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Benefits of Teaching Positivity to Children

connection between a person's level of resilience, and their ability to generate many positive emotions in their lives.

Using this information, parents might think about how they teach and model the behaviours and experiences that generate positive emotions in their children. By pointing out times in the day when your children feel something positive, you’re raising their awareness of the contexts in which they feel good; the aim is to teach them how to notice those many moments of positivity in their day.

For a younger child:
"You made that tower of blocks stay up even though it was very tall. You must be feeling proud of yourself." or "You spent a long time looking at that book on horses, I guess you were feeling very interested in that book."

For an older child:
"You did so well in that exam after all that study. You must feel really hopeful of doing well in this subject now." or "I saw how much you loved that view from the top of the mountain. It's really awesome to look down at this amazing countryside isn't it?"

To help you generate more ideas about raising your child's positivity and awareness, Dr. Fredrickson offers this list of the 10 main forms of positive emotions: love, joy, gratitude, serenity or contentment, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration and awe. Increasing your child’s daily diet of, and awareness of, positive emotions cultivates your child's resilience.

Investing in Your Child’s Future Wellbeing

In Dr. Fredrickson’s book Positivity, she shares research indicating that there is an emotional ‘tipping point’: “What seems to matter most is the ratio of your positive emotions to your negative emotions – your positivity ratio ... People who are languishing in life can move to flourishing in life if their positivity ratios pass a certain threshhold.” The ‘tipping point’ ratio is three to one – we need three positive emotions to lift us up for every negative emotion that drags us down; Dr. Fredrickson says that many people live at a two to one ratio or lower.

When parents are asked what they want most for their children in life, almost every one of them will include the word “happy” in their answer – part of the recipe for happiness may lie in our children’s ability to create a mindset of positivity. Dr. Fredrickson says this positivity mindset is one of being open, being appreciative, being curious, being kind, and most of all, ‘being you’. “To be open means to let go of those rigid expectations, expand our awareness but taking things in with all of our senses – natural beauty, human kindness…" and not being “blind to this when fixated on a particular goal, or … jumping to conclusions or ruminating.”

Parents can make an important investment in their children’s happiness by understanding more about the science of positive emotions, and applying to themselves too.
             

              We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own.
              Author, Ben Sweetland

** Dr Fredrickon's book Positivity is available on this website.