If you had the ability, you would shield your child from all of the negative things in the world. But, as we all know, that’s not possible. Your child will eventually grow up and have their own life. As parents, you want to assist your child in being prepared for the most difficult periods in their lives. You want to give your child the mental tools to navigate and weather the storm that is life.
Children mirror adults, particularly behaviors and actions. In their early years, children tend to be like sponges that absorb information. They even ask a lot of questions.
Make the most of your child’s formative years. Use this to your advantage to teach them good habits, traits, and skills that they’ll surely benefit from in the long run. One great tool to nurture in your child’s growth is positive thinking.
Positive Thinking Studies
Surely, you’re familiar with the effects of positive thinking and how it’s helpful in times of turbulence. But what exactly are these benefits? Why is it so important to teach your child to look at the bright side of things?
For one, positive thinking increases favorable health outcomes. In one of its studies conducted, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shared that optimistic women were found to be less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection. In addition, positive thinking is proven to mitigate worrying in patients diagnosed with Generalized Personality Disorder.
Do you know that holding positive thoughts about your child (e.g., believing in their abilities and competence) can increase their chances of achieving positive outcomes? Does positive thinking towards others contribute to their success? According to a study facilitated by the Pygmalion Effect by Robert Rosenthal, it’s possible! Rosenthal had promised certain teachers at the participating primary schools in this experiment that some of their pupils would experience an intellectual “growth spurt” during the academic year.
At the end of the year, these students scored higher in their tests. What teachers didn’t know is that there was no special procedure in identifying these promising students. In reality, Rosenthal randomly chose these students, yet because their teachers believed and expected them to perform the way they did, such was the outcome.
Children are the quickest imitators. They can pick up actions and words from just about anyone and anywhere (e.g., at school, what’s shown on TV, etc.). This is done through the process of modeling. Aside from this, behavior therapy is a positive resource to form good behaviors as well. Here’s how you can take advantage of their innate curiosity for the better.
Be an Example of Gratitude
What better way to relay positivity than by practicing gratitude?
Dr. Rober Emmons, a professor of psychology and a scientific expert on gratitude, shares the positive effects of gratitude which are better overall health, happiness, and contentment, inspiring people to be more altruistic and more. Gratitude widens your perspective on yourself, your problems, and the world. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop achieving and obtaining more in life. It’s about not taking anything for granted. Savor every moment and experience. Teaching this to your child, or even to yourself, will elevate how you’ll all experience the world.
Quit the Self-Deprecating Humor
Children might not understand self-deprecating humor. But that doesn’t mean that you should be the one to introduce it to them. Self-deprecating comments and remarks might be something you don’t think twice about, but remember that you have an audience watching your every move. What impression would that leave on your child about you? About themself? They might even adopt this practice before fully understanding what it means.
Start the Day With Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are not merely words uttered to yourself. These serve as an emotion management tool to help you get mentally ready for the day. You might ask, do people get in front of their bathroom mirror in the morning every day to chant to themselves? The simple answer is yes. What’s at play here is a self-fulfilling prophecy or the process of rendering what merely started as thoughts or expectations into a reality.
Positive affirmations are similar to positive self-talk, which is often associated with a positive outlook in life. Other benefits include increased vitality, improved immune system, better overall health, less stress, and more. This is also a great way to reformat your negative thoughts into positive ones. This is a healthy and adaptive life skill worth teaching to your child.
When Positivity Turns Toxic
Even though positive thinking increases favorable outcomes in many aspects of a person’s life, it shouldn’t be taken to extremes.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman defines toxic positivity in an article as the act of keeping a positive mindset despite the emotional pain a person feels or a difficult situation they are in. This might be something we’re all guilty of doing at least once throughout the pandemic.
It’s still important to acknowledge your negative emotions and thoughts. Doing otherwise is toxic, dismissive, and maladaptive. It is simply an unhealthy practice. An older study showed suppressing negative feelings can leave you feeling stressed out even. If you feel sad, then be sad. If you feel angry and frustrated, then feel that. You are still human, after all.
Being open to express and talk about your feelings encourages your children to do the same. This fosters a safe environment to be vulnerable without judgment. This is how support systems are made. Having each other to talk to in difficult times is a source of comfort and relief.