The Power of Positive Thinking
Some days can be difficult for kids. The challenge to keep up with friends, schoolwork and juggle a hectic schedule can be overwhelming and negative thoughts can occur due to peer pressure and poor grades. It’s important for a child to recognize that negative emotions are linked to anxiety, aggression, depression, and stress. Some kids are positive thinkers and others marinate in negatives and too often society and science tend to focus on negative emotions and sideline the power of positive emotions.
Negative thoughts affect a child’s health, outlook on life, and narrow their mind because they focus on fear, despair and anger. Negative emotions prevent the brain from viewing positive options and choices. When kids feel increased negativity, they begin to spiral downward, their behavior becomes rigid, and they start to feel burdened, depressed and want to “fight or flee.”
Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the book, Positivity, has spent over 20 years studying positive emotions. Her research reveals that negative emotions are necessary for us to flourish, and by nature, positive emotions are subtle and fleeting. The secret is to balance negative feelings with positive ones, rather than trying to eliminate all negativity. Fredrickson’s research also shows that positive emotions are essential to optimal functioning. When cultivated, positive emotions will make children happier, boost their health, build skills and increase productivity.
Positive thinking includes a wide range of feelings and it’s important to help a child distinguish between pleasure and positive emotions. Pleasure is associated with what the body needs right now and positive emotions tell them what they need emotionally and mentally. Positive emotions are triggered by personal perceptions of current circumstances and pleasure results in giving body what it needs and craves. All emotions are typically short-lived and positive emotions tend to be more fleeting than negative emotions.
Negative Thoughts and the Brain
Negative emotions like anger, stress, and fear cause the brain to close off from the outside world. When kids are unable to view positive options and choices their survival instinct takes over and they feel the urge to attack, blame others, deflect or flee. These emotions alter their mindset and narrow their perspective. It becomes difficult for them to recognize optimal solutions to unpleasant or challenging situations.
Positive Thoughts and The Brain
Positive emotions like joy, contentment and love have a different effect on the brain. They prompt kids to broaden their focus and thinking, undo negative emotions and resentment, fuel resiliency, and build personal resources.
It is critical for a child to cultivate positive emotions in their life in order to feel happiness, health and well- being. Positive emotions will transform them for the better and set them on a path to flourish. Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory provides research to support that positive emotions move people forward helping them to open their minds, explore the creation of new skills, increase productivity, and ultimately be happier.
Positive Emotions Increase Positive Thinking
Teach your child to rid themselves of negative emotions by increasing their positive thoughts about the world around them. Dr. Fredrickson lists the following emotions as the top 10 to help individuals flourish – joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
Help your child invest in their future by incorporating these top 10 emotions into each day. Encourage them to write these words on sticky notes and post them on a bathroom mirror, the dashboard of the family car or inside their school locker. Schedule time to help your child learn a new skill, take up a hobby, meditate, exercise with a friend, eat healthy, enjoy an old movie, engage in laughter, watch the sunrise, and begin to embrace the benefits of positive emotions.
About the author
Academic Language Therapist, Multi-book Author, National Speaker
Vikki empowers people! She is an Academic Language Therapist, multi-book author and a national speaker. Vikki grew up in Salt Lake City, met her husband at the University of Utah, and has owned several companies across the United States. In 2010, Vikki and her husband moved back to Utah from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and she founded Vikki Carrel & Company, a speaking and training organization. Read more about the Author