The pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right of all men or is it. Yes, pursuing happiness is something we can all do. Still, for any human right to be perusable and obtainable, the tools necessary to traverse the path to the destination must be available. Happiness is a consequence of specific mental, emotional, and behavioral skills. Without having the specific knowledge and skills that allow for “The Pursuit of Happiness” by an individual, the goal has limitations on its fulfillment. Saying everyone has a right to happiness or that you want equality in providing the availability to pursue happiness without providing the essential knowledge and skills that allow success and well-being is an empty promise. We need to stop the unavailability of happiness that is a direct consequence of not offering individuals the developmental and experiential knowledge that develops the underlying skills critical for better grades, future success, personal growth, and well-being or the pursuit of happiness.

Developmental and experiential knowledge comes from experiences and environments in early childhood that allow a child to feel safe and secure. Children learn to feel safe and secure when they have enough food to eat, sleep in a clean bed, and have parents and caregivers who respond with warmth and caring. Suppose we provided these basic building blocks in early childhood and youth. In that case, we may be focusing on the root enabler of success and well-being,  allowing the possibility of the pursuit of happiness. When children experience a positive, responsive environment, and when children feel safe and secure, they develop intrinsic underlying supportive skills such as patience, optimism, self-esteem, confidence, emotional control, impulse control, and rational thinking. Over time these frequent safe and secure positive interactive experiences and environments create positive emotional memories that build up a residual or reserve of underlying supportive skills that a child carries with them into the future.  With these underlying skills, we significantly increase our ability to cope with stress, develop positive relationships, learn in school, and acquire a good-paying job.

A lack of proper support, not being responded to with warmth earlier in life, neglect, abuse, or poor environmental conditions teaches children to feel unsafe, afraid, distrustful, unsupported, and unoptimistic. When children have the proper underlying supportive skills, they will learn in school, develop positive relationships, and have the skills to pursue success and happiness. If they don’t have these skills, they will be less likely to be successful and happy, depending on their acquired skill levels. Giving parents the knowledge and methodology for practicing and implementing these underlying skills will better support children, building up this residual of underlying supportive skills, creating a positive self-perception about the ability to succeed and be happy as a consequence. A parent does not need to be perfect to better support their child. A few simple, consistent conversations and practices can increase a child’s self-perceived value. As the child learns through these conversations and supportive interactions, parents increase their positive self-worth, motivating them to interact more with their children.

It may be that when a child enters school, their ability to learn and become a productive member of society has already been established, dependent on their self-perception as being negative or positive. Instead of aiming to improve the grade point average or correct anti-social behavior in an individual, why not first teach individuals and families how to develop the necessary interactive and supportive skills, diminishing the need for intervention later. Through education and courses that teach the cause and effect of specific experiences, conversations, and environments, we can affect a child’s future. This experiential and developmental learning allows a child to develop the underlying supportive skills that create a residual of confidence, emotional control, impulse control, and rational thinking. Learning in the classroom is more accessible, with less need to learn through fear, anger, or insecurity and act out for personal recognition. When we feel safe and supported, grades and societal interaction skills improve naturally. We need to recognize that if we impart specific skills at the proper time in early childhood and youth, we increasing a child’s success potential. Doing this will decrease less productive social interaction and behavior in kids and adults later, increasing the ability to pursue the happiness we are supposedly afforded.

There is no need for parents to do extensive research on what gives kids the skills necessary for success and happiness. Suppose we teach parents how to interact with their children and the consequence of these interactions. In that case, we can reduce the lack of success and well-being or happiness in adulthood. Sometimes as parents, we don’t completely understand how to teach these skills to our children; they use meager comments or have limited discussions on important topics. Teaching these skills is not a mainstream ideology? I believe it should be. We want to be our best selves and be happy yet fail to recognize the need to instill the required knowledge into society at the appropriate time in a child’s life that allows happiness to manifest.  We need to establish courses that teach parents how to interact with their children better.

When parents have frequent conversations on specific topics, many dynamics related to developing the underlying supportive skills that allow future success and happiness naturally manifest from these regular conversations. Through various discussions on anger, fear, and sadness, children become aware of their emotions within themselves and others. Children learn to regulate the feeling, develop empathy, and learn appropriate ways to express emotions and the effects of the way they express emotions on themselves and others.

Incorporating certain concepts and conversations in early childhood and youth allows the development of certain protective factors that keep stress or response to stress at a minimum. Emotional control, relationship skills, impulse control, resiliency, patience, optimism, confidence, impulse control, and self-regulation help children and youth deal more effectively with the challenging circumstances that life will present in the future. Specific interactions and conversations enhance positive feelings, self-efficacy, and prosocial behavior and support relationships with family and peers, leading to greater success and well-being.

Of course, no parent can teach these skills to their children if they constantly struggle to make ends meet. We, as responsible people, need to provide an environment where people can earn a decent living and have some time to spend with their kids without having to work multiple jobs earning minimal income.

If we deny children learning critical skills when they are most receptive, we may lose the child to fear, anger or sadness, and a poor self-image forever. When children have less access to the pursuit of happiness because they lack the intrinsic skills required to learn, develop positive relationships, they tend to become frustrated, anxious, depressed, and act out through self-defeating behaviors.  We can increase the number of children that grow up feeling confident, productive, and happy. Why don’t we?

In closing, it’s essential to understand that we should not focus on content knowledge as the sole or primary indicator for intelligence or future success and well-being. Developmental and experiential knowledge is critical for better grades, future success, personal growth, relationship development, well-being, and the pursuit of happiness.

Everybody’s got the right to fight for happiness. Let’s give everyone the chance to hold their own.

Keep learning.

Louis Scotti

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