There are lots of inspiring sayings floating about on social media and many are lovely but sometimes you come across one that really sticks. The other day I saw this: “Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on the hard days you know better ones are coming”. It really hit home, especially given the current circumstances for many of us. It also got me thinking about the power of positivity, for adults and children alike. To be positive isn’t to put on brave faces and smile our way through everything, but to acknowledge a situation, experience many feelings and yet still be able to imagine a brighter tomorrow.
Learning to cope with disappointment, sadness and even fear is a vital life skill — life is not perfect and having the ability to navigate setbacks and bounce back is essential. Nurturing positivity and resilience in children can offer them lifelong benefits. According to positive psychology pioneer Barbara Fredrickson, while children can have a natural tendency toward negativity, we can help them overcome this by encouraging and supporting children to achieve a 3:1 positive to negative thoughts ratio. Let’s explore ways that we can achieve this.
Helping children to build positivity and resilience
Build children’s self-esteem: If a child can see their own strengths and the good in themselves, they are more likely to be able see the good in things outside of themselves. Self-esteem is like a glowing positivity from within and can be built through sincere praise, independence and even music, yoga and dance!
Model positivity and optimism: If we want to see children feeling positive, we need to show it to them. Say you had planned to take children outside to play but it is pouring down with rain. Instead of cursing the rain and muttering about plans being ruined, why not take the opportunity to try a new game inside. Verbalise this journey and the feelings that go along with it: I feel sad that we can’t go outside and play, but I wonder if this new game will be fun anyway? Then, we can head outside to play when it stops raining.
Allow for disappointments: It can seem easier to frantically try to replace a lost favourite toy, but consider letting a child discover that there will be disappointments in life at times — and that it is okay. A child can then discover that they can find another toy to love or that when the shop is open it may be able to be replaced. Either way, this experience can enable them to learn for themselves that everything is going to be okay and therefore capable of being more positive about future disappointments.
Practice mindfulness: Being present in the moment can help children to learn to take note of the beauty around them and the things they can be grateful for. This can help people feel more connected with the world and satisfied with life.
Encouraging a positive mindset in children can better equip them to see the good things around them and help them to be more resilient and feel happier throughout their lives. The Bonkers Beat shop has a number of resources to support your positive thinking journey with children, including affirmation cards and our ‘Calendar of Positive Thoughts’. You can visit our online store here.