Ask your children:
Is our house better when Mommy is grumpy or when she’s happy? Continue asking about each person in the family. Ask why the house is better when people are happy.
Tell your children they can choose to be happy. Tell the following mini-stories, using pictures of children cut from magazines if you’d like:
- Jamie wants his mother to play with him, but she’s busy taking care of the baby. Jamie can sit on the floor and pout and whine, or he can go play with his trucks and have fun. Which would you rather do? Jamie decided to have fun and be happy. Who wants to pout and be sad? That’s no fun.
- Angela wants a cookie but her mother won’t let her have one. She can follow her mother around whining and crying, or she can go ride her bike and have fun. Which would you rather do—cry or play?
Each of these children could choose to be unhappy, but they would be wasting their time. There are many wonderful ways to spend our lives, and we have no time to waste on being unhappy about unimportant things.
Teach your children the song “If you Chance To Meet a Frown.”
You might like to help them make—or make for them—a frowning face that can be turned upside down to smile. A simple pattern is found in this lesson on happiness for toddlers. As they sing the song, they can turn the face.
Think of situations that sometimes cause your children to be grumpy, such as doing chores. Talk about ways to make those moments more interesting. Help them make a picture chart, with their own drawings, of ways to make chores or other grumpy moments happier. Place it where they can see it during these times. For instance, during chores they might sing or tell jokes. They might pretend the toys are flying into the toy box. They can even work with a partner and just talk about things both people enjoy.
Tell the children they also have the special power to make others more cheerful. In the lesson linked to above, there is a story of a little girl who cheers up her neighbors by simply smiling at everyone she sees. Help your children think of other ways they can help cheer people up, such as making a pretty picture or other small gift for someone, complimenting them, or secretly doing a chore for them.
If your children are not familiar with compliments, play a game that encourages them to offer compliments. Have them pretend they are visiting your home for the first time. Invite them to think of nice things they might say about the home and the people who live there. Then help them think of nice things to say to or about others they know and role play so they learn to say them well.
Put into practice one of the things you learned in this lesson. You might take your children someplace where there are a number of people and encourage them to smile at others. They might enjoy making a gift to take to people they know who need cheering up.
Encourage them to try to be cheerful as often as possible for the next several days, until it becomes a habit.