Why kids need a positive mindset
RACHEL DOHERTY
Social worker, teacher and the founder of Tweens2teen
One of the most important gifts we can give our children and teenagers is a positive mindset. One built on optimism and hope.

Whether we like it or not, our outlook on life has a big impact on whether we experience success or failure. And joy or misery.

Our mindset is more valuable that money or love or security. All those things can disappear in the blink of an eye, but our mindset can help us brush the dust off and try again.

“Positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.”

SHIV KHERA

What a positive mindset looks like

This idea of a positive mindset has a bit of a buzz about it at the moment. Everyone’s wanting to help kids develop one. But the theory behind it isn’t all that new. It’s the old “glass half-full” outlook on life that our parents and grandparents hammered into us.

Optimism isn’t a quality that most people are born with, so it’s something that kids have to work on.

And a positive mindset is more than plain old optimism. It’s an approach to life that sees challenges and mistakes as learning opportunities.

Carol Dweck talks about kids either having a growth mindset or a fixed one. But being human, it’s unlikely that we permanently camp in one of those two extremes. Most of us would be somewhere on a spectrum between the two. Swayed by our emotions and what’s going on in our lives at any one moment.

A positive mindset can set goals and keep working towards them, no matter what challenges crop up. It’s also able to adjust those goals, based on feedback from others, the environment and self-reflection.

A positive mindset has a strong foundation of self-belief and independence.

Why it’s important for kids to have a positive approach to life

For teenagers and children, their lives are at the mercy of massive technological and social changes. Generation Z is going to have to adapt to the automation of work and life in ways we can only start to imagine. Jobs that are essential today, could be all but gone in a decade.

A positive mindset will help our kids cope in that fast-paced economy. It will give them the confidence and resources to grasp opportunities. And it’s not something they can wait to develop. Much like climate change, it should be part of what they’re learning today.

How to help kids develop a positive mindset

It’s not difficult to help kids develop the right mindset for a great adult life. But we do need to be intentional about it. All kids will go through tough times, and the hormones of adolescence will make the path rocky, so focus on the long-term goal.

Here’s five ways you can help a young person have a positive approach to life:

  1. Point positivity out in others. Kids are great imitators. And in the age of influencers, there are plenty of people for them to observe. Talk about how people adapt to change, learn from their mistakes and focus on their goals.
  1. Deal with your own negative thoughts. We all have that little voice in our head that tells us we’re not all that good. Or smart. Or liked. It’s rubbish! We all have the capacity to contribute great things to this world. If negative thoughts pull you down too often, then get some counselling so you can be a great role model to your kids.
  1. Learn things together. A positive mindset is one that is open to learning, right throughout life. Your kids will pick up great lessons if they get to develop new skills and try new things with you beside them.

“I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and you put the time in.” – Roger Clemens

  1. Teach them to reflect. The ability to look back and evaluate how things have gone is an important part of a healthy mindset. Spotting mistakes, identifying weaknesses to work on, looking for opportunities. These all come from being able to assess how they’ve gone with a critical eye, not a biased one.
  1. Embrace gratitude. There are so many things in life that we can’t control. And if we get caught up in worrying about them, we’ll just get stuck. Kids need to learn to be thankful for the good parts of life. To look for the good in the bad and to hang on to hope. Gratitude helps us to stay humble and teachable too.

A positive mindset is the best gift we can give to our children and teenagers as they head out into the adult world. It’s the one thing that can get them through anything, no matter how tough life gets.

Would you say your kids have a positive mindset? What do you think helped them get there? Or what holds them back?

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