Raising Positive Kids

Raising Positive Kids 001

In the great debate of nature vs. nurture, here’s one question to ponder: Are your actions encouraging your child to grow into a positive person?

On a daily basis, it’s no secret things don’t always go your way, and during those tough times, you’re given teachable moments to share with your child. Do you teach him or her to react positively or negatively when things go wrong?

Perhaps you find yourself driving with your child in the back seat, and someone in another car cuts you off. If your gut reaction veers in the direction of giving a hand gesture or honking the horn, while shouting a few choice words, you might want to reconsider. Your little one is watching and learning from your actions. Keeping your cool and remaining positive when those little eyes are on you can help give your child a positive outlook on the world and it will help him or her to become a positive adult some day.

Confession time: Despite the fact that I work to develop positive leaders, schools and teams, positivity does not come naturally to me. The research says it isn’t my fault. Some people just are born with a more positive disposition than others. But, the latest research in neuroscience and positive psychology demonstrates people can mold their brains and themselves to be more positive, which is great news.

For the past eight years, I’ve worked really hard at becoming more positive. I’ve seen the fruits of these efforts in my life and in the people I’ve taught —most important, my own children. I’ve seen how simple strategies and daily rituals can make a tremendous impact on kids’ mindset, belief system and outlook on life.
Positive kids become positive adults, and as a parent, you can play a significant role in shaping your children’s outlook. Here are several tips to help you raise positive kids.

1. Implement the “No Complaining Rule.” You child isn’t to complain unless she identifies one or two possible solutions. This empowers her to become the driver of her own bus, instead of being a passenger gripping onto the edge of her seat. She’ll also learn to use complaints as a catalyst for positive change and positive action.

2. Recall a success of the day. Each night at bedtime, at dinner, or while taking an after-dinner walk, ask your child to share with you his success of the day. It could be a great conversation on the bus, an accomplishment at school, something he is proud of, or a situation where he helped someone. The important thing is to help him focus on accomplishments instead of failures. When you help your children expect success, look for success and celebrate success, he can find more success and gain more confidence.

3. Have a nightly ritual. Sharing time with your child in prayer each night provides her with a foundation of peace, security and confidence. This gives your child the strength to take on the daily challenges of being a child.

4. Teach the “Positive Shark Formula,” E + P = 0. This is from my latest book, which is a story about a nice shark who teaches a goldfish how to overcome his fear of change and find food. After all, goldfish wait to be fed, while sharks go find food.

The formula reveals that you can’t control the events in our life (E), but you can control your positive response (P) to these events. And, your response determines the outcome (O). This formula will help your child develop a strong locus of control, which is a perspective that through his beliefs and actions, he has an influence on his life. He’ll come to believe he is not a victim of circumstance, but rather a hero in his own inspirational tale.

5. Feel blessed instead of stressed. Research says people can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. Help your child identify three things she is thankful for each day. You can create a gratitude journal together or you can encourage her to write these blessings in her diary.

Try to implement these strategies gradually, one at a time. Developing a positive kid does not rely solely on a one-time event, but on a lifetime mission. Think of your child’s mind like a garden: Each day you should help your child weed out negativity and plant positive thoughts in its place. One day of weeding and planting won’t do much, but if you practice these strategies each day throughout your child’s lifetime, the garden will grow to be more healthy and vibrant.