Although it might seem frivolous, developing a positive attitude at an early age can have life-long, beneficial results. Beyond the psychological value, a positive outlook is associated with higher success outcomes, improved health, and a meaningful impact on character development that will stay with your child for years to come. Of course, a positive outlook is more than just seeing the glass half full, and because the world can oftentimes be a negative place, a positive outlook should be seen as a set of tools to use against that negativity. We can’t shield our children from everything, so giving them the necessary skill set to stay positive in the face of adversity should be an essential goal of every parent.
The first step in developing a positive outlook is through good communication. Children hear the word “no” so often that some stop asking questions or investigating their surroundings altogether. “No” can be a stand-in for any number of negative phrases, like “be quiet,” “stop asking questions,” “sit down,” “don’t touch that,” “I’m busy,” etc. Hearing only phrases like these can form patterns for how kids approach school, interpersonal relationships, and even how they set goals for themselves as young adults and adults. Negativity impacts a child’s desire to learn and expand beyond themselves. I’m not suggesting you say yes to every whim your child has, but try to think about what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, and for what reason.
Hand in hand with communication is the way things are said. For young children, slowing down speech can be soothing and will build connections, even if what you have to say is not what your child wants to hear. Rather than getting tense or yelling, try taking the time to explain the situation elaborately. Kids who are constantly around yelling or combative parents build up the hormone cortisol which is released by the adrenal glands when the body feels stressed. Not only is this harmful to overall physiological health, but psychologically, this can take years to undo. Since kids model themselves after their parents, negative attitudes and behaviors are copied and even passed down. Being a parent can be frustrating at times, and there are also other stressors that parents are forced to deal with, but coping with that stress and frustration positively will teach your children to do the same.
Beyond a parent’s behavior and attitude towards their children, a positive outlook can also be fostered through active methods. Instilling gratitude and encouraging your child’s efforts through affirmation goes a long way. Like adults, children have a negative voice inside their heads, but encouraging them when they do well will not only combat that negative voice but teach them how to see the value in themselves. Obviously, this promotes confidence, and while some children are naturally more confident, a holistic approach to confidence-building works as well. To take it one step further, set attainable goals with your child as this will make larger goals they set for themselves seem more possible. Just as with adults, achieving goals will add a sense of fulfillment.
You can look at the life of someone like Anthony Orlich and see all of the different journeys that he has been on for personal development throughout his life. We’re not saying that you force your children to get involved with everything around them, but perhaps try getting them involved in the local community in a positive, and productive way. They need to build their confidence, and their social skills, and getting involved when they are younger will instill a positive attitude for when they are older.
When parents successfully teach their children how to have a positive outlook, it improves their ability to cope and adapt to stressful life changes. The impact of adverse experiences on children may be lessened, and potentially insignificant given the right set of tools.