Happiness in the heart of a young child

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By Beth Pinyerd

We preschool and early childhood teachers have a wonderful calling on our lives, and that is to teach, care, love and interact with children on a daily basis.
As preschool parents join hand in hand with early childhood teachers, we both realize that we have been blessed with the gifts of lives who are ready to learn, explore the world and how they fit in this world through guidance, instruction and age-appropriate discipline. When children have inner joy and happiness, this is a key for them to be encouraged to achieve and succeed! Through observations, resources and teaching experiences, I’d like to share a few “happiness tips” that I hope will beat the winter blues!
It’s wondrous what a hug truly can do. I know it thrills parents, grandparents and teachers when children run with a smile and outstretched arms to greet us with a big hug! This teacher’s day starts out wonderfully when I hear my name called followed by a big hug from one of my young students! Parenting is truly a demanding season in raising young children! We as parents have to multi-task daily in running errands, preparing meals, bathing and dressing our children, taking them to preschool, making sure they rest, as well as getting ourselves to work. Taking time to create hug moments provides so many benefits for your child. When your child awakens after a nap or long night’s sleep, a hug can provide such love and security. It gives them confidence that they are accepted.
Point out daily happenings all around that a child can be grateful for. Children are little observers of everything! When you ask them to name things they are thankful for, the list goes on and on! They can call out things they are thankful for while riding in the car to keep their little minds busy. In the classroom, the children like to share things they are grateful for by listing on the board. Too, they like to draw what they are thankful for as well as create objects of gratefulness with Play-doh. Being a grateful observer puts them in a happy mood!
An honest laugh from a child is contagious for everybody around. Laughter promotes a positive and happy outlook for a child. Laughter releases physical tension and stress and helps them relate better with other children. Reading a funny book and looking at a funny video are good sources of laughter.
Playing inside or outside with your child promotes physical, mental and emotional happiness in exercise and fun. Running, walking, skipping and throwing a ball back and forth is loved by young children! The time and attention you spend with your children spells love.
Each has special gifts and talents! Verbally celebrating a child’s uniqueness, strengths and things they are good at builds esteem and happiness in children. They hang on to each compliment! One incident that taught this teacher a lesson is when I would catch a student being good, I would quickly jot a simple star student note on what I had caught them being good at. I had one little fellow in kindergarten who hung on to his star student note for a long time. This simple note brought this child happiness, and he was not going to let it go!
Children are happy when they are engaged in helping others. These can be simple acts of kindness in helping friends and family. Children love to be needed and to help. I love to quietly observe preschoolers and kindergarten students help each other tie or put on their shoes when needed.
I hope just these few common sense tips will help your child to develop an attitude of happiness!
Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in Opelika and Baldwin County. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education as well as a bachelor’s degree in family and child development both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures, and events by e-mailing her at donnapinyerd@charter.net.

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