What makes a joyful child?

At Little Shepherds’ Schoolhouse, our mission is to nurture children to be joyful and responsible learners, active community members and positive contributors to society.

But what do we mean by “joyful”? 

Joy vs Happiness

When you ask parents what they want for their kids, the most common reply would be that they want their children to be happy.

We believe joy goes deeper than happiness. While happiness is an outward expression, joy is an inner feeling that is able to endure hardship and trials, and is connected with meaning and purpose.

A person may pursue happiness, but happiness is fleeting, it is an emotion which varies according to outward circumstances. Something disappoints us, and we lose that happiness. 

Yet, Joy is a choice and it is also a central aspect of Christian faith because we believe it is given to us by God. This Joy reorients us away from our self-focused lives and to go beyond ourselves, to look at others, and the world. Joy can be a spiritual thing, and it is selfless and sacrificial.

As a parent, there is nothing you want more than to make sure your child is happy. However full-time happiness is a myth, one which is impossible to attain. There is no one thing which makes your child happy or remain that way for long.

As such, we encourage everyone to go beyond happiness, and focus on Joy.

What makes a joyful child?

There are skills you can teach your child to help them experience joy. Look beyond external stimuli, such as giving in to your child’s whims or just offering them screen-time as a reward.

1. Validation
Validating your child’s feelings means acknowledging how your child is feeling in the moment — whether it’s happy, sad, angry, or some other big emotion — without judgment, expectation, or comment on what they “should” be feeling instead.

By doing this, it can result in peace and contentment, and develop a healthy friendship between child and parent that can be full of pleasure and joy.

2. Teaching resilience

Allow your child to discuss their challenges when dealing with hard situations.

  • Talk to them
  • Let them speak about how they managed to adapt, transform or bounce back.
  • Don’t scold them or tell them what they’ve done wrong.
  • Make sure your response to “failure” is “I just haven’t figured this out YET, but I will the next time.


This helps your child with problem-solving independently instead of always turning to their parents for help, and problem-solving is a skill that will stay with your kids for life!

3. Allow autonomy and self-efficacy

Let your child have control over their own decision-making and be confident in their decisions. This allows them to believe in themselves and develop a healthy self-esteem.

4. Empathy

One aspect of Joyfulness is being able to look beyond our self-focused lives. So teach your child to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is important for children to learn from young to appreciate each other’s differences and develop understanding and empathy.

5. Mindfulness and Emotional Control

Mindfulness may not come naturally to most kids, but it can be learned. Practicing mindfulness typically involves breathing exercises. Parents can help your child by encouraging them to be aware of their feelings and learn to calm their bodies and minds when they feel they are getting out of control.

At home, try your best to create a relaxed, positive environment which can benefit behaviour, communication and emotional regulation.

You can help your children learn patience and explore feelings such as gratitude and love.


Practising GRACE

At LSS, we practice our core values G.R.A.C.E.:

  • Gratitude – To appreciate the efforts made by others
  • Respect – To show positive regard for all creation, accepting them as they are
  • Attitude – To act with prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice
  • Care – To express love and concern for family, community and the world
  • Empathy – To discern and be thoughtful of the feelings of others


Teachers at Little Shepherds’ Schoolhouse are dedicated to instilling our core virtues and developing character formation in our children. We believe our children can be inspired to embrace the love of learning and adopt positive changes for a holistic development.

Our children can then extend responsibility beyond self and be in harmony with the community and the environment, and all these build them up as joyful learners.

Make JOY a Habit!

Although we’ve mentioned that happiness is fleeting, you can make happiness a habit and over time, it becomes easy to find joy in everyday things. 

Constantly practice positive self-talk with yourselves and your children, practice gratitude and model them regularly. Be a cheerleader. Over time, your child will follow your lead. 

By consciously managing our moods and cultivating optimism, it can insulate us from unhappiness and create joy in our lives, and once we make such habits part of our lives, they become automatic and serve a protective function, making us more resilient.

Don’t forget physical activities too such as regular exercise, healthy eating and meditation which are also mood-lifters. Healthy outings such as walks in the park as a family always work too! 

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Albert Einstein

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