Power of Positive Thinking
There is truth to the power of positive thinking. Studies have shown that by actually thinking happy thoughts we can change our brain chemistry. These changes alter our view of our world and how we approach life. This is the psychology behind the “gratitude” movement that has quickly become part of our self-care culture. I know a woman who consistently journals a list of ten reasons to be grateful each day. Nothing major: the scent of spring, the flavor of chocolate, the smile of her children. Of course, anytime I have chocolate I’m grateful. However, when we learn to appreciate the little things in life, we embrace life to the fullest. This daily practice has changed her life immensely.
I think it is a brilliant idea.
The human experience encompasses all kinds of feelings. I do not know a single human who has not felt frustration, fear, sadness, self-doubt….fill-in-the-blank. If we did not feel these, we would not learn how to appreciate the good stuff. Kind of a Yin-Yang experience.
Help Navigate Your Child’s Emotions: Feel the Feels
Here are some tips on how to help your child (and you) navigate through the adverse emotions that are part of life.
- Help your child identify their feelings. They may say they are angry, but chances are there is a deeper, more confusing emotion welling up. They may not have the word for it yet. Ask them about their experience to help define what they are truly feeling. You are helping them learn to be emotionally intelligent. (EQ/EI)
- Talk through the disappointing experience together. Help them acknowledge and accept their feelings. In other words, it’s perfectly fine to Feel the Feels.
- After listening to their story, thank them for sharing. If you feel you must say something, keep it positive. “Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I know it wasn’t easy. Those experiences are tough. Can I tell you what I know? I know that you are a kind, loving person. Here’s how I know this….”
- When someone shares their negative feelings or experiences with you, they trust you with their feelings — they are vulnerable. Watch this Brene Brown TedTalk to learn more about vulnerability.
- Avoid demands such as “suck it up” and “be more positive.” Seriously, just don’t. That merely adds distress and shame to the experience. It also does not change their feelings.
- If appropriate, share similar personal experiences with your child. Kids often wonder, “Am I normal?” When you share how you overcame a similar situation, your child will feel a bit more self-assured.
- Follow up with your child. Carve out a little one-on-one time with your child to check in with them.
- Enlist the expertise of a mental health professional if needed.
- And yes, start a gratitude journal together. Change those brain chemicals to help chase away the negative thoughts.
Take Your Child’s Feelings Seriously
Build a foundation of trust in which your children can be vulnerable as they express their feelings. Soon they will need a trusted adult when they want to talk about sex and relationships. If you take their feelings seriously now, they will share with you later.
Being a parent isn’t easy. Being a kid is less easy, especially as they enter puberty. Suddenly all these intense and confusing feelings bombard them and they don’t always understand how to cope with them. Their troubles may seem trivial to you, but to your child the problems can feel insurmountable. Teach them coping mechanisms that will carry them into adulthood.