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Teaching Strategies About Being Positive

Janelle Cox

According to psychological research, our feelings are in response to our thoughts and beliefs. When we feel stressed out, we think and believe that we don’t have the skills to deal with the situation. In order to cope with this frustration, it is our perception that is the key.

When we think positively, we expect a good outcome, and we expect this favorable outcome because we persevere. Positive thoughts are conducive to the way we see things.

On the other hand, negative thoughts bring us down and we doubt our abilities and criticize ourselves. It’s not easy to see the positive things in life, especially for children. Teaching children at a young age to be positive can have a huge impact on the way they look at life. Being able to turn a negative thought into a positive one is an essential coping skill that children will be able to use the rest of their lives. One simple way to teach children positive thinking is by discussing the topic through fun activities. Here are a few teaching strategies that demonstrate positivity.

Teaching Strategies: The Attitude Inventory

This classroom activity is a great way for your students to learn about the different attitudes that people have, and how being positive is the one that they should always have. Start by telling students that they are going to be taking an attitude inventory. For younger students, you can explain that it’s much like taking an inventory at a store to find out what is there and what isn’t there. Give students a chalkboard (or a piece of paper) and have them answer the following questions one at a time. After each question, allow students to hold up their chalkboards and ask them to discuss their answers. Be sure to tell them that when they are answering not to make any judgments of their peers, and to choose answers that will not hurt anyone’s feelings.

  • Write down the name of a person that has a good, positive attitude all the time. After they write a name down ask them what makes them think that and discuss further.
  • Write down the name of a person who has a negative attitude. Be sure to instruct students not to choose a name that is in their classroom. Then, discuss why they think that person is always negative.
  • Do you have to have a bad attitude if you’re having a bad day, or do you think it’s possible to have a good attitude? Discuss their answers and why they think that.
  • Do you think that you can be a positive person one day, and a negative person another day? Discuss why they think that.
  • What are some things that you would like to change to help you be a more positive person? Ask students to name a few things and allow them to take turns answering the question.
  • What are a few things that you can do to help you keep a positive outlook on life? Have students name at least three things.

By having students take an attitude inventory you are allowing them to see and learn how they view themselves and their problems, as well as their peers. You will be able to see if students are blaming others for the way they look at things, or themselves. This activity is a great starting point for teaching positivity in your classroom.

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Turning the Negative into a Positive Activity

Now that students have a glimpse into how they view themselves (positive or negative) you can teach them how they can turn their negative thinking into a positive. Here’s how to start:

  • Have children fold their paper so they have four columns. Next, have them write the following four heading on the top of their paper.  Home, Family, Friends, School.
  • Ask students to think about any problems that they may be having in any of the areas that they listed and to write all of them down under each column.
  • Next, have students reframe what they wrote so it will be helpful for them to think of a positive way to turn their problems around. For example, if a student wrote “My sister keeps picking on me.” They would reframe it to “How can I get along better with my sister?”
  • After students have made their list, ask them how they think they can turn each of their problems around? Write the following questions on the front board and have students go through each problem that they listed and ask themselves each question on the board.

-How do I feel about this problem? 
-What will happen if I don’t solve this problem?
-How can I change my negative attitude into a positive attitude to solve this problem?
-What will happen once this problem is solved?

By offering students opportunities to practice positivity, you are helping them develop a positive attitude which can make a world of difference in their lives. Be reshaping their negative attitudes into positive ones, you are giving them the tools that will help contribute to their overall well-being.

How do you encourage your students to be a positive person? Do you incorporate positivity into your classroom community? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators