9 Strategies to Boost Your Child’s Positive Thinking - Social Emotional Workshop

9 Strategies to Boost Your Child’s Positive Thinking

By Laura Driscoll | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Aug 30

We can all get a little down on ourselves from time to time. Negative thinking can cause us to feel sad and angry, feel bad about ourselves and others, avoid activities, ruin relationships and more. Our brains also tend to dwell a lot more on those negative thoughts than the more helpful positive ones. Kids are no exception. 

We can boost positive thinking in children with some simple kid-friendly strategies.Try some out and see which ones your child or students likes the best. 

One word of caution -- Negative thinking is okay. The point of these strategies is not to never have another negative thought again or to dismiss every negative thought. It is to be in charge of our negative thinking so it isn't in charge of us. We are not looking for 1000 watt fake smiles. 

9 Positive Thinking Strategies

1. Ugh, But

Crummy things happen. It's unavoidable at times. Try an Ugh, But statement. Say the thing that happened that wasn't so great, and then say something about it that isn't so bad.

Positive Thinking Strategy: Ugh, But

2. Boss That Thought

Sometimes our negative thoughts can push us around and make us feel bad or act poorly. But they aren't in charge of us! Be the boss of your negative thoughts.

When your thoughts are too negative, tell them why they are wrong. Tell them another way to look at the problem. You are in charge of your thoughts. Sometimes you have to show them who is boss.

Positive Thinking Strategy: Boss the Thought

3. Throw It Away

Physically getting rid of negative thoughts can be really powerful. 

Write down your negative thought. Crumple up the paper into a tight ball and throw it away. As you crumple it up and throw it away, picture your negative thought leaving your mind.

Positive Thinking Strategy: Throw Them Away

4. Picture It Perfect

When you are imagining that something is going to go badly, take a minute to picture it going perfectly. Remind yourself that it probably won't go perfect and it probably won't go terribly either.

Positive Thinking Strategies poster

5. Silver Lining

Finding a silver lining is a classic example of looking for the good parts of a thing that isn't so wonderful. Write down some common negative events (i.e., being left out, forgetting your homework, getting in trouble) and brainstorm one tiny part that is positive. 

Ask yourself:  What's another way to look at this? What is one small positive thing I can find about this.

6. Glass Half Full, Half Empty

Similarly, you can present the concept of half full/half empty. The child can come up with half full thoughts and half empty thoughts. You can use the same concept to have children sort negative and positive thoughts as well.

7. Gratitude

Sometimes those negative thoughts about ourselves, an event or someone else can just fill up our brains. Take two minutes and write down three positive things about yourself, the event or the other person. Shifting our focus to the positive can help us see things more clearly.

8. Best Friend's Eyes

Sometimes the way we talk to ourselves is awful! Things like "No one likes you" or "You are never going to be able to do that". Can you imagine saying that to someone else? Then why do we say it to ourselves?

Think of your best friend. Now think of the negative thought you just had about yourself. 

If my best friend heard me say this to myself, what would they say? If I heard my best friend say this to themselves, what would I say to them?

9. Control

Sometimes the best thing we can do to get a handle on our negative thinking is to think about what it is we can and can't control. 

The fied trip gets cancelled because of the rain. What a bummer! Instead of sitting with lots of negative thoughts about how everything is unfair. Think about what you can control and what you can't. You can't control the weather. But you can control not letting a cancelled field trip ruin your day.

Positive Thinking Strategy: Control

Get Started

Negative thinking is part of being a person. It certainly isn' the best part. But negative thoughts, just like negative feelings like sadness and anger, are okay. We can be in charge of our thoughts! We can use simple strategies to make sure our thoughts are realistic and not making us feel worse. 

Try one of these 9 strategies to help your child or student be boost their positive thinking.

Download the free positive thinking strategies poster when you join the email list.

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About the Author

Laura is a former school psychologist passionately trying to bring social-emotional learning to every student at every tier. Click here for hands-on resources for the classroom and counseling.

  • Claudia M. says:

    Thank you Miss Laura! May I share this with my student’s parents?

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