I get it. You’re a mama and you’re worried about your kid. Rather than beaming with positivity they’re moping about the place, reluctant to engage with anyone. Maybe you’re worried because they’re always so negative.
I hear you. I’ve been there. Here, I’m giving you seven easy ways to help your child be more positive… without feeling weird!
Building positivity is hard
Positive attitudes are not the mainstay of our society. Look at the news, reality tv, movies… it’s hard to get away from negative attitudes. Many of us have grown up with a dose of complaining and negative reinforcement from our parents.
‘Don’t do that, everyone will laugh at you’
And, of course, you’ll catch yourself passing on these snippets to your kids too. You’re horrified when it happens, but it’s ok… You’re the catalyst that’s going to break the chain.
So, you got a healthy dose of negativity growing up. What is pivotal though is whether we maintain it as we grow older. It’s our “inner voice” that perpetuates these negative themes. The words we say to ourselves to justify why things aren’t going the way we planned.
‘You’ve always been a failure.’
‘You’ll never be good at art’
‘You’re not a people person’
These words come from our subconscious. The part of the mind where our deepest beliefs and values live. That’s why many people don’t realise they have a negative attitude. It’s not in their conscious mind. And that’s why they find it hard to change. The subconscious is not readily accessed.
But it’s not impossible.
The first step is to work on recognising these thoughts. We can start to feel them as they begin to form. Then, we can counter them with opposing and, let’s face it, more realistic thoughts over time. And I emphasise this need for practice because many people give up too soon. This kind of change slowly seeps into your subconscious and reprograms it.
One important thing:
THIS WHOLE PROCESS IS MUCH EASIER THE YOUNGER YOU ARE!
That’s because there’s less conditioning to unlearn and a child’s mind is much more flexible.
And that, my friend, is why building a positive attitude early on is vital.
Because you’re reading this means YOU ROCK!
A note on safety and sensibility
Wanting to build positivity in a struggling child is one thing. Knowing your limits as a parent and when to seek help from outside sources is another.
According to The Mayo Clinic symptoms to seek advice for are:
- Mood swings
- Behavioural challenges
- Unusual weight loss
- Performance changes in school
If you observe any of these or any other behaviours that concern you, please reach out to your GP. Mental health issues are best caught early on.
Ways to encourage a positivity in children
1. Modelling for positivity…
We’ve already covered how to change our thinking to be more positive. But what goes on in our own heads usually stays in our own head. Modelling is where we highlight the positivity in everyday life out loud so that our kids can hear. By doing this, positivity becomes the norm and so is less of an alien concept.
Modelling can be:
“How kind of that gentleman to hold the gate open for you! And you used your manners. I’m so proud of you!”
But it is also helpful if your child hears you reframing your negativity too. That can look like:
“Oh. It’s started to rain and now I can’t get the bedding washed. But that’s ok, it means I can take time off and we can have some rainy day fun!”
If that feels like too much of a step, try making it a game for your child. After dinner, make it a family tradition to see who can name the most positive things about the day!
The strategies below may take time to feel natural. But it is worth the effort!
2. Keep a gratitude jar
This is a wonderful way to help your child visualise the way that tiny snippets of positivity can add up.
Pick up a pretty mason jar and decorate it together. Make it a daily habit to write down one thing that was amazing about that day.
At the end of the year, you can look back at all the happy moments from the past twelve months. This makes a pretty awesome family tradition for New Years.
Here are two tutorials for gratitude jars to get you started:
And here’s a wonderful post the can help if you or your kidlet gets stuck on a lacklustre day 🙂
3. Keep a diary
I’m a big fan of journaling. I also believe that different styles of journaling work for different situations. Different tools for different jobs, right?
Encouraging them to keep a gratitude journal is providing space for reflection. And let me tell you, that is one mighty powerful life skill right there!
You could even make it a joint practice! Head out, pick a journal that speaks to you and your child. They write on the left sides, you write on the right. Or choose separate journals and enjoy that quiet reflection time together.
4. Daily review
But what if If you’re at the beginning of your journey in positivity? Or your child has somehow developed a deeply negative mindset? If this is the case you might consider a daily debrief.
In the evening, before bed, sit with your child and ask about their day. When the negativity comes up, redirect to the positivity that they may be overlooking. This isn’t always practical or natural to do in the middle of the conversation, so wait until the end. That way you finish on a good note, ready for pleasant dreams.
“Your friend may have chosen not to play with you today and that made you sad… But hey, you ended up playing with someone different and discovered what a cool friend they are! And, even though you’ve struggled with your teacher in the past, she listened to you today. Letting you move seats so you could see was so kind.”
Of course, this all depends on whether you can get your child to open up and I know how hard that can be! By practising, it becomes the norm and slowly and surely they’ll begin to open up more.
5. Keep an eye on your marbles!
Younger children, or those who tend to be more visual, could find some of these talking strategies difficult. One solution is to keep a pair of marble jars. One jar for negative things, one for positive.
Have your chat with your child at the end of the day. This time pop a marble in the happy jar for each of the good things that happen ed. Pop one in the sad jar for things that didn’t go so well. You could even choose different coloured marbles.
Here’s a caveat: Your little one will naturally reel off all the bad stuff in the beginning. That means you’ll have to work extra hard to get to the good stuff and achieve balance. As this becomes ingrained, you’ll show how a positive attitude leads to even more good things.
6. Keep a positivity plant
This is another hands-on, fun activity. Depending on your child, could even carry through to teendom.
Update: My youngest who struggles with positivity the most LOVES the positivity plant. The first day he saw that the plant had grown a leaf overnight he was overjoyed. Squeals and stampy feet and everything!
- A roll of plain paper (or several large sheets)
- Coloured pens or coloured paper
- An envelope
- Space on the back of a door
The idea here is to cover the back of a door in some paper. We’re going to start out by planting our seed in the ‘ground’. Our seed of gratitude.
Next, we’re going to start off our positivity plant. Draw (or collage) a plant stem about 60cm high. From the plant stem, we’re going to draw offshoots leaving enough room for each to have leaves top and bottom.
Once complete, pin to the door.
Next, cut out several leaf shapes from coloured paper.
That evening, sit down and talk about all the positive things that happened that day. When they go to bed stick one thing on each leaf. Stick the leaves onto the plant branches to show how we are growing through gratitude. Watch their faces when they discover the plant has grown in the morning!
As the branches fill up, add a little bit more stem to your plant and add extra branches. For an extra touch, you can write the date each branch was grown.
Everyone sees the plant grow taller over time, helped along by a sprinkling of gratitude. And you get to watch as your child’s personality shines.
7. Keep a scrapbook or art journal
Gratitude helps build fond memories and yet memories are not always verbal. Older children may find gratitude combined with art a fab way to express themselves. Consider a scrapbook or its messier cousin the art journal. Things like event tickets or photos can then be included with their journaling.
Here are some awesome people working in this area:
And that’s a wrap!
Your mind should now be churning over ideas on how to handle the after school sads. Remember: Happiness in the home doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable, it can be fun!
If you want more juicy info like this, come join the party on social! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. If you’re super passionate about child mental wellbeing, feel free to share with any parenting communities you’re part of 🙂