Joy Series, Part II: Joy in children

Joy Series: Part 2 – Joy in children

When I first conceptualized this JOY series, I thought of a few topics to weave joy into and of all the ones I considered, children seemed the most obvious. It seemed almost laughably easy to write a blog post about early childhood education, children, and JOY. Like, too easy. I figured I would find so much anecdotal information about the incredible joy that children are to be around that it would practically write itself. Well, guess what? It didn’t write itself. And I didn’t find a plethora of stories replete with elations about children. I found articles written about being a parent and the happiness that comes from children, but even that wasn’t the easy sell I thought it would be. So, what gives? Is it because children really don’t bring anyone joy? Is it because the challenges outweigh the good so people just focus on that? No. It doesn’t seem to be that either. 

I think it comes down to the simple principle that joy is one of the most difficult feelings to quantify for research. In other words, it’s too hard to put into words how children make us feel. However, when someone is writing an article or submitting a post to research, you really do need the words. I found “Joy in teaching,” “Joy in parenting,” “Joyful qualities in children,” but nothing about how children bring us joy. It seems it really is too hard to write about. In fact, there is really only one well known study about happiness for that exact reason.

But, I do not give up easily and I am convinced that there is something worthwhile here. I’m sure you have heard the viral statistic that the average adult laughs 17 times a day, while the average child laughs 300 times a day. A striking difference. When was the last time you laughed 17 times in a day? Can you remember a time you laughed more than that? I’ll be totally honest, I have loved my time as a university professor, but I can’t remember a single day that I belly laughed out loud during my tenure. In contrast, the last time I belly laughed since being home with my kids was – today. And yesterday. I’m serious. I also remember laughing daily when I was a preschool teacher. Laughter and children just go hand in hand. When children are truly laughing at something wonderful it would be hard not to strike a smile alongside them.



Finding joy at work every day may be a challenge even if you work at a chocolate factory. Work is filled with challenges and stressors that detract from even our best moments. But this is what sets early childhood educators apart from the average working person. We get a firsthand look at the sweet moments every day that cause those treasured belly laughs. Whether you are the director who hears the giggles and laughter in the halls, or a substitute teacher who gets the chance to see new faces (and smiles) regularly. Children, with their sticky hands, endless questions, curious ideas, and bountiful knock-knock jokes are a wellspring of JOY. The great task of our mission as adults and educators is to somehow balance drawing from that well while simultaneously ensuring that it never runs dry. And somehow, there is even joy in that.

Contributing Expert Author

Samantha Reeves, M.A.

Samantha has over 25 years of experience in the field of child development. She has worked in all manner of professions as they relate to children including beginning her career as a floater teacher with 3 units, to a multisite center
regional director, and most recently, a professor in the Child and Adolescent Studies department at CSUF.

Samantha earned her B.S. at Cal State Fullerton in the same department she would later instruct in. She has a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University where she focused her research on attachment theory and attachment related disorders.

Samantha lives in Anaheim Hills with her husband and 4 children. She recently made the decision to put her teaching career on pause to stay home with her kids, but plans to return to the classroom in some format in the future.

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