Raising Children to Live on the Brighter Side of Life
Did you know that children as young as 5 years of age begin to understand that thoughts can influence our emotions? They know that while negative thoughts make us feel bad, a positive thought makes us feel better, so how can we foster positivity in our children?
You are your child’s best role model! Express optimism openly and let positivity show in the conversations you have with your child. Ask questions like “What are you looking forward to today”, “Did you enjoy yourself at school? Which was your favourite part?”. Avoid questions like, “What happened today?” or “Were you being naughty in school today?”.
The first set of questions models taking a positive perspective; the latter implies that you are only interested in the negative experiences. Over time, your child may go through each day looking out for the negatives to tell mummy and daddy; or simply shrug their shoulders and say nothing unusual happened.
Use Positive Reinforcement
When managing behaviour, focus on what your child is doing right rather than concentrating on wrong actions or behaviours. Children are more likely to display desired behaviours when they know what they have done right.
There are plenty of big and little things to celebrate in life—whether it be performing in front of an audience for the first time or savouring that last bit of ice cream in the tub.
Show your child that there are many things in life that we can be thankful about. When things aren't going well, teach your child to hope and appreciate even the smallest blessings.
Acknowledge All Emotions
We all experience days when we're just bummed about everything. We’re only human; we get sad, angry, frustrated and anxious from time to time. These emotions are just as valid as any other emotion. It's important to teach our children that it's okay to feel bad sometimes, but we shouldn’t let these emotions dictate our life.
Guide your child to reframe unpleasant situations. If it's raining and we can't play outside, acknowledge your child's disappointment. Then, suggest ways to deal with the negative event positively, “It's going to make us feel even more upset if we keep thinking about the rain. Let's find something fun to do while waiting!”
A positive approach to life can boost your child's self-esteem and overall mental well-being. Positive children tend to build healthy relationships with others; they are resilient in the face of failure and often find the courage to take on challenges. How else will you inspire your child to adopt a positive outlook in life?