- Talk about the positive- Constant complaining, from kids and parents, brings everyone in the family down. Instead, try focusing on parts of the day that went well. This can be great exercise for family dinner, with everyone taking a turn to share positive events or accomplishments, or try a family gratitude journal as part of bedtime routine.
- Give opportunities for success and trying new things- Kids experience a boost of pride and confidence when they can be successful on their own! To practice at home, give children age-appropriate chores and the chance to do them well. Try new activities and promote the fun of trying new activities, rather than automatic proficiency. Kids will be excited to show you their new skills and accomplishments and embrace the fun of trying something for the first time.
- Help your child handle it- When your child is feeling hurt or sad, parents understandably want to step in and try to fix the situation- but this doesn’t help your child to develop problem-solving skills. Instead, talk with your child about what’s bothering him or her and then guide your child in developing an appropriate response plan.
- Reframe- When faced with a frustrating concept or more naturally talented soccer peers, many children will interpret the situation using a negative thought such as “I’m bad at math” or “I’ll never learn how to dribble.” This mindset, though, doesn’t allow for progress or change. Reframe those thoughts by normalizing your child’s experience (“Lots of kids on your team have to learn to dribble”), mentioning another situation in which your child was successful (“Remember when you learned subtraction? That was hard at first too, but you kept working hard and now you’re great at it”) and remaining hopeful (“This is a hard math worksheet, but you can do hard things.”)
- Be realistic and hopeful- Optimism requires realistic thinking, not just positive thinking. If you child is worried upset about something that’s realistic but not pleasant, such as making new friends at a new school, acknowledge the experience first. Share any relevant experiences from your own childhood and reflect what your child is telling you- “It’s hard to move to a new place. You’re worried that you won’t find any friends you like as much as your friends from our old neighborhood.” Once your child feels heard, he or she is more likely to move to problem-solving and ask for your help in making positive changes.
Resilience and optimism have a range of well-document positive effects on mental and physical health for kids and adults alike! Below are some tips on helping your child and your family develop positive thinking habits.
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Parent and Child Psychological Services is a private practice serving children and families in the Sarasota, Florida area. The practice is owned and operated by Dr. Gibson, a Licensed Psychologist who is Board Certified in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.