How children get happy

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What parents need to know to make their child strong for life?

“The four cardinal virtues of wisdom, bravery, moderation and justice are still important educational goals today. When children experience how beneficial it is to conquer the world cleverly and courageously in this sense, it makes them responsible, helpful and attentive people. Such children are happier and healthier than their peers who meet other people’s expectations or adopt the law of the stronger, ” says the pedagogue Ernst Fritz-Schubert.

Ernst Fritz-Schubert (born in 1948) studied economics and law and completed therapeutic training. He has headed the Willy Hellpach School in Heidelberg since 2000. In 2007, he introduced the subject “Happiness” to this vocational school with such success that it is now taught at over 100 schools in Germany and Austria. In the meantime, Ernst Fritz-Schubert works in teacher training and works as a sports psychological consultant in the youth promotion of a football club. The educator and author of books founded the Fritz Schubert Institute in 2011 – with the aim of strengthening happiness and satisfaction in society and for the individual. He has two children and lives in Heidelberg.

Are they still there, the happy children, as Astrid Lindgren describes them so impressively in books like “Michel von Lönneberga”?

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Yes, they do exist – even if mass media want to teach us better today and present new horror scenarios every day in numerous talk shows. Of course there are many children who break apart from the adversities of life – neglect from their parents, discouragement from teachers. But complaining does not help. Today, more than ever, we have to ensure that our children can develop well despite sometimes adverse circumstances. This can succeed if we reinforce their innate or learned skills. All children have undreamt-of resources, and these must be discovered together with them: one of the most important tasks of parents and educators in our time.

But don’t parents always want the best for their children?

Yes, but the serenity and confidence that everything will ultimately come together has evaporated more and more over the past few decades. Parents are often unsettled and worry about their child’s future as soon as things do not go so well at school. For every deviation from the norm, a stamp is put on the child: dyslexia, dyscalculia, poor concentration, ADHD and so on.

What should change here?

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Of course, school is not possible without imparting knowledge. It is even more important, however, that the pupils transform what they have learned into independent knowledge, which enables them to understand the relationships between the various elements of knowledge. Correctly understood education means an increase in personal knowledge. It not only serves for professional qualification. At school, it must therefore be possible to develop into an educated person without economic pressure and without fear of failure.

Studies show a dramatic increase in children’s anxiety. Do you suffer above all from school fear?

No, besides fear of school there are other existential fears. In some cases, children take on the concerns of their parents, such as the fear of losing their job. Or they are afraid of other horror scenarios often conjured up in the media. Children’s rooms no longer offer an enclosed space. Information about disasters of all kinds is washed in unhindered, stirs up children’s fears and gives them sleepless nights. The zeitgeist of our accelerated society also contributes to the uncertainty of young people. If culture and tradition are replaced by the laws of the market, according to which the strong winds and the weak loses, then there is only one assessment pattern for your own life: either you are on the winning side or on the losing side. In order not to go under in this harsh world of competition, consumption and sensory overload, children urgently need spaces. If we do not allow them the time necessary to get used to the complexity of the adult world, we overwhelm them and thus damage their development sustainably.

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Children are especially unhappy and become noticeable when they are physically, socially or mentally overwhelmed.

When are children particularly happy?

Whenever you forget yourself about your game, work or a person or if you feel in harmony with nature. When children learn to be mindful, to respect themselves, their fellow human beings and their surroundings, they get new clothes, parents use to buy wholesale kids clothes they expand their range of perceptions and their happiness.

When and where are the foundations for a happy life laid?

The family is still the first and decisive place where the foundations for a happy life are laid. Mutual respect and appreciation, the care for each other and a sense for the meaning of life are learned in a sensitive exchange. Parents act as role models. Only those who are grown up enough to take responsibility for themselves and their actions can promote this ability among their children. If children are to succeed in a world of overstimulation, consumption and excessive demands and expectations, but to be permanently happy, they need above all parents to whom they can orientate themselves, who believe in their strengths and support them. Outside the home, the school has the important task of strengthening confidence and self-confidence in children and to support them in taking responsibility for themselves and others. A person’s personality evolves through experiences he has in dealing with difficulties and problems. Every crisis offers children the opportunity to get to know themselves better and to try different solutions. It is important, however, that we do not give them the solutions, but work them out together with them. In a way, children are experts in themselves and their behavior. However, what they often lack when developing their own identity is the view from the outside. This blind spot needs to be illuminated so that the child’s self-image is supplemented by the external image.

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