The world often seems infected with a pandemic of negativity, which has only been exacerbated by the e-communications age. Today, it takes barely an hour of internet surfing to tell several dozen people exactly what one thinks of them, then vent about one’s miserable life on ten different platforms. If you have such habits, stop and consider the example you’re setting for your children—and whether you really want them to grow up seeing little good in the world.
Whether or not negativity is a particular problem in your household, your influence counts for a lot in developing your children’s overall attitudes toward life.
Make Counting Blessings a Family Ritual
When a part of each day is set aside for focusing on the positive, temptations to complain lose much of their power. At mealtime, bedtime, or family time, make a habit of asking everyone to share what they liked about the day. Better yet, give everyone a “blessings journal” and challenge them to list a hundred (or a thousand) items in thirty days. (Reserve half an hour each evening for sharing the day’s entries.) Or make a “blessings mural” as a family art project.
Look for the Silver Lining
Rather than grumbling about inconveniences, remember the greater benefits behind those inconveniences. Which is worse: the bother of long grocery-store lines or—as is the case for many people—trying to care for children in a “food desert” where proper grocery stores and healthy food are inaccessible? Even on rough days, keep family small talk focused on the positive.
Make Your Home a Criticism-Free Zone
Being positive about the world starts with being positive about oneself—and about one’s fellow human beings. Make it a house rule that no one (including the adults):
- Says, “Why can’t you do this or that?”
- Complains about others (or groups of others) behind their backs
- Grumbles about the overall state of the world, unless they can also suggest something proactive to do—promptly and personally—about finding solutions
Watch your reaction when a child tattles on a sibling, vents about a problem, or uses self-deprecating language (“I never do anything right”). Ways you’ll be tempted to respond but shouldn’t:
- “Fix it” yourself
- Try to talk your child out of feeling that way
- Dismiss it curtly (“I’m busy, settle it yourself!”)
All the above fuel negative attitudes in the child. (“I’m weak; I always need to be rescued.” “No one understands or cares.”) The better response—open-ended questions that guide children to find their own solutions—may seem like a lot of work initially; but it pays off (and you’ll spend less time on it) as your children learn to believe in themselves and see every problem as solvable.
Note to Teachers
Don’t fall for stereotypes that say all children hate school and no one appreciates a teacher: if that’s all you expect, that’s all you’ll ever get. Practice expecting the best and treating school as a blessing. Not only will that make you a happier and better teacher, your students will pick up the attitude and become more positive themselves.
EMBRACING POSITIVE EDUCATION
There’s a lot more to effective education—and preparing for effective adulthood—than getting straight A’s. At Shady Oak Primary, we don’t focus on grades but on real learning, the kind that only comes through cooperation, healthy problem solving, and being a contributing individual in an effective community. If you’re considering private schools for your child, contact us today to learn more.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!