Wellbeing is child’s play. Which is why I reckon we should all take it a bit more seriously. It’s when we start messing around with adulthood that most of the problems seem to occur.
If you’ve ever had the slightly-precarious privilege of standing in the middle of a primary school playground, you’ll have witnessed the sheer unadulterated joy of not being an adult. Children are in perpetual motion, laughing, screaming and literally unable to contain their happiness. You won’t find too many of them huddled around the bins bemoaning Brexit.
The proliferation of mental-health-related illness amongst teenagers and young people has been well-documented. The statistics are stark and paint a bleak picture of the challenges facing the next generation – and maybe the next. The trend would suggest that adults who struggle with symptoms such as anxiety and depression early in life, may well have to continue the struggle. A battle with mental ill-health doesn’t finish at the end of adolescence, and maybe it shouldn’t start there either…
When it comes to combatting mental illness, prevention is surely better than cure. Children who grow-up with a well-rounded, balanced perspective of the world are not immune to challenges heading their way, but at least they’re well-placed. Positioning on the front foot means there’s less likelihood of being rocked-back. Endeavouring to ensure our children craft a realistic outlook of the world, coupled with a positive view of their role within it, helps to make them comfortable in their own skin. Should the time come that they need a slightly thicker skin, they’ve crafted the resilience required.
So here are six of the best rules to share with young children, helping them to be comfortable in their own skin, and combatting potential irritation.
Rule #1 – You will receive a body
Whether you love it or hate it, it’s yours for life, so try and accept it. Make the most of it and always remember that what really counts is what’s inside it. This sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it’s true. Eat good food (most of the time) and sleep well (always). Exercise your body every day, it’s the only one you’ll ever have.
Rule #2 – Niceness and hard work together will always carry you farther than intelligence
Trust me on this one, long-term it’s true.
Rule #3 – There are no mistakes, only lessons
This is a tricky one because some things that you do will certainly feel like mistakes. You grow through a process of experimentation, so it’s a 100% guaranteed that things will not always go to plan or turn out how you’d want. Take the learning and move forward.
Rule #4 – Be kind
Always. It’s a happiness superpower and it’s free.
Rule #5 – Be grateful
Base your life on a bedrock of gratitude. Look at what you’ve already got and marvel at it, daily. Gratitude is like fertiliser for happiness.
Rule #6 – What you make of life is up to you
100% true but very difficult to get across to young people without sounding like an old person. You have all the inner resources you need. You are bursting with potential. What you do with it is up to you.
Of course, all this sounds easy, but it’s a little trickier in practice. Why? Because we tend to automatically forget all these rules at birth and have to spend the next eighty years grappling with them. Some struggles are worth it, however, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin magically changes a struggle in to a challenge. And there’s a lifetime of abundant challenge and opportunity that lies ahead of us.
So maybe there’s room for one extra rule:
Bonus Rule #7 – Be bothered
There’s a global shortage of positivity, enthusiasm and happiness. It’s more difficult to be positive than negative, and because it takes a tad of effort and a bit of practice, most people can’t be bothered.
Hence Rule #7.
Will Hussey, Andy Cope and Gavin Oattes are co-authors of Diary of a Brilliant Kid: Top Secret Guide to Awesomeness (published by Capstone, 2018):