Chapter 28: The Power of Positive Thinking
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Look on the bright side
Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” has been translated into 15 languages and has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Why? Because it works. Positive thoughts allow us to think more clearly. They help us stay focused. They allow us to be open to the possibility of success rather than being resigned to inevitable failure.
And it’s no different for kids. If your child can think about a challenge – such as learning to read – in positive terms, he will be more willing to tackle that challenge and conquer it.
Put it into action
Here are five tips for helping your child keep a positive outlook when it comes to reading:
- Watch your words – Think carefully about the words you choose when you’re talking to your child about reading – whether it’s reading for school or reading at home. Don’t make it sound like a chore; make it sound like an adventure! Say thing such as, “Wow, that book looks interesting,” or “I’ll bet you can’t wait to find out what happens next.” Kids watch the adults around them all the time looking for clues about how they should feel about the events in their lives. Tell them that reading is fun and well worth the challenge, and they will believe it.
- Be encouraging but realistic – Saying, “You did great!” or “Wasn’t that easy?” when it simply isn’t true will usually backfire. Kids know when they’ve done well and when they’ve been struggling. But you can still be encouraging even when your child is having a difficult time with reading. You can say things such as, “I can see that was hard for you, but I’m proud that you kept trying” or “This might be tough, but you’ve made progress before, and you’ll make progress again.”
- Model positive self-talk – Kids don’t automatically know how to give themselves a pep talk. Come right out and tell your child that positive thinking can help, and then give him some words to use when he feels discouraged. “I’ll never be able to do this,” for example, can become, “This is hard, but I will keep trying. I’ve done hard things before.”
- Set a good example – As adults, we often beat ourselves up when we’ve made a mistake. When we’ve had a setback, we say things such as “How stupid could I be?” or “How could I let that happen?” Remember, however, that your kids are watching you. Your example teaches them how to treat themselves. The next time you make a mistake, say something positive about it when you know your child is listening. Try saying something like, “I don’t like making mistakes, but I’ll do better next time.”
- Talk back – If you hear your child saying that reading is hard or that he always fails, be prepared with some positive comebacks. If your child says, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard,” remind him of a time when he tried something hard and succeeded at it. If he says, “I’m just dumb,” point out that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. He may be struggling with reading at the moment but doing well at math. Remind him of that.