In the Pursuit of Happiness: Developing and Sustaining Happiness in Children

In the Pursuit of Happiness: Developing and Sustaining Happiness in Children

Jaclyn Terese Kell (Marymount Manhattan College, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2940-9.ch002

Abstract

How can we foster happiness in a child and what happens if it is not done properly? Newborns have to rely on their parents and others to teach them this emotion from the beginning, and there are some that fail to do so. This chapter discusses the theories and methods used in fostering happiness in children from a young age as well as understanding other challenges. Positive psychology, discovered by Martin Seligman, is currently a new industrialized way of catalyzing a more focused view on infusing life with positive qualities. Other topics concerning happiness stem from positive psychology. It is imperative to understand them and consider them throughout a child's life. Children's minds are constantly developing to understand new things around them. Children aren't going to be happy at all times, and there will be moments when they throw tantrums or have other issues. When these moments occur, it is important for parents, teachers, and other adults to handle them the right way.
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Introduction

Understanding Happiness

The idea of happiness and being happy can range from good health, enjoying time with family, or maintaining a prosperous career. The concept of happiness over the past decade has received a lot of attention among researchers (Aaker, Kamvar, and Mogilner, 2012). Psychologists and other scholars have worked to establish the best way to increase, measure, and understand why happiness is so important (Aaker et al., 2012). Happiness is an important individual goal for most, and it’s interesting to think that our understanding of how to pursue this happiness, for the most part, has stemmed from media, parents, and peers (O’Brien, 2008). The meaning of this term has a variety of definitions depending on the individual. For individuals who are much older, the concept of happiness has most likely already been accessed and implemented in different ways throughout their lives.

From a very young age, children progress and learn from parental figures in their life and from those around them. Happiness during infancy and childhood may be just as critical as happiness during adulthood for predicting future success and well-being (Coffey, 2019). First however, it is important to consider how to foster this kind of positive emotion in children. When asking a child the meaning of happiness, a child may offer a diverse set of responses compared to an already developed adult. There are psychological determinants that can play a role. Research suggests that childhood happiness is associated with strong social capabilities and healthy behaviors. Those who struggle to achieve happiness experience greater difficulty contending with stress and forging relationships (Batcho, 2019). Fostering happiness in children at a young age can result in various positive outcomes, while failing to nurture happiness, can result in negative consequences. Happiness today is an ongoing subject and is judged by what we experience every day. This emotion sustains life and is not only a consequence of success, but also a cause of it (Perez-Alvarez, 2016). What is it about happiness that is so critical from the beginning, and how does it affect one’s future?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Framework: Format or structure that supports a theory.

Parentese: “Baby talk,” parents expressing high pitched and repetitive words to gain a reaction from a child.

Emotional Regulation: A response to certain experiences in a sufficient manner using a variety of emotions.

Positive Emotion: Lacking negative feeling and having a sense of joy, happiness, and serenity.

Wellbeing: Positive feelings, happiness, gaining a sense of personal growth, and having purpose in life.

Temporal Focus: How an individual views and thinks about the past, present and future.

Sustainable Happiness: Happiness that extends further towards the environment, community, and future individuals.

Foster: To encourage and nurture, develop.

Positive Psychology: An existential and substantiated way of thinking in an area of research, studying constructive personalities, and affirmative emotion.

Stimulants: An element or something that raises levels of bodily or psychological activity.

Cognitive Processing: The function of mental activity, thinking, remembering, and acting.

Physical Affection: Developmental or nurturing actions exchanged between people such as hugging, kissing, and cuddling.

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