We can all get 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 more on those negative thoughts than on 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 like 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.
2. Boss That Thought
Sometimes, 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 the boss is.
3. Throw It Away
Physically, getting rid of negative thoughts can be powerful.
Write down your negative thoughts. Crumple up the paper into a tight ball and throw it away. As you crumple it up and throw it away, picture your negative thoughts leaving your mind.
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 won't go perfectly, and it won't go terribly, either.
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 idea to have children sort negative and positive thoughts.
Sometimes, those negative thoughts about ourselves, an event, or someone else can fill 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 will never 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 thoughts you just had about yourself.
If my best friend heard me say this to myself, what would they say? If I listened to my best friends say this to themselves, what would I say to them?
Sometimes, the best thing we can do to get a handle on our negative thinking is to think about what we can and can't control.
The field trip gets canceled 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 canceled field trip ruin your day.
Negative thinking is part of being a person. It certainly isn't 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 ensure our thoughts are realistic and not make us feel worse.
Try one of these nine strategies to help your child or student boost their positive thinking.
Download the free positive thinking strategies poster in my store.
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