"Nothing ever works for me!" cries my youngest child whenever something goes wrong.
The first time it happened, I didn't take much notice of it but when it occurred again and again, I became seriously concerned. Where did this negative attitude come from? And how do I reverse it?
I've always been a positive person because when things go wrong I always try again or find another way to do it. But my son just gives up in frustration. What is a mother to do?
Similarly, as a teacher, I've seen some children like this as well. They're always saying, "I can't do it, Miss" then they give up. What is a teacher to do?
Over at Muslimah Bloggers, the writing prompt for December is positivity. This article is written with that theme in mind for children. Here are nine ways to teach your child to be positive.
1. Be a model of positivity in your own life
You've all heard that children learn from seeing those around them. Being positive is one of them. If you're positive then your children will more likely copy this behaviour and way of thinking.
I've always been positive but I've noticed that my husband has a negative outlook. I'm not blaming him because this is a psychological frame of mind that we're born with. But we can work to change it.
Change your way of thinking and put on a can-do attitude so your child can copy it.
2. Use positive words to them
When your child says, "I can't do it" or "Nothing ever works for me" then counter it by saying "You can do it" and "Let's try again". The words you use on your child will be internalised by him. He will replay it in his mind over again and it will become his internal self talk. Choose wisely.
Cut back on the negative words and never put your child down. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, never berated children as reported by Anas ibn Malik: I served the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, for ten years. By Allah, he never even said to me “Uff!” and he never said harshly for anything, “Why did you do that?” or, “Why did you not do that?” (Bukhari and Muslim)
When you give instructions then use positive phrasing such as "Please walk" rather than negative ones such as "Don't run!"
3. Teach your child some positive self talk and affirmations
The conversation that your child has in his own head influences his behaviour. Just as your child internalises your words to him, teach him some positive self talk that he can use on himself. Teach him to say things like "I can do it when I put my mind to it" or "When I'm patient I can come up with a solution".
It's up to you what affirmation and self talk you want to teach him but look at where he needs help with and formulate one around that. If he gives up too easily then come up with one about not giving up. If he lacks confidence then make up one about having confidence.
4. Look for the good in others
When you assume that others have good intentions towards you then you're more likely to act positively towards others. You'll not end up bitter and dwelling on their meanness which can get you down and depress.
One way to teach your child to see good in others is by teaching him to make excuses for them. For example, if someone was mean to your child then ask your child of a good reason why he thinks the other child was mean - it could be because the child had a bad day, he was mistreated at home, he lost his pet, he failed a test and so on.
5. Make a gratitude chart for the things that Allah has blessed you with
Make a gratitude wall chart by simply using a star shaped sticky note and writing on each one a reason for being grateful to Allah such as having parents, a home, nice clothes, friends, being able to see and so on. When your child can see all the things that he has or is able to do then he'll feel blessed and be able to be positive about his life.
6. Look at others with less than you
Another way to teach gratitude is to teach your child to look at those who are not given as much as him. By doing this he will feel more grateful for the things that he does have and therefore will feel more positive about his life. Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him), said: "Look upon one who is below you in status. In this way you will not look down upon the grace of that God bestowed upon you." (Bukhari and Muslim)
7. Make a list of the things that your child is good at
Give your child a piece of paper and have him write all the things that he's good at. It can be the big things and the little things. Write everything down. He will see how much he can do well and it will raise his confidence and self esteem and increase his positive self image.
8. Encourage your child to take up a hobby that he's good at
Once your child knows what he's good at then get him to take up a hobby based on that. This will further build up his confidence and he will feel more positive about himself.
9. When something doesn't go according to plan, think of a positive reason why Allah doesn't want you to have it
You can plan but Allah is the best planner. There was a reason why things don't go according to how you planned it. There is a bigger picture that only Allah knows. Help your child understand this by showing him examples from your life and others. Help him to think of the lessons he can learn from it.