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5 Counterintuitive Ways to Make Your Child Happy

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Every good parent wants to make their children happy. But what if as a parent, your good intentions to bring happiness to your children are actually working against them in the long run?

Here are five things that parents are often hesitant to do with their children either out of inconvenience or because they’re afraid of their child’s disapproval. However, in the long-term, doing these things will actually produce healthy, happy, and charactered young people rather than slothful, entitled, and shallow individuals (all of these principles come from the wisdom of Solomon in the book of Proverbs):

Don’t give your child everything they want

Most parents want to give their kids their hearts’ desires, or maybe everything that they never had themselves growing up. But this can be a very dangerous approach to parenting that plants seeds of entitlement in years to come. Your responsibility is to give your children what they need. Along the way, every good parent will bless their child with a few of their wants as they’re able. However, make them earn, or work for, most of their wants.

Proverbs 13:4  The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Regularly tell them no

I’m big on telling my kids yes when I can because I want to be a “yes” parent whenever possible. But good parenting also involves the ability to regularly tell your children no. Wise parents are able to discern the difference between the two. Don’t be the parent who refuses to clearly and firmly tell your children no when necessary. Because if they don’t learn how to properly receive and respond to “no” from you, it’s going to be a whole lot harder receiving it from anyone else for the rest of their life.

Proverbs 29:17  Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

Discipline them when they do wrong

Good parents lovingly and consistently discipline their children. (Proverbs 22:15) In fact, according to Scripture, choosing not to discipline our children is a sign of a lack of love.

Proverbs 13:24  He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chaseneth him betimes.

Administering discipline out of love is a long-term parenting strategy. Withholding discipline out of convenience is a short-sighted parenting strategy. (Proverbs 23:13-14)

Make them do hard things

Most often our children naturally will not want to do hard things, but this is one of the reasons we need to make them. Hard things build character, and not allowing them to quit when things get tough develops life-long skills. Whether it’s doing the dishes, mowing the yard, or finishing that school report or project, hold your kids accountable to do hard things that aren’t always fun.

Proverbs 20:4  The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. 

Require them to deal with conflict

Your child is going to be dealing with conflict for the rest of their life. So what better time to equip them with the tools they’ll need for success than by helping them navigate their conflicts with the wisdom and discretion of you by their side? While all conflict does not always need to be resolved head-on, all conflict does need to be dealt with personally, biblically, and sometimes collectively.

Proverbs 18:19  A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Yes, these things are often counterintuitive for us as parents, because it’s just so much easier not to do them, even though we know deep down that they produce future happiness for our kids. (Heb. 12:11)

Sometimes making our children happy for life requires making them unhappy for now.

Of these five things, which one do you struggle with the most?

This article originally appeared here.

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Andrew is a husband, the father of four awesome kids, and a children's pastor at a thriving church. He is passionate about intentional parenting and helping other parents and leaders effectively reach the next generation. He blogs about kids and family at AndrewScottLinder.com, and provides proven resources for VBS and children's ministry at KidzBlast.com.