According to science, it’s normal for people to dwell more on negative thoughts than on positive ones, and this can be even more true for children.
It can be hard to remain positive at all times. It can be even harder to try and keep our children positive when we are feeling not so. Unfortunately, science says it’s very normal for people to dwell more on negative thoughts than on positive ones, and this can be even more true for children.
This negativity is usually driven by fear, doubt, or shame, which produce stress chemicals in the brain. Ultimately, a negative attitude can shape how a child sees themselves and the world around them.
But as parents, there’s plenty we can do to help our children develop a more positive attitude about themselves and their world.
Are Negative Thoughts Bad?
There are no “bad” emotions. All thoughts and feelings are valid. Both positive and negative thoughts and emotions play a valuable role in how we process the world around us. We like to call negative emotions the “difficult” ones, which are important too. For example, sadness can help us process difficult times, and we would have no moral compass if we never felt shame or guilt. Similarly, trying to be happy all the time alienates us from our emotions, which simply isn’t healthy. In fact, recent psychological research indicates that emotional avoidance is one of the main causes of many psychological issues.
What Can You Do Instead?
Instead, we can teach our little ones to accept difficult emotions and let them pass in a healthy way. We can encourage positive thinking and positive affirmations. Science shows our brains can actually be trained to be more emotionally resilient and to respond to certain emotions in a healthier manner. This can be accomplished by engaging in mental exercises that help “rewire” the brain.
Here are some easy tips to help you help them:
1. Help them accept their emotions
The aged assumption that “boys don’t cry, and girls should always be girly” can hinder a child’s creativity and ability to tap into their source of love for themselves and others. Fostering emotional wellbeing among children has actually been shown to avoid “mental illness” later in life, along with many other health and social benefits.
Teach your child how to laugh, cry, and express their joy, and that it’s ok to do so. Let them live in an environment where they feel safe enough to communicate what they’re feeling, and what they want in life.
Have your child list three things they are grateful for every morning. It doesn’t have to be big and can easily be done at the kitchen table eating breakfast or on the way to school. Listing things we are grateful for helps to train our brain to see the good.
3. Positive Affirmations
Have your child repeat positive affirmations in the mirror with you every day. Phrases like “I am creative, I am loved, I am safe, I am strong, I am a good friend, and I make a difference in the world” plants the seeds of positivity in their hearts, and impacts their lives in a tremendous way.
Nothing can stop your child from achieving greatness when they make positive thinking their habit.
4. Surround Them With Positive People
Surround children with a positive, uplifting environment. Explain to them that they are a product of the people they spend the most time with, and to try to associate with other people who also think positive. From this fertile positive environment, they can move forward in helping others think positive as well.
5. Ask Them About The Best Parts Of Their Day
Instead of just asking how their day went, ask them about the positive things that happened during their day. These specific questions help them focus on their achievements rather than disappointments. When children stay focused on thinking positive, their positive experiences will only continue to grow.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.