Even if your child is very bright, it doesn’t mean she won’t sometimes struggle throughout her years of schooling. Whether it’s the challenge of mastering new skills, the problems that arise in friendships, or a teacher with whom your child clashes, staying positive when the school day is difficult can take a Herculean effort.
While hardship is difficult for everyone, regardless of age, little ones are especially susceptible to being derailed by a bad attitude if they aren’t given the guidance, resources, and coping skills to maintain a positive outlook. It can even affect their capacity to learn. Here are six tips you and your child can employ to help her attitude stay positive even during seemingly insurmountable trials at school.
1. Be Positive Yourself
Anytime your child’s attitude is tending toward the negative — regardless of how justified that negative attitude is — it’s necessary to first train your eye upon yourself. Coping methods are learned at home, and when a parent adopts something of an Eeyore routine in the face of hardship, it’s likely your child will, too. So, buck up.
Regardless of whether your child is at a charter school for the arts or your local Waldorf Academy, he needs you to model a positive attitude when times are trying, or he will never be able to master it himself.
2. Encourage Self-Expression at Home
Without letting complaining take over the after-school hours, it’s important to give kids an outlet to express themselves when they come home. Encourage them to talk about their days, and allow them to speak without offering judgment or advice at the outset. As human beings, we can’t help how we feel, but we can help how we respond to and acknowledge our feelings.
Children raised in an environment that encourages self-expression will have less pent-up emotion to wade through, which makes maintaining a positive attitude a lot easier. From conversation to drawing, songwriting and poetry, guide your children toward healthy ways to express how they feel.
3. Find a Positive Role Model
Positive role models abound, and depending on your child’s interests and temperament, you should be able to find someone whose great attitude will inspire. From famous athletes to pioneers, look for stories about overcoming hardship in books, film, articles, websites, and music. Your child may even find an inspiring person in traditional history in his or her lessons at a Hebrew academy. Share these with your child, and spend time discussing what you learn. It’s easier for all of us to endure tough times when we have stories of overcoming reverberating in our minds and hearts.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness may seem like something for adults to tackle when they’re on a self-bettering kick, but it’s a useful practice almost anyone at any age can do and benefit from. Start slowly and simply with a short, guided meditation in the morning before breakfast that focuses on body sensations, feelings, and thoughts. When your child returns home each day from school, ask her to recount how her body felt, the feelings she had, and the thoughts that occurred to her when difficulty arose.
For a child who feels caught in a negative situation, being mindful of her own thoughts and feelings in any given moment can be transformative, because it can enable her to decide how she wants to respond. From becoming aware of negative self-talk to noticing triggers, a mindfulness practice can keep her ahead of the trials she’s facing.
5. Have Fun
Kids can wear out from trying to do the right thing all the time, which is why good, old-fashioned, and straightforward fun is always a good idea when one of your little ones is having a tough time. Whether you go to an indoor water park, hit the local arcade, or go horseback riding, take time out to have fun. While it won’t solve your child’s problems at school, it will certainly enable him to embody that positive attitude you’re after — at least while the fun is being had.
6. Look on the Bright Side
Not every cloud has an immediately obvious silver lining, and if the situation troubling your child doesn’t seem to have one, don’t invent it.
However, you can train her to look on the bright side in other hard situations. Fostering gratitude and aiming to keep a wide and measured perspective will enable a positive attitude to grow. Encourage this outlook in your children, and by all means, practice it yourself, too.
Sometimes, life is hard. Just because your child is struggling at school doesn’t mean you can’t help him stay upbeat about the rest of his life, family, hobbies, and friendships. Try out these six tips, and you’ll help your child stay positive even in the midst of a difficult storm.