The Benefits of Positivity in Young Children
THE BENEFITS OF POSITIVITY IN YOUNG CHILDREN
When it comes to a child’s development, a positive mindset can make many aspects of life easier. As parents, it is crucial that we understand the many challenges that all children face during their development, ranging from anxiety to confusion surrounding day to day life. By using positive support and reinforcement to encourage a positive mindset in our children, we can give them the necessary tools to combat these stresses of life.
In this article, we will be exploring the benefits of encouraging a positive mindset in your child as well as effective ways to foster this positive mindset. This is because, while many of us think that positivity is an innate quality, this often isn’t the case and is instead a quality that should be encouraged and guided by parents. Through leading by example, parents can help their children maintain a positive mindset- something that will benefit them in many ways throughout their lives.
What is Positive Thinking?
Let’s get started! Before we explore the benefits of positive thinking for children and how you can help your child develop positive thinking in their own lives, it is important that we define what positive thinking is. Put simply, positive thinking is a mindset that perceives life situations in a way that is constructive. While this doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring when negative things happen in life, a positive thinker is able to look at a situation in a way that is productive.
As your child grows older, having a positive mindset will aid them in many aspects of life. It should be noted that positive thinking is most effective when a person experiences more neutral events, such as starting their first day of school, meeting a new teacher, or even starting a new job. These are situations where our perspective tends to be the most impactful and, when your child is able to utilize a positive mindset, they will be able to approach such life events in a more productive way.
But can children really grasp the concept of positive thinking? Put simply, yes. Due to cognitive changes during middle childhood, positive thinking is something we all have the ability to recognize. That being said, after the age of five, the guidelines that children use to understand how emotions work tend to become more complex. According to Dr. Christi Bamford, a developmental psychologist and assistant professor at Jacksonville University, children as young as five can understand the principles of positive thinking. This fact was established in Dr. Bamford’s study involving 90 children ranging from five to 10 years old.
In Dr. Bamford’s study, she asked each child to listen to a series of six illustrated scenarios featuring two characters. In these scenarios, the characters each experienced the same good event (in which they felt good) and the same bad event (in which they felt bad), followed by a more ambiguous event (in which they felt okay). In each of these scenarios, one character would think a positive thought while the other would think a negative thought. After explaining the reaction of each character to the children, researchers would ask the children what they thought about the reactions and record their responses. The results of the study conveyed that children as young as five can understand the basic principles of positive thinking in that a positive thought results in making you feel better while a negative thought often makes you feel worse.
What are the Benefits of Positive Thinking?
Positive Thinkers Are More Resilient An Increased Lifespan Better Psychological and Physical Well-Being Now that we have an understanding of the definition of positive thinking and have noted that children can understand the basic principles of positive thinking, what are the benefits of encouraging a positive mindset in our children? As it turns out, there are many benefits associated with positive thinking and these benefits are backed by science. Let’s explore how your child can benefit from positive thinking in their lives.
When parents nurture positive thinking in their children, it can act as a powerful coping tool that can foster a greater sense of resilience in them. When a child is better equipped to handle life’s inevitable disappointments, they can manage their feelings more effectively. Studies even show that children who are trained to think positively are less likely to develop depression later in life. In this way, a child who regularly practices a positive mindset is more resilient.
According to a study published in 2019, those that practice a positive mindset have a longer lifespan on average. In the study, men and women with the highest levels of optimism had an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan on average than those who practiced positive thinking less frequently. The study showed that those with the highest score in terms of optimism also had the greatest odds of living to the age of 85 or beyond. This is reportedly the first study to examine how optimism and positive thinking impact longevity.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, positive thinking has been found to have a link with a wide range of health benefits, including better psychological and physical well-being overall. Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek M.P.H. and her team found that a positive outlook on life as opposed to a negative outlook leads to higher energy levels, reduced levels of anxiety, and greater satisfaction with health and overall life.
How Can You Help Your Child Develop Positive Thinking?
With a few of the benefits of practicing positive thinking in mind, it is likely that you’re wondering what you can do to nurture a positive mindset in your child. Luckily, we have a few recommendations for ways you can help your child view life (and themselves) in a more positive way. By practicing the following actions, you can guide your child to practicing a positive mindset that will benefit them for the rest of their lives, making them happier and healthier individuals.
Lead by Example
As a general rule of thumb, the more positive the parent is, the more positive their child is likely to be. For this reason, you play a powerful role in your child’s mindset. If you want to guide your child effectively, lead by example by practicing a positive mindset in your day to day life. Express positivity openly and in regular conversation with your child. When your child feels noticeably anxious about a life event, help them reframe their thoughts. By practicing this with them regularly, you can help them harness the power of positive thinking and they will become more effective using it in their day to day lives as they grow older!
Acknowledge When Bad Things Happen
It is important to note that practicing positive thinking does not mean that you ignore when negative life events occur. When your child experiences a negative life event, it is crucial that you teach them to acknowledge their feelings about it rather than shoving them down. Instead, focus simply on reframing the situation. By doing so, you can teach your child to be resilient in the face of life’s disappointments
Practice Positive Affirmations With Your Child
In life, it is easy to get carried away with negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. One of the best ways of fighting against these types of thoughts is by practicing positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are positive statements that can help you not only challenge but completely overcome these types of debilitating thought processes. In fact, positive affirmations have been used to successfully treat people who suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health conditions. Use positive affirmations with your child and make them a part of your daily routine. You can use positive affirmations in any area of your life where you’d like to see positive change take place. You’ll notice yourself (and your child) thinking more positively in no time!
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