It’s no easy feat for any of us to be optimistic day in and day out. Sometimes, annoying things, frustrating things and downright bad things – they just happen – and can rain on anyone’s sunny disposition. The same holds true for our kids. Not only do they learn by our example, they too are confronted by negativity here, there and everywhere.
So, what is optimism and how can we help our children be more positive in their lives? Optimism is, simply, directing our thoughts towards the positive and controllable aspects of life without being so delusional as to deny or ignore things that are negative our out of our control. By paying closer attention to what’s good in life, working towards positive change is that much easier. Optimism helps us awaken to what’s possible instead of what’s impossible. It should also be noted that optimism is a skill. It’s something humans can be trained to do – and that’s why it’s so important to intervene and teach our kids how to be optimistic as early on as we can.
Here are 10 simple (and practical) ways to help train you and your kids to live life with more optimism:
1) Speak in positive words and phrases. Your children can often sense what you’re thinking before you even say it aloud. So, when you hear your subconscious forming negative words and phrases, such as “I am stressed” or “I am angry”, it’s your responsibility to try and turn things around. Focus on the positive aspects of a situation and voice those instead. Often, by saying simply, “I am calm”, your mood can instantly change for the better and your child will notice the strength and positivity you exude.
2) Point out the beauty around you. Take a walk with your kids and make it a point to notice the beauty around you. You can do this in the city or in the middle of a forest. There is beauty everywhere and your kids need to be enlightened to that fact. Perhaps you do too.
3) Have a “laugh night”. Set aside a few hours on a predetermined evening with the express purpose of making each other laugh. Kids can prepare knock-knock jokes. Parents can dress up in silly costumes. Someone can tell a funny story. You can paint each other’s faces in clown make-up. There’s no easier way to feel good about life than to have a great laugh.
4) Breathe calmly. Sometimes negativity can creep up on us, unexpectedly. In these situations, it’s important to practice a bit of calm and steady breathing, preferably in a quiet place. When children start to act up, this is the time to teach them this method of calming themselves.
5) Play positive music. Children love to repeat songs they hear, over and over again. Positive music is a great way for kids to start repeating positive words and statements. Make sure you check out our music album with empowering messages for kids Positively Kids
6) Engage in friendly competition. Play a board game with your kids. Not only is this a great way to spend time together, it also teaches children perspective. Our “I Choose to Be Happy” Bingo game is a wonderful way to teaching positive thinking and coping through play.
7) Write Positivity Notes. You can write and display notes with affirmations and display them around the house. From “I am kind” and “I am loving” to “I am charitable” and “I love to smile”, these notes are beacons of positivity to everyone in the family. Even simple notes with xx’s and oo’s to symbolize kisses and huge can be hidden in places for children to discover over time. Tell them how many you’ve hidden and you can even turn it into a scavenger hunt.
8) Do unto others. Often, the easiest way to turn the light on in your heart is to help turn it on for someone else. So, bake cookies with your kids for a neighbor or work at a charity event for a day or a weekend. This can really help to unlock the mystery of what’s possible in a young mind.
9) Encourage your kids to reflect. Older kids can be given a journal in which to reflect privately. Younger kids, however, often need to be coaxed. One great idea is to write open-ended questions on note cards. They can ask questions like “What is something neat that you saw today?”, “How did you help someone today?”, “What nice thing did you see someone do today?” or “What are you thankful for?”. Put the cards into a stack and ask the child to pick one to answer every day.
10) Make others feel important. This is something we all should do more of. If someone has improved your day or your life, in even the most minute way, tell them. Saying “thank you”, be it via an anonymous note left in a mailbox or said face to face not only makes us feel more positive about the people we have in our lives, it pays the feeling forward. Model this behavior for your kids every day and encourage them to do the same and you’ll be doing your part to make the world a more positive place.
Please share any activities you like to do to keep the positive in your home