Raising Positive Thinkers
As I look at my now-grown children and my beautiful granddaughters and brand new grandson, I feel incredibly blessed for many reasons. I love and cherish being surrounded by such a positive, happy group of people. Even during my breast cancer battle, my husband and children were my cheerleaders, keeping my spirits up and helping me laugh through some of the most difficult days. I take a lot of the credit for how they turned out, and attribute the bulk of their positive outlook to thoughtful parenting.
When I was raising my family — my daughter Mollie, now 37, and my son Cory, now 32 — I always strived to give them happy childhood experiences that allowed them to feel good about themselves. As a Grandmother, I strive to recreate those same experiences with my grandchildren.
But raising positive thinkers takes patience and a lot of practice. Here are just some of my recommended techniques for helping your kids see life through a glass is half full lens.
1. Positive Thinking Starts with YOU – That’s right, children emulate what they see and experience and you are their shining example. Do you come home from work moody? When an unexpected bill comes in the mail or you lose your glasses for the millionth time, do you completely fall apart? Is your internal dialogue negative and critical? To help foster positivity at home, you need to first model it yourself. Make sure that you’re practicing what you preach; show your children how you look at the bright side when something challenging comes your way and they’ll quickly learn that that’s the best way to deal with daily frustrations and adversity.
2. Positive Reinforcement: Parents frequently use reinforcement the wrong way. For example, when a child wins their tennis match, parents’ heap on praise using phrases like “Way to go” and “That’s my boy!” When that same child loses a match, those parents tend to go quiet and simply ignore the situation because the child lost. They think it’s best not to say anything at all, which is a big mistake. This situation is a prime opportunity to teach positive thinking. Sure, they might have lost that particular match, but there were definitely some parts that they did well. Pick out the positive parts of the match that they lost – whether it was a great serve or that they displayed good sportsmanship – and let them know that their efforts have been noticed. You know the saying– it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. This is a great opportunity to help train your children to look for the positive aspects even in seemingly negative situations.
3. Play UP Their Natural Strengths – Another way to raise positive thinkers is by emphasizing the greatest natural strengths your child possesses. Kids have a natural instinct to be positive thinkers when they are young, and you can use that effectively. If your child has a lofty goal, encourage them like my parents did to me when I told them I wanted to open my own bridal salon. Use phrases like “I know you can do it if you work hard!” and “You got this, you can accomplish anything once your mind is made up!” Showing absolutely confidence in your child’s abilities will help them to not just think – but to KNOW – that the sky’s the limit!
4. Focus on the Good– You need to teach your children to focus on the positive and not on the negative, to always look for the silver lining. Start paying attention to what your kids tell you when they come home from school. Do they focus on the moments that made them happy or laugh, or did they tell you when they were sad and angry? I’m not saying that they should never tell you when something is bothering them, instead help them focus first on the good parts of their day and minimize some of the bad parts. Instead of focusing on the fact that they didn’t ace their spelling test, encourage them to lead with the fact that they helped a friend when their books fell or that they included the new girl in school when jumping rope during recess.
I am so proud to live in a family of positive thinkers. My kids tell me that this early “positivity” training had a lot to do with their happiness and success today. Mollie is the mother to my granddaughters Caroline and Charlotte, and she recently opened White Label Studio, a boutique public relations and marketing firm here in Georgia. Cory is a brand new Dad to my grandson Jack, and also a business owner. I love that he joined the family business, and seeing him thrive at the salon makes me so proud. It truly brings me indescribable joy watching my kids make their way in this world with an attitude that nothing can hold them back!
Have you raised positive thinkers and are helping shape the mindset of the next generation? Share your tips with us in the comments!
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