Happy Noises

I’ve had the opportunity to be around two children this week who have exhibited great exuberance and joy.  The first child, a pre-school age girl, was allowed to emote through squeals and laughter.  She wasn’t “shushed” or corrected.  She was the epitome of happiness.  The second child, a first-grade boy, was equally as happy.  I noticed however, that every time he raised his voice or moved quickly, he was admonished to be careful or be quiet.  The little girl’s face was alight with smiles.  The little boy furtively smiled or giggled, would glance at his parents and stop himself.  Although the little boy was quieter overall and probably supposedly better behaved, he didn’t elicit the same sense of lightness that the little girl did.  He struggled to keep a lid on his feelings and it showed.  Of course squeals and laughter must be muted in some situations, but often we as parents squelch our children’s expressions of joy without even thinking about it.  It is almost reflexive for some parents to say, “Shush, be careful, easy now, don’t do that, quiet, no, no, no.”  All it takes to change this inclination is self-awareness and a willingness to change.  Embrace the giggles, for a child that laughs today will be a positive and upbeat adult tomorrow.

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