PM Pediatric Care Logo
father and son walking down a road together

Positive Mindset Development in Children

As parents, we want to shield our children from all the hurt they may encounter. Unfortunately, life is full of obstacles, and things may not always go their way. In times of struggle, it’s important to have a positive mindset. So, how can we foster this trait in our kids as they grow up? Let’s discuss the importance of practicing positive thoughts throughout childhood and the ways that parents can help children develop an optimistic outlook.

Importance of A Positive Mindset

Having a positive mindset is more than just seeing life as a glass half full. It is the ability to see the good in people, relationships, and situations while looking at things through a realistic lens. This includes concepts like “finding the silver lining” and “making the best of a bad situation.” By this definition, it is important to acknowledge both good and bad – to be realistic – and have the strength to persevere through a difficult situation in a healthy manner.

Life can throw a lot of curveballs our way, even when we think we’ve got things all planned out. Having a positive mindset allows us the flexibility to not get stuck in rigid, often illogical thinking. It also allows us to pivot and think outside of the box to solve life’s challenges.

Fostering Positivity Through Praise

Good breeds more good. In other words, the more positive you are towards your child, the more positive they are inclined to be. So, praise, praise, praise whenever you have an opportunity. Children thrive when their hard work and their sound decision-making are acknowledged by loved ones. This grows the child’s confidence, leading to higher self-esteem levels and a more positive mindset.

Even when our kiddos are misbehaving, there are ways to help them feel praise and positivity. If you are looking to improve one or two specific behaviors that you can track at home, a behavioral incentive chart can be useful. This allows the child a visual representation of their progress towards the goal, and adds motivation for them to achieve the goal (stickers, small toys, etc.)

When offering criticisms or corrections, try to find a way to balance out the negatives with some positives. For example, if you are telling a child how they could have spoken nicer to their sibling during a conflict, you might say: “I feel that you could have been nicer and used different words with your brother/sister; but, I think you did a great job trying to work it out on your own; that was brave!”

Positivity By Example

Whether we realize it or not, we are always modeling behavior for our children. Even before they are fully verbal, their brains can soak in our habits and patterns. So, it is important to display a positive mindset for them. This does not mean that you must be the eternal optimist – on cloud nine all day, every day.

However, it pays to talk through your honest feelings with your children and demonstrate your commitment to finding positive aspects of troubling situations. For example, if you are having a difficult week at work, you might say: “I am feeling overwhelmed with projects at my job, and I’m stressed out. However, I am so grateful to come home to you and our family.”

Children typically gravitate towards positive options and outcomes (i.e. praise, incentives, engaging in a preferred activity). So, if you can make those available to kids, they can still benefit from a positive mindset, even if you are not Mr. or Mrs. Positivity.

It Takes a Village to Build a Mindset

Remember that you are not alone in your effort to foster a positive mindset in your kids. Identify, create, and facilitate a support system for your child. Each person within their circle can be a touchpoint for positivity; whether it’s their teacher, counselor, or principal at school, other relatives or close friends at home, or coaches, religious leaders, and other members of the community. Don’t be afraid to explore counseling either. There are different modalities that might be a good fit for your family’s situation, be it individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, or parent coaching.

If you or a family member needs behavioral and/or mental health treatment, but aren’t sure where to start, read more here or call 888-764-4161. We’re here to support!

About the Expert

Michael Drozdick is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with PM Pediatric Care. He has experience working with children and young adults with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, attention/ hyperactivity issues, anxiety, and depression. His approach centers around the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) model and incorporates elements of mindfulness, positive psychology, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Michael has two master’s degrees in Educational Psychology and Mental Health Counseling.