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Tips for raising a positive child

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Follow our expert advice and practical tips to nip negativity in the bud and allow positivity to flourish.

Ensuring that your child grows up feeling confident and happy, displaying positive behaviour and an optimistic outlook on life is all part of your role as a parent. But what if your child starts to display negative attitudes? It’s easy, then, to doubt your parenting skills. Don’t worry, try these simple tips to gradually instil a positive attitude in your child.

A healthy mind begins at home

Remember, what children see and hear indirectly from you as you lead your life and interact with others influences them much more than what you try to ‘teach’ them. So make sure you lead by example.

Negative thinking leads to more negative thinking

Teach your child that thoughts and feelings are linked: think negatively and you will feel negative. Changing takes lots of practice but you can begin by talking about how your own thoughts about adversity create negative feelings in you.

Monitor your ‘inner voice’

Show your child how to acknowledge that the things you say to yourself are not necessarily always accurate. For instance, after receiving the poor mark your child may be telling themself they are a failure and will never be able to succeed.

Control negative thinking

Help your child learn to identify the thoughts that flit across their mind at the times they feel worst. These thoughts, although barely noticeable, greatly affect mood and behaviour. For instance, if your child received a poor mark, ask, “When you got your mark, what did you say to yourself?”

Find things that are true and nice to say about yourself

Teach your child how to generate more accurate explanations (to themselves) when bad things happen. This involves looking for evidence to the contrary (good marks in the past, success in other areas).

Stop exaggerating – things are not that bad

Teach your child to ‘de-catastrophise’ the situation. That is, help them to see that the bad event may not be as bad or will not have the adverse consequences imagined. Few things in life are as devastating as we fear.

Keep focused

If there’s a problem, look at what your child enjoys or is doing well at and focus on that for a few days. You will all benefit from taking the attention away from the problem. This will help your child to relax and minimise the gravity of the perceived problem.

Break down barriers

If your child thinks that they are not good at something, they may worry about their performance and possible failure. That will often cause them to refuse to put themself in a situation where they might not do well. Helping them change the way in which they interpret the world can turn a situation around very quickly. So listen to your child's concerns, but be very reassuring and keep reminding them about the things that they do well.

Quick tips to help kids see the bright side

  • Reinforce the positives. Give praise, recognition or a special privilege for a job well done.
  • Give your children responsibility for household chores. Responsibility makes them feel valued and part of the team.
  • Don't re-do their jobs. If you expect perfection, it is too easy for them to quit trying.
  • Laugh at their jokes and listen attentively when they are talking to you. Being fully present when you are with your child is essential.
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