This is a continuation of last week’s #momlife post. Tikeetha asked for tips on shaping your child’s perception when they tend to focus more on the negative than the positive. I’m going to share what I’m currently doing with my own daughter to help her cultivate a positive outlook. There are many factors that go into negative thinking but one of the first things that come to mind when it comes to children is that they’re passengers on their parent’s train.
What does that have to do with a negative attitude? I’m willing to bet that if you had little to no control over your life and felt that external factors influenced everything that happened, you’d probably have a hard time noticing the positive things as well. By giving them a sense of control they’ll be able to see how they’re able to impact their own life. One area they can see immediate results is in discipline. It’s much more effective for them to realize that they didn’t get the results they expected because of cause and effect rather than because you’re exerting your power.
Instead of telling them they can’t go to the park because they didn’t clean their room, let them know that if they don’t have their room clean by dinnertime, they won’t be able to go to the park. The difference is, this way they know what’s expected of them and what the consequences are up front. If they don’t go to the park, they can’t play the “that’s not fair” card because they knew what the result of not cleaning their room would be. Kindly ask them what they had to do to be able to go to the park. Who was in charge of determining if they played at the park later? This really helps to eliminate one of the ingredients of negative thinking which is the feeling of being helpless. Put the power of choice in their hands in a way they can see how their actions directly contribute to the outcome. With time, they’ll be able to make better choices and see how they bring positive and negative consequences into their life.
No one likes to feel helpless or powerless no matter how old they are. By giving them a sense of control of their life, you’re empowering them. You’re giving them the opportunity to build confidence not only in their decision-making process but in the role they play in their own life. I encourage you to consider your parenting dynamic a teacher/student role versus the traditional parent/child role. This dynamic focuses on teaching and empowering instead of compliance and control. You’re teaching your kids how to do things instead of what to do. You’re building them up and encouraging them to be free thinking little people that will have lots of practice in critical thinking, decision-making, and have a first-hand understanding of the process.
My oldest daughter is eight and has always been a pretty positive person, over the past year or so I’ve noticed her becoming more caught up on negatives though. Part of that is due to her feeling like everything happens to her. If she’s on my train with no choice as to where it stops or what the destination is, I can understand her feeling frustrated and having a negative perspective. I remember what it was like to be a kid and have no sense of control over my life. I had great ideas but they weren’t heard or utilized because I was a child. I encourage you to pay attention to what area your child wants to have more of a sense of control of in their life. Let them practice good decision-making skills. Not only will this help them to become good critical thinkers, learn the importance of how to make decisions, and understand cause and effect but it will help them feel like they have a say so in their own life. The kinds of decisions you put them in control of will depend on their level of understanding, their maturity, safety, and risk involved.
I encourage you to pay attention to situations that your child tends to be negative in or focus on negative things more. It could be at school, when they are around certain people, at home, or in general. Really hone into those areas and pay attention to triggers of negative self-talk, behavior, and attitude and see if you can identify the root cause. Ask them questions that will help them figure out what the root cause is and then let them come up with solutions. Be open to listening to what they have to say and ask questions not only show that you’re listening but that help them identify ways to handle it differently or reframe things in a more positive way. You might find that by allowing them to come up with a solution and giving them a sense of control in one area that their outlook improves in general as it could have a domino effect. They’ll also be able to take that experience and apply it to another situation, now you’ve given them a tool to utilize in the future.
What are your thoughts on this post? Did you find any of it useful? Do you think your child could benefit by having a sense of control of their life? Do you think that showing them the ways they are in control of their life will help? Are you willing to try any of these suggestions? What part stood out to you most? I’d love to hear, feel free to share in the comments! If you have any suggestions for #momlife posts, feel free to leave them in the comments! Thanks again Tikeetha for this suggestion!
To see other #momlife posts you might have missed, click on the photo.
You might enjoy this post where I helped my daughter come up with an anti-bully plan.