Studies have shown that a positive attitude and resiliency are the most linked traits to being a happy person. While modeling is the main way our children learn from us (so try your best to reflect positivity and resiliency), here are some other helpful ways to foster a positive attitude and resiliency in our children.
These are scaffolding in that you add strategies...don’t take any strategies away from earlier stages of development
Think of yourself as your child’s mirror. Do this always, but especially during this critical time of development. When your child cries, refuses certain foods, looks uncertain about new situations or people do your best to reflect back a calm, positive demeanor. It’s human instinct to copy your baby’s reaction (i.e. make a yucky face too when they dislike a food, make a sad face when they are sad). Showing them it’s okay through your facial expressions is so important and encourages them to feel safe while continuing to explore their environment, new foods, and people.
When your child falls, try your best to wait to react. When a baby falls they immediately look to their caregiver to know how to react. If it’s a scary, reactive response from you, it will most likely elicit fear even if that is not necessary (i.e. they didn’t get hurt). Wait and if they seem okay, help encourage them that they are okay and to continue playing. If they seem hurt or scared, then comfort them until they are calm before encouraging them to continue exploring their environment.
Make positive reflection a part of the bedtime routine. Each night after or before reading books, ask your child what their favorite part of the day was. Share your favorite part of the day.
Implement a “no biggie” catch phrase in your family. When mistakes happy, say your catch phrase, stay calm and positive, and offer problem solving opportunities where your child can help come up with solutions.
For bedtime, in addition to daily positive reflections, add in an acknowledgement of their daily efforts. Maybe it’s commenting on how they tried to take their own clothes off, how they helped you set the table, how they kept trying to build that tower that kept falling and never gave up. Shift your praise to efforts made and not just the product.
Give thanks as part of the family dinner routine or a weekend routine. Encourage your child to participate in acknowledging what they are thankful for as part of a dinner routine.
Introduce a grateful drawing journal where children add a weekly or daily drawing/writing of something that they are grateful for from their day or week.
Introduce self-regulation/coping strategies. Expose them to a variety and encourage them to explore and request what it is that works for them…art, aromatherapy, animal time, walks, outside time, yoga, deep breathes, a calm down area, music, squeeze balls, sensory activities.
Introduce the concept of “spotting the positive” or a “silver lining.” Talk about how sometimes good can come from seemingly negative situations. Ask your child to play along with you in “spot the positive,” where you talk about a situation that seems negative, but try to find the hidden positive outcomes. An example would be if getting stuck in a traffic jam, talk about one positive outcome could be getting more time to listen to your favorite music/podcast in the car. Take the time to model this thought process often.
Reward for the efforts made and not just the outcome.
Encourage positive self-talk. Model this and help them rephrase negative self-reflections. For example if your child says "I suck at that," you can say "I'm gonna practice and work on getting better at that."
Introduce a grateful journal where your child lists 3 positive things/ways they feel grateful on a daily basis.
Family or friend collage nights with gratefulness collages.
Set up volunteering experiences. Give your child options of volunteering experiences and let them help pick how they would like to give back. Volunteer too and make it a family event.
Plan a trip where your child is introduced to other cultures. This could be a quick drive or traveling around the world. Help your child see how other cultures live and how big the world really is.
Encourage self-care and self-love as part of their daily routines (what routines, activities, outlets help alleviate stress and promote positivity). Ensure that they make time for themselves and doing what they love.