Even kids who look at life through rose-colored glasses express negative thoughts sometimes– “I’m the worst drawer in my class” or “Nobody wants to play with me.” Sure, it’s healthy for kids to vent their feelings to their parents but when it seems like every sentence is more “glass half empty” than “glass half full,” it is time to redirect their thinking. Here are five ways to shift your family’s mindset.

Table of Contents

1. Encourage an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s easy for kids to get caught up in the comparison game. Parents may hear comments like “Mason has his own phone and I don’t” and “Ava’s hair is prettier than mine.” It is likely they hear this kind of talk from us about other adults. We can lead by example with language around gratitude. “I am so grateful for this beautiful day, so we can all play outside together” and “Aren’t you glad you have all these Legos, so you can build such amazing things?” Kids can even keep a journal like The One Minute Gratitude Journal.

2. Fill Their Buckets

In the best-selling book How Full is Your Bucket? (For Kids), Felix is a kid who learns from his grandfather that he has an invisible bucket over his head. When someone hurts him, a drop of water spills out. When something good happens to him, a drop of water goes in. But the best lesson is when Felix realizes that when he is kind, forgiving or helpful to someone else, he receives a drop in his bucket. We can fill our children’s buckets with kind words and hugs; we can also teach them how to fill their own buckets by serving others.

3. Compliment Their Character

We might not even realize how often we say to our kids, “You are so cute” and “You look so good in that outfit.” While those compliments are fine, we should find ways to compliment who they are and what they do, rather than how they look. The blog imom offers ideas of how to do that with phrases like, “I appreciate the way you treat people” and “Your willingness to help makes me happy.”


4. Make Dinner Positive

Ronald Reagan famously said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” If we want to change our kids’ negative thoughts into positive ones, what better place to start? Since dinner conversation often turns to family members recapping their days, have kids say one great thing that happened and one not-so-great. Then, try to turn the not-so-great moment into a positive one. For instance, “I’m sorry you didn’t get that part in the school play. If you do a really great job with this smaller part, the director may consider you for something bigger next time.”

5. Put Positivity in their Face

Sometimes kids–and adults–need a visual reminder to think positively. Try hanging a sign or poster in a high-traffic area, like the door to the garage or in the bathroom. You can purchase a sign that has a great, positive thinking message like, “A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty.” You could also hang a really simple sign like “Thankful” or “Shine On.” Armed with such positive messages, your kids won’t even need those rose-colored glasses.

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