Focus on the Positive
August 8, 2011 ~
After a summer spent outside on exciting vacations or at summer camp, your child may be feeling a little pessimistic about losing summer freedoms in the new school year. While it is natural to feel anxiety about upcoming change, you can help your child cultivate a positive outlook as the first day of school approaches.
If your child starts to express negative thoughts, stop and listen. Repeat back what you have heard and dig a little deeper by asking questions. It is important not to trivialize what your child is thinking or feeling; by helping him or her understand his or her feelings, you can help him or her overcome any negativity. Your active listening and engaged questions will help your child to feel safe, loved and more receptive to your suggestions.
When the grass isn’t greener in your child’s mind, remind him or her of a time that something felt scary but turned out well in the end. Help your child remember past successes and remind him or her of the fun and familiar parts of school, such as seeing old friends and favorite teachers. Sadness and fear are transitory feelings that can be overcome with a trip down confidence lane.
The best thing you can do for your child is model an optimistic outlook. When faced with a stressful or unknown situation, put on your rose-colored glasses. Use humor to deal with difficult situations, talk about failure as a learning opportunity and allow your child the freedom to make mistakes. After all, you will be there to help cultivate a positive attitude when life’s challenges come along!
Biology plays a role in determining a person’s natural outlook, but parenting has the power to create a deeper positive perspective that will reduce stress and boost confidence throughout your child’s life. By being responsive to your child’s thoughts and feelings, reminding him or her of past successes and demonstrating positive coping strategies with optimistic thinking, you can prepare your child for a new school year.