December 18, 2017

Being Cheerful as a Virtue

happy kidsBy Karen Daniels

When I walk down the hall at the school where I work, I enjoy seeing the children as they line up for lunch.  As they walk past me, I often hear cheery hellos or see their hands waving to me.  It always puts a smile on my face.  Most children by nature are happy people.  They see each new day as a fresh start and they get excited about the many events that come their way.  We adults who are bogged down by the pressures of life could learn from these moments.


Unfortunately, these same children who easily find delight in many things are often just as easily unhappy when life doesn’t go the way they feel it should.  I see it all the time at school.  Children tattling on their peers.  Children who are unhappy because they didn’t get a turn on the computer.  Children who don’t like the lunch menu that day.  Children who don’t like what their teacher asks them to do.  


I was reading the Carolyn Haywood book, Eddie’s Green Thumb (copyright 1944) to my daughter the other day and I was struck by the main character Eddie.  He must have been around ten years old.  What a sweet disposition he had.  He was a happy likable boy who spent his days turning small things into big exciting adventures.  He could laugh at himself and was helpful to others.  


A lot has happened to children since 1944.  Ironically, although children today seem more grown up by the way they dress and talk, they are in fact more dependent on adults who spend too much time ‘hovering’ over them.  This adult behavior doesn’t allow children to learn how to work together productively or peacefully.  Children back in the 1940’s were resourceful. They figured out how to occupy themselves on their own and asked for parental assistance only when necessary.  They resolved problems together with their peers, engaged in healthy imaginative play, spent more time playing outside in the fresh air and were happier as a result. 


Our children today can return to being cheerful once again, but they must learn how.  It will take time to undo the damage that has been done.  It is our job to remind our children to learn to figure things out on their own whenever possible. We need to talk to them about the concept of ‘turning their lemons into lemonade’.


Because children today are often encouraged to voice all their negative opinions about anything and everything, it is little wonder that they often feel unhappy. By teaching them to view the world as a sunny place, we can still acknowledge that yes, life is hard and challenging, but we can pull through and be happy in the end. We should discourage their constant complaining and encourage discussions about what they feel they can do to affect change.  If it is decided that a change can’t occur, you can help your child learn to accept this decision happily. You should encourage frequent discussions because repeated practice will help your child get used to using appropriate problem solving strategies that can eventually be used on their own, with their peers, in a variety of situations throughout their lifetime. By teaching children to independently use these problem solving strategies, their outlook on life will become positive and their disposition will be cheerful.  



  • During a quiet, happy moment, teach your child the meaning of the idiom “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.


  • During this discussion, talk about several examples that happened in your child’s life and yours where this idiom can be used  (i.e. when losing a game).


  • When talking about a specific problem, discuss strategies that can be used to affect change (i.e.  Sometimes I win and sometimes I don’t.  I like to win, but I don’t have to be unhappy because I lost.)  


  • If a situation cannot be changed discuss a positive approach to ‘making lemonade’ (i.e. “Even though I lost the game this time, maybe I will win next time”).


  • Continue these discussions when appropriate.  Move toward encouraging your child to figure out strategies on their own.


  • Encourage your child in a positive, light way to let you know when they have a ‘lemonade moment’.


  • Remember, “Practice makes permanent”.


Karen Daniels is a mother of six children and a teacher. She has found in her experience that by teaching children virtues, they can soar to great heights and can be happy, responsible and imaginative children.  Visit Karen’s blog at: 

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 © 2013, Karen Daniels

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  1. My daughter has been chastised for being too nice. Funny huh?

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