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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Positively Playful! 10 Ways to Promote Positive Thinking in Children

Photo by Steven Depolo (Flickr)

Soccer season starts soon for my girls, and they each will move up a level, which means they need to master more challenging skills. My older daughter feels excited about the opportunity, but my younger daughter is convinced that she'll have a terrible season. To encourage her to embrace a positive mindset about this and all of life's challenges, I'm trying ten positively playful strategies that can help her and your kids or students develop a more positive attitude.

Try New Activities

Although my daughter resists learning new soccer skills, her confidence, outlook, and attitude will improve as she tries new activities and succeeds. If your child can't get over their negative outlook and embrace new opportunities, learn a new game, take a cooking class, or tackle a new hiking trail together.

Reframe Negative Thoughts

One of my daughter's biggest complaints about the new season is her fear of failure, so I started playfully reminding her to say "I will do my best" instead of "I will fail." Reframing her negative thoughts will boost her confidence, give her a more positive outlook on the challenge, and prepare her for success.

Validate Emotions

As adults, we want our kids to be happy all of the time. However, it's normal for kids to feel afraid, angry, or negative. Instead of pushing our kids to feel happy, I want to validate my girls' thoughts, feelings, and emotions. When kids understand that emotions are not bad, they can begin to accept and process all of their emotions in a positive manner.

Set and Achieve Goals

My daughter will struggle to master her new soccer challenges, but we're using the WOOP strategy, with a wish, outcome, obstacle, and plan, to help her reach her goal. This effective strategy will help her succeed and give her confidence to keep trying and remain positive in the future.

Practice Gratitude

Despite the dread my daughter feels about soccer now, she will be grateful when she can run faster and play better. That's why we focus on the good things that happen each day. At dinner, we share positive moments, like a beautiful sunset, good test outcome, or surprise visit from Grandma. This exercise reminds both of my girls that despite challenges, they have much to be thankful for each day.

Help Others

Volunteering and helping others ultimately improves our self-esteem, well-being, and positivity. Choose a service project that's fun for the entire family, like babysitting for a single parent or cleaning up the park. By helping others, our kids begin to think more positively about themselves and life.

Repeat Positive Affirmations

The words our kids say to themselves can change their negative self-talk and promote positive thinking. I created a song for my daughter that repeats statements like, "I do my best, I achieve my goals, I am a strong kicker." Do the same for your kids. In time, they will internalize these affirmations and begin to think more positively.

Focus on Solutions

Every challenge, no matter how difficult, has a solution. I remind my daughter to look for ways she can overcome her fears and view the soccer season in a positive way. So far, she has decided to try her best and start training now, and I'm proud of her for moving past the problem and seeking a positive outcome.

Think Loving and Kind Thoughts

Thinking kindly about others can give our kids a more positive outlook on life. Here's an example mantra we say to our family members, friends, and classmates: "May you feel happy, healthy, safe, and at ease." I've already seen my daughter begin to think more positively about her challenges as she repeats this mantra.

Model Positivity

As parents and teachers, we play a powerful role in our children's lives and can accept and process our emotions properly, reframe our thoughts, remain grateful, and see the good in ourselves and others. We can also share experiences, joy, and laughter with our kids, which helps them feel secure and more positive about themselves and their lives.

Since we started practicing these positively playful tips, my daughter has slowly begun to see her new soccer season and other areas of life in a positive way. What other strategies do you use to promote positive thinking in your children or students?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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