The current environment we live in presents us with lots of negative and challenging situations. Knowing that life can be overwhelming, putting a positive slant on our daily activities or tasks can make life more enjoyable and manageable. If we instil a positive attitude in our children they will grow up with the skills to approach life with a positive manner, which will become a natural part of who they are.
First things first, it is important for parents and primary care givers to model a positive attitude and positive behavior. As we all know children love to imitate us! They listen and watch us, if we model positive attitudes, we set the scene for great behavior in our children. If we exhibit negative behavior, you will find your child exhibiting the same negative attitudes.
Five ways of increasing positive attitude in children:
• Love and Affection
A great way of reinforcing a positive attitude in a child is to show them unconditional love and affection.Connecting and building a rapport with a child is a great way to develop or increase a positive attitude. One of the basic fundamental human needs is to feel love and safety with the parents or primary care giver. Children love to hear that their parents love them unconditionally; it makes them feel safe and secure with a sense of belonging.
When these foundations are firmly rooted, then we can begin to build the rest of the infrastructure and you will soon find that you have a very optimistic positive child. Give your children lots of affection in the form of kind words, hugs, and kisses. Create a positive environment for children in your home by watching funny and exciting programmes, telling them jokes and stories to excite them.
If my children are anything to go by, they love being praised for something good they have done. Praising the action or behavior will give the child a positive motivational boost, a sense of belonging and contribution. Making them feel that they are part of something great. I hasten to add, it’s important to avoid general praise, otherwise a child will not take you serious and it will also be of no significance to them. Hence, it’s pertinent to make praise specific. For example, “thank you Kulthum for helping your brother with his science homework”.
• Vision and goals
It’s important to encourage children to have goals in life. This will give them direction and clarity on the outcomes/results they want to achieve in life. It also defines structure giving them clear strategies as to what they are aiming/striving for and to show them how to define a mission statement. I found it useful to help them visualize themselves as already achieving their goals and vision in life. This can be achieved by using various NLP techniques. I found the NLP4Kids “Goal setting” exercise ideal and suitable for children of all ages. It helps them set and shape their goals in a fun meaningful way.
The beliefs exercise in NLP4Kids is a linguistic/written exercise, which has been inspired by the work of Robert Diltz from his book, Sleight of Mouth. Helping a child understand their belief system, will further equip them with the ability to make well-informed outcomes in life or any project they are working on.
• Inner Chatter
By teaching your children to control their inner voice – the dialogue that goes on in their head. These are thoughts that constantly repeat themselves in their minds, until we believe it to be true, even we if we know that they are not true. I found the NLP communication model to be an excellent tool for dealing with our inner thoughts and dialogues, most especially the filters. Children will usually use phrases such as “I’m so bad at cycling”, “nobody loves me “ I’m never going to be good at Math.” Helping them replace these negative statements with positive ones, such as “I might be having a hard time understanding Math, I will keep working at it and ask for help from my teachers and parents. Reinforcing positive statements will strengthen the positive muscle within our children.
• Talent and Strength
Helping children develop their natural talents and strengths is a great way to increase their positive out look on life. A child could be artistic, a great athlete or has a gift for being a young business entrepreneur. As we begin to unravel the intrinsic amazing talent and strengths our children have, we should support them in the development of their natural gifts and strengths. This might include taking classes in areas of interest or celebrating efforts. It’s important to teach our children that it’s hard work and effort that counts more than the final outcome or result. Let them know that its permissible to fail or make mistakes we are learn as we grow. Hence, as parents we should never take away our child’s right of getting things wrong or making mistakes – we should move away from being helicopter parents and let them fin themselves.
Let them know that it’s the effort and hard work they put in that counts and not the achievement. If we can encourage them to think in this manner, we are giving them a motivational boost and at the same time allowing them to reflect on what happened and how they can take the learning from one event and apply to the next one that pops in their journey of life.
In summary, you can help your child develop or refine their positive attitudes, by controlling their negative thinking – through being encouraging and supportive. Praise their achievements and help them feel like a winner. In the process you may review some of your own habits, values, beliefs and techniques. See what you can do differently as a parent or primary care giver to help them develop a positive mental attitude.
Make positive thinking a habit in your child’s life! Remember as a parent you have to show a positive upbeat attitude towards daily activities, which they will no doubt emulate, making them feel a well-rounded confident child with a positive outlook on life, which they can carry into the adult world!
By Khafayah Abdulsalam