On Friday my sister, niece and great niece came to visit from Pennsylvania. Camryn is 5 years old and very curious about everything she is exposed to. When tasting new food she asks, “is it a lick taste or a bite taste?” While visiting the American Museum of Natural History she asked many questions about the butterflies, dinosaurs, and she wanted to touch the stars in the planetarium. We often forget how the little things mean so much to young children, a special plate for strawberries, reading a story together and taking time to answer all the questions.
I was reminded of the message that Dr. Ned Hallowell outlined in his five-step plan for promoting successful learning and lifelong joy that teachers, parents and all others who care about children can use to give children the gift of happiness that will last a lifetime: Connect, Play, Practice, Mastery and Recognition. As fundamental as these five concepts are, they hold the key to raising children with healthy self-esteem, moral awareness and spiritual values. Based on current research, as well as his own experiences as a parent, teacher, and child psychiatrist, Dr. Hallowell described how one step leads to the next and how the cycle is self-perpetuated. Dr. Hallowell stressed that these five key qualities can greatly increase a child’s chances of leading a joyful and meaningful life.
What I realized this weekend spent with 3 generations of family, is that I received as much as I was given. Providing these connections and opportunities for children provides happiness for all.