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Teaching Children to be Positive in a Negative World

Does your child view the world like a cup that is half empty? Recently my child returned from school and shared with us the worries of her friends about problems with school safety. Online news networks give us daily reports about serious crimes, unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction, wars and many other problems with today’s world. It can be a major challenge to raise positive kids who are bombarded daily by negative messages.

My family enjoys baking chocolate chip cookies. Success with baking cookies involves the right kind of ingredients and using appropriate baking procedures. Delicious tasting cookies is the result of following the recipe.

According to Zig Ziglar, author of Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World, “To raise positive kids we’ve got to use many essential ingredients — love, discipline, forgiveness and many other qualities all wrapped in an abundance of care and commitment for our children’s eventual well-being.” Here’s the recipe for helping your children to become proactive thinkers.

Be your child’s friend
Many parents don’t take time out of their busy schedules to get to know their children. Your child needs to know that you do more than apply discipline. Make a list of activities that you can do with your child. Your list might include playing some games, taking a walk, a trip to a local museum or a stop at the library to check out some books.

According to Victor Cline, author of How to Make Your Child a Winner, parents should treat their child like a friend. “By treating him this way, you are telling him that he’s the kind of good, interesting person that you would choose for a friend,” Cline said. Happy children have parents who take the time to share common interests and activities.

Encourage a stick-to-it attitude
Julius Segal, author of Growing Up Smart and Happy, urges parents to, “Help your child experience the joy of attainment. Reaching, even straining, for a worthwhile goal is welcomed by those whose efforts have enabled them at times to hit the mark.”

My children enjoy family goal setting. For example, each semester our children set a goal to be on the school honor roll. By setting a realistic goal, they are motivated to make daily effort to achieve it. Make sure you have your child write down the goal and review it weekly. Catch your child doing something good. Give her genuine compliments and encouragement. And don’t forget to reward children with a plate of chocolate chip cookies for achieving their goals.

Don’t reward complaining
The world is full of people who whine and complain about almost anything. Jacob Azerrad, author of Anyone can have a Happy Child observed, “The child who is taught to complain by parents who are concerned about his well-being, who are caring and thoughtful and all too willing to say yes instead of no, is likely to become the adult who scans the world negatively, who is a pessimist, and who is ‘depressed’ because of the limited satisfaction he finds in life.”
Be a proactive role model for your child. Encourage the development of positive values — honesty, courtesy, practicing kindness, smiling and having a healthy sense of humor. Teach your children to see that the life’s cup is half full, not half empty.

If your children are suffering from the glass is half empty syndrome, develop a stronger relationship with your children, help your children experience the joy of succeeding with goals, and replace complaints with positive statements. Today’s children receive too many negative messages. Build your child’s positive self image with upbeat experiences and commendation.

Reed Markham teaches Communication Skills at South University, in Tampa. He has also written for National Hispanic Family Magazine.

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