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Are Children Born Happy?

Are children born happy? Science says yes, but considerable attention and intervention is required. If you are in tune with your child's emotions, moods, personalities, then .....

My kids are different. Surprise, surprise! One is easy going, has a good sense of humor, is quiet and somewhat shy. The other is hard work, thinks a joke or bout of sarcasm is a personal attack, is the first to be noticed and if not noticed will make sure that is corrected.

So where do they come from? Me and my husband, and not much had changed in our lives when either was conceived or born. It’s just their make-up, it’s just nature, or is it? Are happy kids just born that way? Many scientists and parents would say yes. But no matter where your child lands on the spectrum, being aware of their natural temperament helps you figure out how best to support them in becoming a content, fulfilled adult.

Lise Eliot, author of What's Going on in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, stresses that while happiness is a mood rather than an inborn trait, certain aspects of your baby's natural temperament - whether she's optimistic or pessimistic, shy or bold - may play a part in determining how happy she becomes. And while scientists can't point to a "happiness" gene or isolate a "moody" nodule in the brain, an abundance of research shows that your baby's temperament - their basic emotional and social style - is hardwired in their brain.

So if your grade-schooler is genetically wired to be anxious or easily upset, does that mean they will become an unhappy teen and a depressed adult? Not at all, it's essential to remember that childhood development is a potent cocktail of nature and nurture.

The idea is to take what nature has given your baby and nurture them for a lifetime of happiness. Although temperament is determined by nature, that doesn't mean it's permanent. Temperament is modified by experience, and you end up with what we call personality.

Your child's personality is governed by the frontal lobes of the brain. This is where scientists can actually pinpoint the source of positive and negative emotions. We experience "good" feelings in the left frontal cortex and "bad" feelings in the right. It appears that people with happier dispositions have more activity in their left frontal lobes.

The good news about your child's happiness is that the balance between the two is not fixed - the frontal lobes shape themselves based on your child's experiences. Central to those experiences, of course, is your child's relationship with you. In fact, the frontal lobes continue developing through at least the late teens, so you have plenty of time to help shape your child's personality and attitudes.

If you are in tune with your child’s emotions, moods, personality, call them what you want, and deal with them as they arise then you will raise a well-balanced individual. It’s that simple.

See more articles by Kim, child development specialist at www.WeCouldJustChat.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Glen K Dunbar June 05, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Politely speaking. Well, my life always has and still is unhappy and miserable. It is the main fault of my Mom who was too strict and still is. I can't afford to move out or I would. I am now 51 (ugh) and stuck in a miserable life forever. I do not wish my fate on anyone...even those of You here who try to con me by saying it is my own fault and also try to con me by saying how great my life is and how you wish you had it as good as I. I do respect your OPINION> Yet, you are so wrong. Woeful Glen
Christine E. June 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Hey Glen... Time to cut the cord and stop blaming mom for everything. You're 51 (ugh). At some point your life becomes your own responsibility and your state of being becomes the product of your own life choices.
Terry June 05, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln Hi, Glen- Did you ever think about what would make you happy? It helps to sit down and write a list. Then, set about achieving the items on that list. Break each item into small steps and take steps toward at least one of your goals each day. It's amazing how much better even the smallest achievement can make you feel, not to mention your newly discovered understanding that happiness is not as elusive as you once thought. Thinking good thoughts for you and wishing you the very best!
Glen K Dunbar June 05, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Well, I do LOVE to write :) I also tend to forget why I am depressed. So, if I write it out I might remember. Plus, keep track of what I want solved for me. Thanks Terry Not a bad idea.
Glenn Wolff, LCSW June 05, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Great advice! Good luck Glen!

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