“Positive Physchology.” Sounds kind of “out-there” doesn’t it? However, the field of positive psychology is very real and very awesome! It seems there is so much negativity in the world, just turn on the news, pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio. The stories are mostly negative ones. I’m not blaming the media, in fact I don’t know if anyone can take the blame. The observation is that if we listen, we are surrounded by a lot of negativity. However, there is always a flip-side, a yin-yang, a light at the end of the tunnel. That is where positive psychology steps in. Actually, we do these things naturally, but in this day and age, it seems that we really NEED to be proactive in the discipline, to put in more reps to those positivity muscles. This especially holds true for our children.
I love kids! (I love adults too, but kids hold a special place in my heart). They have the ability to light up a room, to ask amazing questions, they are most definitely going to change the world (they already do). With all the negativity, I believe we need to be even more proactive in creating positive environments and instilling positive habits on our nation’s children, to improve the future for everyone. Here are a few things we can do to help our kids get their positivity juices flowing freely and often:
TALKING TO YOURSELF IS NOT CRAZY! Neurologists have found that we all have an inner voice, and most of the time that inner voice leans toward the negative. Stop and think about it. If you jotted down all the things your inner guy/gal says to you on a piece of paper, it would predominantly be unhappy. “I won’t get that job.” “I’m not good enough.” “I look overweight.” “Look at this weird zit on my forehead.” This inner voice is even more detrimental in children. The natural instinct is to think the worst. If little Suzy is sitting on the bus and her friend Jane decides to sit next to Billy, the first instinct (many times) is for Suzy to think “Jane doesn’t like me anymore. What did I do?” We need to train ourselves and our children to talk to ourselves with a different voice, a positive one. “Oh Jane just wants to talk with Billy today, I have time to read or talk with Jessica now.”
DON’T GET FRAMED. Many times throughout a child’s day, something negative will happen. They fall. They drop their lunch. Their Pokemon loses to someone else’s Pokemon (I think that is how that works, I still don’t really understand that whole thing). The point is negative/bad things happen. As adults, most of us know that everything flows, this too shall pass. However, children don’t know that yet. They can take one bad instance in a day and frame it to the entire day and there may even be spill-over to the next. We need to teach them that moments do not equal days. A bad moment/hour/etc does not create a completely bad day/week/month. We need to help them frame the moments into just that… moments, and then remember the positives that happened as well (there are ALWAYS positives).
GRATITUDE. Studies show that it is impossible to be stressed and grateful at the same time. IMPOSSIBLE. That is a strong word but very true. We need to practice gratitude in our own lives and teach our children to do the same. And it is called ‘practicing’ because it takes practice in order to improve. One great way: start a gratitude journal. We have a WordPress blog: https://gratitudeforflow.wordpress.com/ that my staff and I use. I also have one at home (as do my wife, and both my boys). We write 1-3 things we are grateful for each morning and then we write one success of the day in the evening after dinner. Once you start doing it, it is hard to stop at three, and that gratitude spills over into everything you do throughout the day. You notice how GREAT we all have it. Studies also show that when we are grateful, we secrete “good” hormones, blood pressure goes down, our heart works better, and others around us feel better as well. Gratitude is contagious… infect others!
GET TO NOT HAVE TO. Jon Gordon (great author) writes some amazing books for children and adults about positive thinking. Read The Energy Bus, The Positive Dog, You Win in The Locker Room First, The Seed, or more, I promise you will enjoy them. In one of his books, he talks about replacing “have to” with “get to.” “I have to go to school today?” How about “I get to go to school today.” When we (and our children) do that, it is amazing how we immediately feel grateful for the opportunities hidden behind our perceived routines.
EXERCISE IN EMPHASIZE THE POSITIVE. Studies also show that even a flash of the word “no” on a notecard causes our body to secrete negative hormones, increases stress and reduces mood. I’m not saying don’t ever say “no” to your child. We still need to protect and guide them and “NO” is a big part of that. However, we should also emphasize the positive parts. If your child brings up a negative experience, first of all understand and acknowledge it (don’t avoid), but then bring up some positives. “Dad I did horrible on my test. I’m no good at ___.” We first acknowledge it “I understand buddy, we can work on getting better at that.” And then we can accentuate positive “I know you will do better, and soon you will be as good at ___ as you are at ___.” Don’t let them dwell on negativity. Don’t avoid it, but don’t dwell.
EXAMPLE. All the above can and should be applied to us as adults as well. Children are ALWAYS learning from us (It’s like they are little spies ;). We need to be the example of what we want them to be, and by doing so, we just might improve our lives as well :).
These are just a few of the ways to foster positive feelings, emotions and to raise our children to exude happiness and joy, they way they should :). Warmest of Blessings to everyone! Thank YOU!
A few resources: