By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)
“Change your thoughts, and you change your world!” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
Unfortunately, we live in a world were many negative images are all around us. From stories in the news, from words that are said, to feelings of guilt and shame. When we focus on the negative that is what will enter our mind and lives. A shift in our thought patterns from negative to positive can have a great impact on how we interact with and view the world. I think of a quote that pops into my head during times of tragedy, Mr. Roger said this best, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” In order for our children and ourselves to create a positive and happy life we need to change our outlook and mind-set. To take all those negative thoughts, which are most often not intentional, and change them to a constructive point of view. By encouraging optimism and positive thoughts with our children, we help them to develop resilience, motivation, incentive, and inspiration to keep trying even when things are, “hard” or difficult.
We can help kids to look on the bright side and encourage optimism. I have seen firsthand how positive reinforcement affects children. In the classroom, we use positive words when giving directions or expectations. Instead of saying, “Don’t run,” we say, “Walk” instead of saying, and “Don’t touch” we say, “Look with your eyes.” When we say, “Don’t run” the child only hears, “RUN!” By changing our phrases to positive words and telling them our expectations, the image of the positive will come into their minds. I once had a professor demonstrate the power of images. He said, “Don’t think of pink elephants!” Of course, what image popped into our minds at that moment, pink elephants! This has helped me as a teacher and mother to change how I verbalize and speak with children. By “catching” children being good, encouraging them when they become frustrated, and teaching them skills so that they can become independent are just a few positive ways we help them to gain confidence and support their growth in a positive manner.
Positive thinking is a mental attitude that perceives situations in a constructive manner. Positive thinking takes practice. It’s developing a habit of seeing gratitude in what you have and by not ignoring the negative, but rather, looking at the situation productively. By thinking positive you are also taking better care of your health. The Mayo Clinic states that there are many positive benefits of positive thinking:
• Increased life span
• Lower rates of depression
• Lower levels of distress
• Greater resistance to the common cold
• Better psychological and physical well-being
• Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
• Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
As you can see there can be many health improvements to a positive outlook and attitude. What are some ways we can demonstrate the positive with our children? In the article, Positive Thinking for Children, By Mike McLaughlin gives suggestions on how we can shape children’s outlook on life by:
• Positive Words: Encourage the use of positive words
• Listening: Taking time to listen to your child
• Gratitude: Expression of being grateful
• Modeling: Being a role model for your child – let them see your reaction to a situation in a positive manner
• Activities: Ways to develop positive thinking in your child
• Benefits: The impact on their future For more information go to:
Positive thinking is a valuable life skill that will enrich relationships, emotional and physical health, and our lives. How do you practice positive thinking or positive reinforcement?
Here are some wonderful articles I found on positive thinking and positive reinforcement:
What is Positive Thinking?
Positive Thinking – CNN News
Use Positive Reinforcement – Family Education
7 Steps for Practicing Positive Discipline – PBS Parents
Positive Attitude – It’s power and benefits