Optimistic kids have the ability to adapt to, handle and overcome difficult situations. Although many kids that are able to think positive, or look on the bright side, may have some biological inclination towardpositive thinking, researchers have found that optimism also can be learned. Here are some ways to increase your child’s ability to think positive, especially when faced with bullying.
Watch for and correct negative thinking. For instance, if your child magnifies the negative aspects of a situation and filters out anything that is positive, then address this issue by helping your child find the silver lining even in the most difficult situations. Also, correct any self-blaming behaviors. Bullying is always a choice made by the bully. Your child is not to blame for the choices of another person nor is there something wrong with him.
Incorporate humor into your child’s life. Bullying is tough and going through it is not funny. But this does not mean that every minute of the day has to be painful. Be sure your child finds ways to smile or laugh, especially within a supportive group of friends. You also can schedule a favorite event or activity that always brings a smile.Help your child identify goals. In order for your child to learn how to think positive, he must be able to take the focus off the pain of the bullyingand address how he is going to move beyond the situation. For instance, help your child brainstorm on how to address the situation. Should he ignore the bully or respond in some way? The idea is that your child will stop thinking about how bad he feels and focus on what he can do to stand up to the bullying.
Teach your child to recognize negative thinking. Encourage him to periodically stop throughout the day and examine what he is thinking. The goal is that he would learn how to recognize when his thoughts are heading down a negative or destructive path. Teach him how to take that thought captive and think about something positive instead. It may help to give him some positive statements he can say like “I am a good person,” “I am smart and capable,” or “I can do this.”
Surround your child with positive friends. Be sure your child is spending time with friends who are positive in their outlook on life. Positive, supportive friends will be more likely to your child helpful advice and feedback. Meanwhile, friends who tend to be negative may increase your child’s stress level. It also can cause your child to doubt their ability tocope with the bullying.
Teach your child the value of positive self-talk. Begin by encouraging your child to be gentle and encouraging when thinking about his situation. And when a negative thought enters his mind, he should learn evaluate it rationally and respond with something positive instead. For kids that really struggle with positive self-talk, it may help for them to read encouraging quotes, post them in their room and record them in a journal. Repeating these affirmations will help your child develop a habit of positive and uplifting thinking.
Encourage him to view the world differently. When bullying occurs, it can be very easy for kids to assume the world is a bad place, filled with evil people. Find ways for your child to see that not everyone is mean or hurtful. If you help him to view the world in less judgmental ways, this will help him become more positive. And he may even become less critical about the world around him.
Be patient. If your child tends to have a negative outlook on life, even before the bullying began, do not expect him to become an optimist overnight. With practice, eventually his thinking will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance.
Keep in mind that even if your child learns how to think positive, doesn’t mean that he won’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when kids have been bullied. It’s how they deal with that emotional pain that matters. And when kids are optimistic, they will be able to defend themselves against bullying much more effectively than those who think negatively about it.