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7 Tips For Teaching Kids Positive Thinking

Having positive thoughts and thinking positively about themselves helps kids have a good sense of self worth and feel safe in the world. It will also help them lead fulfilling lives and have a brighter future. Thoughts are powerful, and the younger kids learn to have a positive mindset, the better chance they have to have a happy and fulfilling life now and in the future. 

Here are 7 tips for teaching kids positive thinking. 

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1) Teach Them About Thoughts and How Their Brain Works

When kids understand how the brain works and about their thoughts, it makes a world of difference. This is the first step to teaching your kids positive thinking. Once kids understand how important it is to think positively and speak positively, they will be more likely to use empowerment tools by working on increasing the amount of positive thoughts they have and decreasing the negative ones.

You can teach your kids simple empowerment tools to help them increase the positive thoughts they have. Our Thoughts Are Like Seeds Program Manual is a great place to start. 

2) Be An Example

The very best way to teach kids is by example. They might not always be listening, but they are always watching you. Kids are likely to mimic your behavior whether you intentionally taught it to them or not. If you say negative things about yourself, your kids are going to say negative things about themselves. If you gossip, your kids will be more likely to gossip. 

You go first. Work on thinking positively yourself. Use the empowerment tools you are teaching your kids. Take care of yourself the way you want your kids to take care of themselves. Your example will teach your kids more than anything else you do. 

3) Be Encouraging and Positive

As a parent, you have a lot of power over how your child sees themselves and the world. The things you say to them make a difference. It is much easier to see the negative things they do and correct them than it is to notice the positive. Try being encouraging and pointing out the positive things they do that you want them to continue doing. Notice when they are doing something good. Positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement. 

Some examples:

  • I notice you are walking down the halls. Thanks for following the rules.
  • You are focusing on that homework so well.
  • I appreciate that you used your words.

4) Help Them Understand Their Emotions and How to Manage Them

There is such a wide range of the emotions you can feel, and sometimes that is confusing and overwhelming to kids. It is important that they understand that emotions aren't 'good' and 'bad'. It isn't bad to feel sad, angry, or frustrated. It is normal and healthy. There are emotions that feel positive and emotions that feel negative. We don't necessarily want to feel the negative emotions, but it is important to understand that it is okay to feel them, and to have some strategies for managing them in an appropriate way.

5) Give Them Freedom

We all want freedom. The freedom to choose is very important to our sense of safety in this world. Giving children the ability to choose as many things in their lives as possible will help them build a sense of self and worth. Try letting them choose even when it makes you cringe a little bit. Of course, there are times it is best to guide them away from choices that will hurt them.

Some things you can give your kids choices about:

  • Their clothing
  • What they eat
  • How they do their hair
  • Extracurricular activities
  • How they use their free time
  • Pursuing their interests and passions, even if they are different than what you want for them.

6) Encourage Them to Talk About the Good and the Bad Things That Happen Each Day

Sometimes kids will have one negative experience during their day, and only remember that. It is easy to let the negative overshadow the positive. Helping kids recognize the negative AND positive things that happen to them is very healthy. It is important that kids can see that even though they had something they see as 'bad' happen to them, some good things happened too.

A game we enjoy in our family is what we call "Peaches and Pits". At dinner time, we go around the table and everyone takes turns telling one "pit", or negative event followed by 2 "peaches", or positive events. It is important to highlight more positive events than negative. This helps our brains see the positive more easily.

7) Expose Them to Good Literature and Media

Have you ever heard the saying, "you are what you eat"? The same is true for the literature, media, and other things you expose yourself to. You are what you consume. Kids are especially vulnerable to the influences of the media around them. They are bombarded everyday by messages from TV shows, video games, the internet, and literature. It is very important that the things they are exposed to are good. Here are some guidelines we use in our house to decide if the media we consume is 'good'. 

  • It has positive messages about family and education.
  • Morals and values are taught.
  • There is no unnecessary violence.
  • It does not have swearing or other negative language.

Yes, this does eliminate a lot of things we could possibly consume, but it is worth it when we have positive and uplifting messages in our brains instead of unnecessary and damaging garbage.

What are some of the ways you help your kids think positively? Share in the comments below!

Neuroplasticity

Neuro.....what?!

Neuroplasticity is a huge word! It might be a little intimidating to say,  and you may wonder if you really want to teach your kids about it. I promise you do! It will make a big difference if your kids can understand this superpower our brains have.

The other day my 3 year old did not want to go to karate. He usually LOVES karate, so this was confusing! When I asked him why he didn't want to go, he said, "Because I don't know how to do karate." These feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy start young! In times like this, it's important to understand neuroplasticity and how our brains can change with repetition.

The Brain's Ability To Make New Connections

Neuroplasticity is your brain's ability to make new connections. Your brain is built with billions of neurons. Neurons are cells that transmit information to other neurons, muscle, and glands. As you perform certain things over and over again, you build neuropathways in your brain. The more you do the same thing, the easier it will become. Practice makes perfect (or at least progress)! When you do or think a new thing, your actions and thoughts activate neurons. Then, these neurons build a new pathway so it is easier for your brain to do and think the same things again. At first the pathway is small. The more you practice the new thing or think the new thought, the bigger and faster your path gets. The more you repeat the action or thought, the easier it is to perform it. 

Have you ever driven home from somewhere, and when you got home wondered how you got there? Do you have to think too hard about how to brush your teeth, get dressed, or ride a bike? You have done some of these things thousands of times. As a result, your brain knows exactly what to do, and you can do it on autopilot. These are examples of how neuroplasticity works. 

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Everybody's Brain is Plastic!

Neuroplasticity at any age

Have you ever heard the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"? It's not true! Scientists used to think that only children have neuroplastic brains. Children's brains are  more neuroplastic than adult brains, but scientists are finding that everyone's brains are neuroplastic at every age.

This is really good news. It means that if you want to learn a new skill, you can. Have you ever had the thought that because you don't have experience in something you can't learn it? Have you ever thought it was too late for you because you didn't learn something when you were a kid? TI know I have! he only thing stopping you is yourself. Because of neuroplasticity, your brain is perfectly capable of learning a new skill, and even excelling at something new. 

How Knowing About Neuroplasticity Can Help You Train Your Brain

Neurons making connections

How is knowing about neuroplasticity helpful for empowering yourself and your children? It's the same as with any skill. The more you practice thinking positive thoughts, the more you will have them.

As you and your children use the empowerment tools taught in the Our Thoughts Are Like Seeds Program you will start to build new neuropathways in your brains. The key to taking advantage of neuroplasticity is consistency. If you are consistent about doing these simple activities, thinking positive thoughts will become automatic with time. It really is amazing what taking just a few minutes each day can do for both you and your kids. 

Neuroplasticity is Like Building A Road

Neuroplasticity is lesson 2 in the Our Thoughts are Like Seeds Program . We learn that it is like building roads. When you first try something new, the pathway is bumpy, but if you practice enough you can build a super highway that is fast and smooth. The Neuroplasticity lesson is filled with fun activities, analogies, and stories that make learning and applying the information easy and fun. 

These lessons can be given in just 5-10 minutes a day with little preparation. All you need to do is make sure you have the supplies needed. Usually the lessons provide everything you need, but every once in awhile you will need a simple household item. The rest is done for you!

What Are Empowerment Tools?

What are Empowerment Tools? What does empowerment mean when it comes to empowering our kids (and ourselves)? At Our Kids Empowered, our definition of empowerment is to give kids the confidence, courage, and power to meet their full potential. We want kids to feel comfortable in their own skin, to know and see their own worth, and to understand the power they have to make decisions. To do this, it is important that kids' bodies and minds are in sync with each other.  They need to be equipped with the tools they can use to help them manage emotions, calm down, and get their minds in order so they can feel good and make good decisions. 

Empowerment tools are any tools you can use to be empowered as defined above. The empowerment tools that we focus on at Our Kids Empowered fall into 2 categories: physical and mental. Empowerment tools for both of these categories go hand in hand. If you are doing something to strengthen one, the other will benefit in some way. You can't separate your body and mind, and you can't firmly separate techniques into these 2 categories. Here we will loosely separate them for better understanding.

Physical Empowerment Tools

Physical empowerment tools are anything you do to empower yourself using your body. Some examples of physical empowerment tools are:

  • Breathing exercises
    • Deep breathing is a simple and quick empowerment technique.
    • Deep breathing improves your cognitive function, improves your mood, and increases relaxation and/or helps you to relax and calm down. 
    • Our free resource library has a free printable on an awesome breathing technique called Four Square Breathing. Check it out!
  • Exercise
    • This includes any kind of exercise. As long as you are exercising wisely, exercise is an empowerment tool. Exercise improves your overall health, has cardiovascular benefits, can improve your mood, and can help your brain and memory. 
    • Yoga would be included in both breathing and exercise.
  • Sensory activities like swinging, jumping, pushing, compression, and tactile play
    • Using the senses in play is very powerful, and helpful for anyone.
    • Sensory play helps brain function, emotional regulation, problem solving skills, and much more. We will go into greater detail about sensory activities and senses in future blog posts. 
  • Kinesthetics
    • Kinesthetics is moving your body in different ways to stimulate different parts of your mind.
    • It is a way to connect your brain and your body to help you function better.
    • Kinesthetics has been shown to help manage stress, improve decision making, improve organization, improve focus and concentration, improve reading, writing and memory, and help you feel better overall. 

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Mental Empowerment Tools

Mental empowerment tools include anything you do to think positively, and anything that helps your brain work better. You will notice that all of the physical empowerment techniques listed above have mental benefits as well. All of the tools listed below include a physical element as well. 

  • Pull The Weeds
    • Pull The Weeds is an empowerment tool taught in the Our Thoughts are Like Seeds Program. It is an activity that involves being aware of your thoughts and switching the negative ones to positive thoughts. 
  • Journaling and writing
    • Writing has so many benefits.
    • Journaling can be used as a way to release negative emotions.
    • Writing with your hand (as opposed to typing) stimulates neurons in your brain.
    • New awareness of yourself and your thoughts can be achieved when you put pen to paper.
    • Writing can improve memory and overall brain function. 
  • Affirmations
    • Affirmations are positive things we say to ourselves. If you have an affirmation, it is very beneficial to say it over and over.
    •  When your subconscious brain hears your say these positive things, it eventually starts to believe them.
    • Affirmations can be powerful and life changing. 
    • Check out this post for 25 positive affirmations for kids.

Summary

Empowerment tools are simple things you can do to strengthen your mind and body, and in the end help you reach your full potential. As you use empowerment tools and teach them to your kids, you will find that they help you start to think more positively, regulate your emotions better, be more relaxed, be physically healthy, and the list goes on and on. 

Check out our free resource library to download a free printable on Four Square Breathing. Four Square Breathing is a simple and effective physical empowerment tool that has mental benefits as well.