Nowadays, when parents are asked what they would like their children to be in the future, most parents would answer a happy person. That is to say, they would like their children to be happy. However, in this modern age, many parents of students studying in Shanghai schools are facing the challenges of helping their children in achieving a level of happiness.
Never in history has the wellbeing of humankind been so discussed. Sometimes when happiness is discussed, it sounds a lot like the main components of mental health. It is also easy to feel helpless when it comes to children’s mental health and wellbeing when people look around and feel the weight of scary statistics and trends bearing down on them.
Parents and teachers have a lot of power when it comes to their child’s mental health and resulting in happiness. Indeed, as mentioned, many parents will say their wishes for their child’s future would for them to be happy. But how do parents and teachers foster and support this for their children?
A consultant from a well-known Shanghai school, Wellington College Shanghai, pursues promoting happiness in children and shares a few key experiences.
Children thrive when they know where they are, both physically and emotionally, with clear routines and boundaries. However, in recent years there has been an alarming increase in children with overly regimented lives, where every minute is planned and accounted for. Much of this appears like an extension of school with entire weekends taken up with clubs and tutoring. Children are then constrained in a number of ways, unable to express their interests organically in play and unable to develop those key skills of being bored and learning to seek out their own entertainment with support or guidance.
Therefore, children must have time to play. Teachers at Wellington’s Shanghai school take great delight in observing younger pupils engaged and excited in outdoor play. Their imagination is sparked and there is not one child during this time who isn’t embodying happiness.
Furthermore, music, dance and physical exertion are all excellent stimulants for the brain to produce endorphins, the so-called ‘happy chemicals’. At Wellington’s Shanghai school, all these elements are integrated in a relaxed and organic way into children’s play and daily activities.
Linking to the first point, providing a physically and emotionally safe environment for children is important. Children need to know that mistakes are ok and that people all fall and fail in life. Such challenges can provide people with a chance to build resilience, another key life skill. Equally, children must have space in their lives to express their emotions, be they happy, sad or angry. They must also see that adults have these emotions too, and how adults deal with them is also important. Adults are role models for children. What they see and hear in relation to the adults in their lives, children will project onto their own interactions and emotions. Even in this modern age, we still have children who face physical harm at home. At Wellington and most likely all Shanghai schools, this goes against every value they seek to uphold.
Finally, children want to spend time with people they love. Teachers at Wellington’s Shanghai school have had many conversations with their pupils about the joy they feel when they are with their parents and loved ones, talking about weekends and holidays spent together, they are alive with happiness. People all lead increasingly busy lives, over which work often looms large. But children need their fair share of time too. A hug from a parent means the world, but an afternoon together, engaged in the interests of the child means even more.
In conclusion, achieving an adult state of happiness can be the direct result of a childhood spent exploring the interests and experiences that bring happiness. It is agreed that children deserve a future that is successful and secure, but it must also be a happy future for them. The examples and activities shared by Wellington Shanghai school indicate their teachers’ hopes that all Wellingtonians pursue happiness with the same determination and ambition they will apply to their education and other life goals. Many believe that happiness is the most important goal of all.
Company Name: Wellington College International Shanghai
Contact Person: Admission Department
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Phone: +86-21 5185-3866