Happy New Year! Happy Mind, Happy Life?

Even though many of us may not be a fan of cold weather, you have to admit that we still LOVE January! It’s a month of fresh starts and a time to refocus. It’s definitely fun to celebrate on NYE and make a list of resolutions, but you don’t need to wait for January 1st to roll around to make a life change.  Each day we have the opportunity to start fresh every morning and implement a new change or positive activity into our lives!

Your mindset has a major impact on everything you do. For example, if you have a negative attitude or feeling “down” it is highly likely that you will “transmit” that way of thinking to your work, relationship with other people, and life in general. On the other hand, positive thinking makes you more open to new challenges, boosts your energy, and it is needless to mention you feel better about yourself and people in your life.

As a parent, it’s never easy to hear your child express negative thoughts or to see her wallow in feelings like self-doubt, sadness, or anger.  Unfortunately, science says it’s natural for people to dwell more on negative thoughts than on positive ones, and this can be even more true for children. This negativity is usually driven by fear, doubt, or shame, which produces stress chemicals in the brain. Ultimately, a negative attitude can shape how a child sees herself and the world around her.

There are no “bad” emotions. All thoughts and feelings are valid. Both positive and negative thoughts and emotions play a valuable role in how we process the world around us.

To help your child achieve goals and develop more long-term positive thinking, try using the WOOP strategy:

  • Wish– Help your child come up with a goal she would really like to accomplish.
  • Outcome– Engage your child in visualizing the best outcome that could result from accomplishing this goal. What would this outcome look like? What would it feel like?
  • Obstacle– Take wishing and visualizing a practical step further by generating a list of obstacles that could prevent your child from reaching the goal. These obstacles could include wanting to give up or getting distracted by something, like wanting to play with toys or check a cell phone.
  • Plan– Finally, make a plan for dealing with these obstacles if/when they occur. Have your child say or write sentences like If/when [Obstacle] , then I will [Plan to overcome the obstacle] .

One of the most powerful ways to teach your child to have a positive attitude is to MODEL this behavior for them. When you accept and process your emotions in a healthy way, you teach your child to do the same!