Five Simple Ways to Raise a Positive Child
We all want to raise positive, happy children, but how can we teach optimism? Our Zen Den and Peace Out mindfulness videos explore these ideas. Here we’ve pulled together some more thoughts on how we can help our kids develop a positive mental attitude…
1. Model it yourself
Research has shown that children as young as 5 have the ability to understand the difference between positive and negative thoughts. As Christi Bamford, a professor studying the ability of young children to think optimistically explains, “The strongest predictor of children’s knowledge about the benefits of positive thinking – besides age – was not the child’s own level of hope and optimism, but their parents”. Creating an environment full of positivity, praise and encouragement can do wonders for the outlook of your little ones. This could be encouraging a hobby that they enjoy or simply taking a more positive attitude to daily life even in challenging situations.
2. Teach kids to notice negative thoughts
Teaching a child to take a positive approach requires helping them understand what negative thoughts are. The thing is, this can mean going against your natural instinct as a parent of trying to take your child’s discomfort away the moment it arises. Instead we have to help kids understand what it is they are feeling. Psychologist Susan David has researched the ways we can help children learn from a negative situation by allowing them to show the emotions they’re experiencing, recognise the feelings and reflect when they have gone. Our Zen Den episode ‘Yes You Can!’ explores this idea too – how we can spot negative thoughts as they come up and flip them.
3. Speak positively
Saying things out loud amplifies positive thoughts, helping us to believe in ourselves and our abilities. Mantras like ‘I can do this’ are a brilliant way to tackle the challenges that come with negative thoughts. Watch this father using this very idea. He takes his little girl through a series of positive mantras and beliefs before the school day starts…
4. Experience gratitude
Reminding ourselves of the parts of our lives that we love can immediately give us a sense of optimism and gratitude. Asking a child to think about the things they enjoy and the activities they like encourages appreciation, which naturally creates a positive attitude. As an activity, why not ask your child to draw something they’re very thankful for, giving them time as they draw to reflect on the reasons why they love this part of their life. This is an activity that can be repeated and will often change over time, but will always encourage a reflection on the positive parts of the child’s life.
5. Help kids develop positive ‘Anchors’
‘Anchors’ are thoughts, pictures, objects or sounds which we can use to make us feel good. They have a positive meaning for us. Some kids do this naturally with a blanket or a teddy bear – when they feel unsafe, they can just grab it to feel better – but we can all do this just as well in our minds. It’s the principle behind the visualisations that sportspeople use. You create an anchor in your mind, and access it when you need it – to feel positive, safe or calm. Our latest Peace Out video is all about The Magic Treehouse – a safe place to go when you want to feel secure. Try it out with your kids!