5 Proven Ways to Boost Positivity – R U OK? Day
5 September 2022
R U OK? This simple question can mean the world to another, whether big or small. Read on to see how this day can boost your little one’s positivity and emotional development.
Over the past decade, discussions around mental health and positive affirmation have increased dramatically, chipping away at age-old taboos in the process. In honour of R U OK? Day, we’ve compiled some easy ways to boost positivity that you can pass onto your little ones. We understand these methods won’t make problems magically disappear, but something as simple writing down your thoughts can have astonishing results.
1. Start a Gratitude Journal
Writing down what you’re grateful for each day is a surprisingly effective way to reduce negativity in your life and all you need is a pen and paper. Next, write down just three things you’re grateful for. At first, it can feel a little uncomfortable, but the trick is you must write down three things every day. This is a wonderful experience to share with your little one because it equips them with vital tools to establish constructive mental health habits.
In the beginning, it can be as simple as, ‘I’m grateful for my toothbrush,’ or ‘I’m grateful for my bed.’ However, the more you do it, the more you’ll see certain things keep appearing. Better yet, you and your child can use this time to build on each other’s reflections:
- ‘I’m grateful for my friends that play games with me.’
- ‘Every day I’m thankful for my daughter who I love very much.’
- ‘I’m so lucky to have my family who always support me.’
Training your brain is like any other skill – it takes practise. Over time, you’ll get better at recognising and cherishing the positive things rather than focusing on the negative. Lastly, you’ll have pages of positive reflections to look back on over the weeks, months and years to come.
2. Limit Screen Time
Overusing screens is a sure-fire way to overstimulate your brain – and that goes doubly for your children. On average, we’re exposed to more images than ever before. And this is affected even more by smartphones and social media apps that are flooded with images, videos, updates, and endless news.
Smartphones and computers are remarkable pieces of technology which have connected us in ways never believed possible, but they need to be monitored.
Ultimately, overstimulation makes our brains work overtime, especially right before bed when it’s time to unwind. Research suggests that limiting screens an hour before bed can significantly boost mood and sleep quality. So, the next time you read about limiting screen time for children – try it for yourself!
If you haven’t tried meditation before, you may have a preconceived image of robed figures softly humming in a circle at a forest retreat. However, this is a rather narrow view of meditation. Rather, meditation takes many forms and can be as simple as taking five minutes out of your morning to close your eyes and ground yourself in the present. Don’t think about tomorrow or next week or even an hour into the future – focus entirely on the moment you’re in and let your senses guide you.
Being out in nature has repeatedly proven an effective technique to enhance meditation. ADD (attention-deficit disorder) expert, Dr Zylowska, outlines that ‘nature is such an inducer of awareness in the present moment,’ making it ideal for calming fidgety children. Laying in the grass and looking at the sky is a fantastic way to soothe you and your child.
4. Increase Mindfulness
Have you ever found yourself in bed aimlessly scrolling your news feed? You don’t even really know why you’re doing it, but you’re filling your mind with all kinds of information you don’t actually need.
The best way to break this habit is to be aware of it and to consciously work to change it. This is something you can practise with your child to prevent them from developing similar habits as they develop into adolescence and become more exposed to technology. Some simple ways to practise mindfulness with your child include:
- The Five Senses Game – sit down and ask your child to describe each of their senses in order of: sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.
- Deep Breaths – sit down together and take a deep breath through the nose, hold for five seconds, then slowly breath out through the mouth. Repeat as many times as you like.
- Listening Walk – get out into nature and invite your child to identify the sounds and sights of nature. The key here is to limit your responses where possible, so your child focuses on their senses.
- Story Time – ask your child to close their eyes as you read (or make up) a story, preferably in the second person. Pay particular attention to sensory details – ‘you’re walking along a beach. You feel the sand tickling between your toes.’
5. Tell Them How You Really Feel
Expressing your deepest feelings is as powerful as it is daunting. Having a dedicated family talking time can do wonders in helping children articulate their thoughts and emotions. It’s beneficial to get into this habit at an early age to entrench positive thought patterns before adolescence.
In 2013, a psychological study analysed the relationship between happiness and gratitude. Firstly, researchers gathered a group of volunteers and asked them think of the person who influenced them the most. Secondly, they were instructed to write a letter detailing why they were grateful for that person. Lastly, they were invited to call that person and read what they wrote, resulting in the following:
- The group that only wrote down the letter showed an increase of happiness between 2% to 4%.
- The group that wrote the letter and made the phone call showed an increase of happiness between 4% to 19%.
- Notably, the volunteer that showed the biggest jump in happiness began the experiment as the least happy.
Above all, what’s most important is identifying and responding to how your child feels. These techniques all serve to better help your child express their emotions, so they can be unpacked and worked through in an open and honest way. You’ll make mistakes along the way, so be prepared to learn and grow together. Remember, there are no shortcuts in this shared journey. Children’s mindfulness expert, Susan Kaiser Greenland, sums it up best:
‘Learning mindfulness isn’t like piano lessons, where you can have someone else teach it to your children. You have to learn it yourself.’
Don’t forget to ask your child, teachers, educators, co-workers, family and friends if they’re okay this R U OK? Day!