cut out pictures of people’s faces showing different signs of emotion- happiness, sad, frustrated, cross etc and asking a child to discuss what each picture shows(or get the child to draw/imitate a happy/sad person etc). What might that feeling be like? When can you think of a situation that provokes that emotion? What was it like? Getting children (and adults) to discuss their feelings and learning how to control and understand what might cause the feeling and how they can respond is a fantastic learning experience. Raising their awareness and developing control of emotion is an essential skill.

Visualisation is another method to use with children (and adults). Imagine being happy, what is it like? What would you look like? How does it feel? How would you hold yourself differently? How would this impact on your friends? Or discus a fictional character, act when they are happy/sad? What would Bob the builder say….“can we fix it, yes we can!” What would Marry Poppins do? (Smile? Sing? I will leave it to your imagination!)

A nervous child about to walk into a playground could use this skill to think about a time they were happy/confident. Which fictitious character could they play out? How could they reframe a negative state into a positive one? NLP can help with this.

None of us can claim to have happiness all the time. Understanding what gives or makes happiness and what happiness we give to others, how we take stock of this, how we appreciate it when we have it, and think about how we can work on getting it back when we feel as if we have lost it is the key to developing a happier person, child, parent and society.

What will you do next?

by Tania Gibson

5 Responses to "Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson"

1 | Tweets that mention Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson - Coaching Blog --

February 8th, 2011 at 10:02 pm


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jan Lonnen, The Coaching Academy. The Coaching Academy said: Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson – #youthcoaching #coachingacademy [...]

2 | Jeni Hooper

February 10th, 2011 at 10:49 am


I so agree that “We can’t give a child happiness, however we can share it and teach them how to develop it”

Being around happy people spreads happiness both because it is contagious but also because children learn the skills of positivity to use over and over again. Happiness is a skill not just a momentary feeling.

I found Barbara Fredrikson’s book Positivity a great read. She is a Positive Psychologist who has found that being positive not only feels good but helps people across their lives. Being positive, with a ratio of at least 3:1 leads to more satisfaction and success both in our personal lives and at work.

Helping children learn the soft skills for happiness and wellbeing will set life onto the right track.

Jeni Hooper
Child Psychologist and Parent Coach

3 | Wendy Ager

February 13th, 2011 at 3:48 pm


Thanks for this great post Jeni,

There are so many definitions of what might make us happy and it’s good to see a reminder that we really should decide for ourselves!

What I see as a common theme is that happiness revolves around being social ie sharing it. I’m currently reading “The Optimist” by Laurence Shorter which is an interesting read on optimism in society (or lack of, if the media have anything to do with it, according to the book!). I’d liken the start of the book as being at the bottom of your ladder and Laurence’s quest to help people get to the top!

Thanks again for sharing this,

Wendy Ager

4 | Tweets that mention Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson - Coaching Blog --

February 13th, 2011 at 4:10 pm


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Real Secret, Wendy Ager. Wendy Ager said: Happiness matters in children – by Tania Gibson on @coachingacademy Blog #Coaching #happiness [...]

5 | Tweets that mention Happiness matters in children by Tania Gibson - Coaching Blog --

February 19th, 2011 at 10:07 am


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott Hay, Scott Hay. Scott Hay said: Great article on coaching parents and children to lead happier lives. [...]

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